Packing is never easy, especially when you’re about to head to another continent. Even if you think you have everything ready, there’s always that little bug asking if you have everything you need OR it’s telling you that maybe, just maybe, you overpacked and won’t be needing that extra pair of jeans you just barely managed to get in your backpack/suitcase.
Peru is a country with many regions and terrains. The landscapes vary dramatically as you move from the coastal desert inland towards the Andean highlands and then further on into the Amazonian Jungle. Peru has an extensive coastline with Lima positioned roughly halfway between top and bottom. Cusco sits at 3,399m above sea level at the foot of the Andes. Furthermore, Peru is steeped in lush green jungle with some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet. We can truly understand why the traveler might find it difficult to pack for these many environments. Luckily, after surveying roughly 4,000 travelers in a span of 1 year on what they regret bringing/not bringing and also years of traveling ourselves, we’ve managed to create the perfect checklist on what to bring and wear for each of Peru’s regions.
The coast of Peru consists of Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Ica, and Mancora to name a few. Bear in mind that the coastal region is mostly all desert making the weather not to be as expected. During the summer months, December to March, the coast is fairly warm. Days are sunny with temperatures usually resting between 25°C and 30°C (77°F to 86°F) while nights can be a bit chilly and windy. The rest of the year is cooler with a regular haze and cloudy skies. Humidity is high all year round, with occasional drizzles, which can also make the temperature feel hotter/cooler than what it really is. T-shirts and shorts are great for the summer months, while a light jacket/sweater and pants would be recommended for the winter months.
If travelling along the coast, we strongly recommend taking Peru Hop‘s route from Lima to Cusco. This will give you the opportunity to visit the variety of beautiful destinations along the South coast as well as Arequipa, Puno and Cusco.
Cusco has two very distinct seasons. December to March/April marks the rainy season. The days can be sunny but when it rains it pours. Always expect rain, so don’t leave the hotel without raincoat and decent shoes. A good raincoat is an essential on your what to bring to Peru list. In May, June and July it can be really cold in the evenings, so wear jumpers and warm jackets. June to September is the dry season. Pants would be recommended all year round in Cusco as it can get chilly. It is possible to buy warm clothes here like alpaca sweaters and jumpers but rain gear can be expensive so come prepared for the rainy season. Regular clothes, like jeans and a jumper are generally perfect attire for Cusco.
Getting to Machu Picchu generally involves walking and climbing up and down so wear comfortable clothing. Shorts are suitable as it can get warm and sticky climbing. But make sure to wear insect repellent as there are biting sandflies. The weather is quite changeable at Machu Picchu so have a sweater handy and a rain jacket. Open toe shoes are not advised for Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail (and Other Hikes)
If you are opting for the Inca trail make sure you have decent broken in hiking boots. You can wear similar clothing as Machu Picchu above, but insect repellent is a must if wearing short sleeves and shorts. Nights can be quite cold on the campsites so have something warm to wear in the nighttime. Travel light however, as you will be walking for roughly seven hours a day. Take suncream, toilet roll and hand sanitizer with you for the trek. Bring a flash light with you on the Inca Trail as the days usually starts before sunrise.
Don’t Forget: The Inca Trail is in very high demand and anyone hoping to climb Machu Picchu doing this trek should book online months in advance to ensure their pass. If you wish to search options for Inca Trail tours or any other Machu Picchu trek, we recommend looking on the tour operator comparison website FindLocalTrips.com
The jungle is hot and humid all year round. Rain is also frequent and heavy so changes of clothes will be needed. A couple of t-shirts a day and at least one change of pants will be needed each day. Mosquitos are rife in the jungle so take plenty of repellent with you especially one high in DEET. If you plan on heading to the jungle a really good insect repellent is an essential on your what to bring to Peru list. Long light clothes are the best option, as they keep you covered up. Ensure your clothing is light in colour as well so as not to attract insects. Try to avoid wearing scented sprays or perfumes. All of the lodges we use and recommend have high quality mosquito nets that cover the entire bed. Take malaria medication prescribed by your doctor. All lodges will provide rubber boots for their guests so there is no need for specific shoes, sneakers are fine. Evenings can be cool, most people just need t-shirts and shorts for sleeping.
Arequipa is lucky enough to have a warm climate all year round with temperatures ranging from 24 to 26°Celcius (75 to 78F). Shorts and light clothing are advised for Arequipa.
The Colca Canyon is roughly 100 miles (160km) from Arequipa. It is higher up than the city so weather is changeable with sunny spells and random showers. A cap/hat can be useful as when the sun is out it can be very hot. Clothes similar to those worn in Cusco are advised. If you are hiking in the Canyon follow the advice for the Inca Trail.
Other Useful Tips
Generally you can buy most things in Peru´s cities, if you do forget anything. However, hiking gear is expensive. If you are tall you might find it difficult to find clothes that fit. Also it is very difficult to find men’s shoes in a size bigger than an US11/UK10/EU44. So don’t forget a good pair of sneakers/trainers. If you are planning on hiking bring good, already broken in hiking boots. It is advised to take suncream with you, it can be expensive to purchase while here. Peru uses a two prawned pug similar to those used in the US, so make sure you have adaptors to suit. Packing to go on any vacation can be a pain,
What to Bring to Peru Check List
- Rain jacket
- Long pants
- Hiking shoes
- A hat or cap
- Insect repellent
- Sun cream
- Sun glasses
- Plug adaptors and connections
- Any required medication
- Malaria medication if traveling to the jungle
- Copy of your travel insurance
- A photocopy of your passport
For the Complete Cusco Guide on what to do, where to eat, and much more click on the button below!