The end of September is the start of spring in Peru; much of the country still has dry weather this month, though moisture patterns depend on where you are traveling. There are three distinct climate zones:
- The desert strip: Peru's coastal region, including Mancora, Trujillo, Lima, Paracas, and Arequipa, stays sunny and warm in the north and cooler and foggier in the south. Lima averages highs of 66° F (19° C) and lows of 59° F (15° C), and there may be a mist that lingers over the city and brings a chill. North of Lima, it gets warmer and sunnier as you get closer to the equator.
- The Andean highland zone: will be dry and sunny in September with cooling temperatures in the evening that range depending on your altitude. This region includes Huaraz, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lake Titicaca. If visiting the Cusco, you’ll experience highs around 68° F (20° C) and lows around 41° F (5° C). This is a great time to visit.
- The large eastern area covered by the Amazonian forest: Though warm and humid throughout the year, September is the driest month in the Amazon and the best time to spot wildlife. This region includes Iquitos, Tarapoto, Manu, and Puerto Maldonado. Iquitos tends to see highs around 90° F (32° C) and lows around 70° F (21° C).
Crowds & Costs
In September, tourism is starting to die down and this is the ideal time to avoid the crowds yet still have chances of great weather. Rates and prices in general start to lower but it's still a good idea to book your tours and accommodations several months in advance if you’re visiting during this time, especially at the beginning of the month.
As tourism is still low along Peru's coastline, September is a great time to visit the beach towns, especially north of Lima, where the weather is 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 high on the list 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. The trail will be less crowded in September than August.
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 visit. 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. 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. As for shorter hikes, here's a list of the Best Day Hikes in the Sacred Valley with options that include visits to waterfalls, caves, and hot springs.
History & Inca ruins: Within the Sacred Valley, you’ll find a host of other 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 on the border between Peru and Bolivia is also home to numerous ruins.
Sightseeing 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 (see below for Lima's annual culinary festival!), buzzing nightlife, and great shopping. Make sure to spend an evening watching the sunset overlooking the bluffs at Miraflores.
Hiking, biking & rafting: 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: September is a good time to head to Peru's Amazon—you can take a river rafting expedition or opt for a relaxing river cruise through Peru's wild jungle. Here are the best river cruises 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:
International Spring Festival: This celebration throughout the month of September (especially during the last week) is held in the colonial city of Trujillo where streets and houses are decorated for spring. The festival features impressive displays of horsemanship, as well as dancing and cultural celebrations headed by the Queen of Spring.
Mistura Culinary Festival: For one week in mid-September, this massive food festival with international acclaim is held in Lima, attracting over a half a million visitors to sample the country's best restaurants and street food. Peruvian cuisine is some of the world's best and Lima in particular features what is probably South America's most impressive culinary scene. The festival features over 200 restaurants and bars not to mention plenty of outdoor vendors and food carts.