July is winter in Peru and the country's dry season, though weather patterns depend on where you are traveling. There are three distinct climate zones:
- The desert strip zone: This region includes Mancora, Trujillo, Lima, Paracas, and Arequipa. All along Peru's coastline, the weather is typically mild and dry with some fog, especially near the capital where there might be a thick mist that lingers over the city. Lima averages highs of 66° F (19° C) and lows of 59° F (15° C). North of Lima, it gets warmer and sunnier as you get closer to the equator.
- The Andean highland zone: This region includes Huaraz, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca. You will likely not see little to no rain in July and cooling temperatures that vary depending on your altitude. If visiting the Cusco region, you’ll experience more sunshine and slightly cooler temperatures with highs around 66° F (19° C) and lows around 34° F (1° C). This is a great time of year to visit.
- The large eastern area covered by the Amazon rainforest: This is a great month to visit the warm and humid jungle, including Iquitos, Tarapoto, Manu, and Puerto Maldonado, with only about six inches of rain per month (the southern area sees less rain than the north). Iquitos tends to see highs around 86° F (30° C) and lows around 70° F (21° C).
Crowds & Costs
In July, Peru’s dry season is the busiest time for international tourism, given there’s no rain and the skies are clear for hiking and sightseeing in the mountains. This is also when North and South Americans and Europeans have their summer vacations, so be sure to book your tours and accommodations several months in advance if you’re visiting during this time. (Hint: Inca Trail permits go on sale in January and popular months sell out quickly.)
Since it is low season along the coast, July is a great time to visit the beach towns, especially north of Lima, where the weather is still good and rates tend to be lower than its prime season: December through March.
Where to Go
Peru's interior, specifically the Sacred Valley, is usually a must for international visitors. Machu Picchu is the most popular and important of all Incan ruins, and the Inca Trail is the only way to hike directly into the park through the Sun Gate, though it will experience more crowds in July. 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.
For those interested in experiencing Peru's Amazon rainforest, this is the best time of year to come. The area possesses the planet’s highest levels of biodiversity and is one of the wildest places on earth with coiling rivers, cloud forests, indigenous communities, and wildlife. You can combine a trip to the jungle with the Inca Trail on this 12-day tour.
A hidden gem, Northern Peru is an area that is often overlooked by tourists. This is a great time of year to skip the Machu Picchu crowds and head north instead. Here you can find beautiful landscapes with countless bird species, pre-Incan archaeology including the adobe city of Chan Chan, and abundant nature in the cloud forest with ample opportunities for treks, hiking and exploring lakes and waterfalls. Here's a 10-day itinerary in the northern Peruvian Andes, Huaraz & Cordillera Huayhuash Trekking.
What to Do
Trekking in the highlands: Peru's Andean range has long attracted lovers of the great outdoors, and trekking is by far the most popular activity. There are numerous multi-day opportunities to choose from other than Machu Picchu; check out a list of the Best 10 Treks in Peru. For shorter hikes, here's a list of the Best Day Hikes in the Sacred Valley near Cusco.
City sightseeing: Lima often gets overlooked for the colonial city of Cusco but Peru's capital is rich in history 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.
History & Inca ruins: Within the Sacred Valley, you’ll find a host of ruins like Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, and Pisac. While these sites are smaller and 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. Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes 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.
Hiking, biking & rafting: This is a great time of year for combining any or all of these activities, with many options, like this two-week option in Southern Peru.
Cruising the Amazon River: Here's a list of the best river cruises through Peru's wild jungle ranging from 2 to 12 days.
Peru is known for its many festivals, with literally thousands of them held all over the country every year. Here are a few to look out for:
La Virgen del Carmen: Held on July 16, this holiday is mainly celebrated in Paucartambo, some four hours outside of Cusco (Pucará near Lake Titicaca is another important center). For five days, this small mountain town comes to life with festivities and thousands of tourists and locals flood to Paucartambo to partake in the party.
Fiesta del Santiago: At the end of July, Rio Mantaro Valley towns, especially Huancayo, dress up cattle and parade them through the streets. There's also singing and dancing, in what many believe is an ancient fertility right.
Fiestas Patrias: Peru's two National Independence Days are celebrated nationwide on July 28 and 29; festivities can begin as early as July 25 and expect nationwide parades and civic ceremonies.