October is spring in Peru and much of the country will still experience dry season, though weather patterns depend on where you are traveling. There are three distinct climate zones:
The desert strip: Peru's coast in October is sunny, warm and spring-like with rising temperatures. This region includes Mancora, Trujillo, Lima, Paracas, and Arequipa. Peru's coastline near Lima averages highs of 68° F (20° C) and lows of 59° F (15° C). In October Lima's weather may have fog that lingers over the city. North of Lima, it gets warmer and sunnier as you get closer to the equator.
The Andean or highland zone: The interior will be warming up during the day and mostly dry and sunny. This region includes Huaraz, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca. Cusco region will see highs around 70° F (21° C) and lows around ° F (° C). This is a great time to visit.
- The large eastern area covered by the Amazon rainforest: This region includes Iquitos, Tarapoto, Manu, and Puerto Maldonado. It's hot and humid throughout the year with less rain in October than November/December, especially in the southern area. This is the end of the "dry" season (afternoon rainfalls are still common), making it a great time to spot wildlife. Iquitos tends to see highs around 90° F (32° C) and lows around 72° F (22° C).
Crowds & Costs
October in Peru's Andes and Amazon regions offers few crowds. Rates and prices, in general, are lower than peak season but it's still a good idea to book your tours and accommodations several months in advance if you’re visiting during this time.
As tourism is just starting up along Peru's coastline, October 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 Andean 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. October is an ideal time of year to take this popular trek. A great alternative trail is the Salkantay Trek—a lesser-known 5-day trip 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.
Another alternative to seeing the ruins of Machu Picchu is the world's deepest canyon, Cotahuasi Canyon, located in the high Andes northwest of Arequipa. There are many trekking options here from one-day hikes to a six-day trek.
For those interested in experiencing Peru's Amazon Basin, this is the last month of the driest time of year to visit. The area possesses the planet’s highest levels of biodiversity and is one of the unique 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.
Often overlooked by tourists, Northern Peru offers 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.
Temperatures begin warming up along the coast in October, and it's worth visiting Peru's beaches for surfing (more below) and scenery. For nature and history lovers, the Paracas National Reserve to the south offers a diverse species of birds, fish, and marine mammals. There are also archaeological remnants of pre-Columbian cultures.
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 those with less time, here is a list of the Best Day Hikes in the Sacred Valley with options that include visits to waterfalls, caves, and hot springs.
Surfing: October marks the beginning of the surf season in Peru. This is when Peru attracts more northerly swells that bring along warmer water. Many beach towns north of Lima like Cabo Blanco (home of the "Peruvian pipe"), Chicama, and Mancora offer great surf conditions and a relaxed vibe with consistent sunshine.
History & Inca ruins: In the Sacred Valley are key ruins like Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, and Pisac. While these sites are slightly 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. Lake Titicaca (and the Titicaca National Reserve) near the Bolivian border is also home to numerous ruins and unique aquatic wildlife.
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), nightlife, and great shopping. Make sure to spend an evening watching the sunset overlooking the bluffs at Miraflores.
Hiking, biking & rafting: With mostly dry weather and warming temps, this is an ideal time of year for combining any or all of these activities, like this two-week option in Southern Peru.
Cruising the Amazon River: October is a great time to head to Peru's Amazon region with many options for hiking, canoeing, and birdwatching. For more adventurous types, you can take a river rafting expedition like this 11-day option. You can also take a relaxing river cruise through Peru's wild jungle. Here's a list of the best river cruises ranging from 2 to 12 days.
Peru is a country 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 in October:
La Virgen del Rosario: On October 4, this saint’s celebration comes to Lima, Apurímac, Arequipa, and Cuzco. Its biggest event is held in Ancash with a symbolic confrontation between Moors and Christians.
Great Amazon River Raft Race: In late September or early October, Peru holds the longest raft race in the world between Nauta and Iquitos.
Battle of Angamos: On October 8th, Peru remembers a key battle during the War of the Pacific against Chile and the death of Peruvian naval hero Admiral Miguel Grau.
Lord of Miracles: This is the largest Catholic procession in the Americas, taking place in Lima for most of the month.
El Señor de los Milagros: The Lord of the Miracles celebration is held in Lima on October 18 ever since an 18th-century earthquake destroyed a good part of the city leaving only an iconic image of Jesus Christ standing. This is a considerably more solemn celebration and one of the most important Peruvian festivals.
El Señor de Luren: Travel down to Ica in late October for this religious festival, marked by fireworks, processions and plenty of celebrations and merriment.
Day of the Creole Song: On October 31st, this is a nation-wide celebration (with special emphasis in Lima) seeks to encourage national and cultural identity as the center of Creole music.