Located just south of the equator, this is the beginning of Peru's autumn season with different weather patterns depending on where you are traveling. There are three distinct climate zones:
The desert coastal strip: April offers mostly dry, sunny skies and spring-like temperatures with little rain. This region includes Mancora, Trujillo, Lima, Paracas, and Arequipa. Lima averages highs of 75° F (24° C) and lows of 64° F (18° C), while south of Lima, you'll experience slightly cooler temperatures than the north (closer to the equator).
The Andean zone or highlands: It's time to dry off. This region, which includes Huaraz, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca, starts to see less rain in April and cooling temperatures that range depending on your altitude. If visiting the Cusco region, you’ll experience slightly cooler temperatures with highs around 66° F (19° C) and lows around 41° F (5° C) with occasional moisture. However, any remaining clouds and moisture from the rainy season during April should not deter you from visiting—the flora and fauna will still be beautiful.
- The large eastern area covered by the Amazon rainforest: Expect warm, humid temperatures and wet weather, though temperatures tend to cool off at night. This region includes Iquitos, Tarapoto, Manu, and Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon jungle near Iquitos tends to see highs around 88° F (31° C) and lows around 72° F (22° C). The tropical rains usually occur in the afternoon in the form of a downpour or thunderstorm, though rain will likely be more frequent in April with a monthly average of 12 inches.
Crowds & Costs
In April, more visitors begin to arrive in Peru, particularly as Easter approaches. If Holy Week occurs in April (it does for the next few years), expect a surge in crowds and high season prices. Hotel rates will spike and availability will be low so it's best to make reservations far in advance.
With the exception of Holy Week, travel to the Sacred Valley during this time does offer the advantage of fewer crowds, less muddy conditions, bright green scenery, and decent rates for flights and hotels. In general, the mountains and canyons are still on the quieter side this time of year, so April is a good month if you're trying to avoid the high season.
As tourism starts to slow down along Peru's coastline and shifts to inland, April is a great time to visit the beach towns as the weather is still good, there are fewer people, and prices are lower.
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Where to Go
Peru's northern coast stays sunny and warm year-round (it's closer to the equator), and there are cool surf towns to check out like Máncora. As for beaches around Lima, April starts to get too cold for swimming in the Pacific Ocean, but this is still a good time of year to sunbathe and visit the scenery. Further south is the Paracas National Reserve with sand dunes and cliffs and diverse fauna that's great for exploring. This is also a popular time of year for those wishing to combine Peru with a visit to the Galapagos Islands.
In Peru's interior, Machu Picchu is the most popular and important of all Incan ruins. The Inca Trail is the only way to hike directly into the park through the Sun Gate and the trail may get crowded during Holy Week. A great alternative trail is the Salkantay Trek—a lesser-known 5-day trek to Machu Picchu where you'll hike past coffee farms, glacial lakes, and rugged snowcapped peaks before lowering into the dense cloud forest for your approach to the Incan ruins.
In Southern Peru, straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia is one of South America's largest lakes: Lake Titicaca. Said to be the birthplace of the Incas, this area is also home to numerous ruins, while the Titicaca National Reserve, shelters rare aquatic species such as giant frogs. The climate is agreeable this time of year with little rain, though, due to the high altitude, nights can get chilly.
What to Do
Trekking & day hikes: Peru has long attracted lovers of the great outdoors and getting out on the trail is the most popular activity. In addition to multi-day treks, there are shorter hikes. Here's a list of the Best Day Hikes in the Sacred Valley near Cusco including visits to waterfalls, caves, and hot springs.
Watersports & surfing: The sport of surfing is growing in Peru, and many beach towns north of Lima like Cabo Blanco (home of the "Peruvian pipe"), Chicama, and Mancora offer great surf conditions. Kiteboarding, diving, stand-up paddleboarding, and whale- and dolphin-watching are popular as well. Keep in mind that ocean temperatures begin to get colder this time of year so you might need a wetsuit.
History & Inca ruins: Within the Sacred Valley, you’ll find a host of ruins like Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, and Pisac near the colonial city of Cusco. While these smaller sites are more spread out than Machu Picchu, you’ll have your fill of Spanish colonial villages, handicraft markets, and Incan history if you manage to visit them all.
City culture in Lima: Despite the fact that it hardly ever rains here, this layover city often gets overlooked for Cusco. But Peru's capital is rich in history and culture with beautiful architecture, cathedrals, interesting museums, a growing culinary scene (including #6 and #7 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list), nightlife, and great shopping. Make sure to spend an evening watching the sunset overlooking the bluffs at Miraflores.
Wildlife viewing on the Ballestas Islands: Accessible from the beach town of Paracas (near Pisco) by tour boat, these islands, nicknamed ‘the Galapagos Islands of Peru', are home to rare birds like pelicans, penguins, Peruvian boobies, and Inca terns. It’s also common to spot sea lions, turtles, dolphins, and whales in the park. Due to its ideal location on the Pacific coast, day trips can be made while you explore the sand dunes of Huacachina.
Sample local cuisine: The guinea pig dish called cuy is Peru’s most authentic edible experience, often found in highland towns like Cusco and the Urubamba Valley. Also look for fresh ceviche, stir-fried beef, and creamy chicken. Potatoes have been cultivated in the Andes for 10,000 years and there are a dizzying number of types on offer (great with spicy cheese sauce). Also, make sure to try the picarones (Peruvian donuts).
Peru is known for its many festivals, with literally thousands of them held all over the country every year. A few notable events in April include:
Semana Santa: Since 85-90% of Peruvian's are Catholic, the week leading up to Easter (either March or April) is an especially holy week, where festivities and processions are carried out along the streets (especially in Ayacucho).
Festividad del Señor del los Temblores del Cusco: El Señor de los Temblores, or the Lord of the Earthquakes, is the patron saint of Cusco and the focus of this major Holy Week celebration (either March or April). Dating back to an earthquake that took place in 1650, when the town was saved from ruin, a statue of Jesus is removed from Cusco's cathedral and paraded throughout the city.
National Competition Paso Horse: This weeklong festival in mid-April takes place in the district of Pachacamac and includes a display of favorite horses, prizes, and skill demonstrations. Horsemen parade their horses with Peruvian coastal dances like the Marinera, with the use of handkerchiefs as props.