Peru lies on the central western coast of the South American continent, shares borders with Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia and has a coastline along the South Pacific Ocean. It is rather heavily populated (fifth-highest on the continent) and has varied landscapes largely divided into a narrow coastal plain in the west, high-rugged central mountains (dominated by the Andes) and a large low lying jungle in the east (which leads into the Amazon). In the central Andes you find the country’s highest peak, Huascarán, at 6 768 meters. Deserts and fertile valleys lie in the coastal plain, and spring from the rivers that run from the high parts of the Andes range. These contrast with the dense eastern terrain, a combination of both cloud forests and low lying jungle.
The climate, also varied, can similarly be divided into these three main categories. Thus the coast experiences a warm-temperate climate with high humidity. Although it does not necessarily display extremes of hot or cold, the fog created by humidity in winter can feel very chilly. In summer the temperatures reach 30℃. In the north, the coast is sunny and hot almost all year round, with a short rainy period in November and December. The central and southern coast has two distinct seasons, winter (April to October) and summer (November to March), which both are temperate with little to no rain. The central highlands have a variety of altitudes with the north being lower and more humid. Across these regions, April to October brings sunny days, cold nights and little rain and winter (November to March) brings heavier rain and cooler temperatures, with daytime reaching 24℃, and nighttime around -3℃. The jungle in the east is the largest region of the country and also has two distinct seasons: from November to March it rains frequently, while from April to October it is fairly dry, making this the ideal time to visit as the rivers subside and the roads are easily accessible. There is high humidity all year round.
Our volunteer in Peru projects are located in southern parts of the country, a few in the central region (Cusco) and the other in the east (Madre de Dios region). In Cusco, the rainy season is between December and March with dry periods from May to September. Temperatures are mild all year, sitting around 20℃ at midday and 8℃ at night – although this drops to 0℃ from May to August. Humidity is at its highest from January to May. Madre de Dios region, in the Amazon rainforest, has high temperatures on average with a lot of rain (in fact the rainy season stretches across January, February, March, April, May, October, November and December). The temperatures sit at the high 20℃s-low 30℃s and drop to between 20℃ and the mid-teens (with the coldest being between June and August).