Best time to go to Peru & Galapagos

Best time to go to Peru & Galápagos


Temperature & rainfall

Click on a location: Cuzco | Galapagos
Apr-May are considered the best months to go to Peru and Galápagos; the mountains are lush from the recent rain and you’ll miss the summer crowds. But book well in advance, especially if trekking the Inca Trail; permits sell out fast. May-Oct are dry with clear skies, but cooler nights in the Andes. Wildlife can be seen in Galápagos all year round, with Jun-Nov being cooler and drier. Dec-June are warmer, with short showers, calmer seas and great underwater visibility. Feb-Apr is peak breeding or nesting season for many island species.

Things to do in Peru & Galápagos


What to do, & what not to

Things to do in Peru & Galápagos...


The main reason for combining these two destinations is, of course, to visit Machu Picchu. This marvel of Incan civilisation combines a dramatic Andean setting with incredible stonework; the stones are so skillfully carved that they fit together precisely without the need for cement. Those with four days to spare – and healthy knees – can take on the Inca Trail, crossing high passes, passing scattered ruins, and traversing mist-filled forests. Alternatively, take the train from Cuzco, enjoying panoramic views along the way.
Cuzco and Quito are two of South America’s most enchanting colonial cities – and with any luck you’ll have the opportunity to explore both. With altitudes of 3,400m and 2,850m respectively, these are not cities to rush around; mooch around the museums, browse colourful indigenous markets and sip locally grown coffee as you acclimatise.
One of the best ways to explore the Galápagos Islands is on a small ship cruise. Sailing overnight and arriving at different islands most days, this is a great way to see as much as possible – helping you appreciate their diverse landscapes, subspecies and human settlements. This is not the kind of cruise where you barely disembark; you’ll be off the ship every day, hanging out on black sand beaches, hiking up active volcanoes, visiting the giant tortoise breeding centre and snorkelling around remote, rocky outcrops, hoping for an encounter with a sea lion or marine iguana.

Things not to do in Peru & Galapagos...


Overlook local culture. The Galápagos Islands are celebrated for their wildlife and the Sacred Valley for its ancient history – but it’s worth spending time with their contemporary human inhabitants, too. Explore food and craft markets in Cuzco, chat to your local guide, and learn a few words of Quechua. Some tours even offer a homestay with your porter. Some 27,000 people live in the Galápagos, and local guides can give a fascinating insight into daily life on these protected islands. Learn about the human history, too which is as intriguing as it is grisly.
Ignore your trip notes. Peru and Galápagos holidays take you from high Andean peaks to equatorial islands by way of volcanoes, cloud forest and colonial cities. You’ll need good walking gear – especially if hiking the Inca Trail – and waterproofs, as well as sunscreen, bathers, a sun hat and possibly even a rain poncho. Chat to your holiday company, read the trip notes thoroughly – and you won’t get caught out.
Dawdle. Just 500 permits per day are available for the Inca Trail, with around 300 of these for guides and porters. There’s also limited space on Galápagos ships, especially if you’d like to be able to choose your vessel and cabin. So be sure to book well in advance – six months is on the safe side – particularly if travelling in the peak holiday months of July/August or December.
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Peru & Galápagos travel tips


Advice from our experts in South America

Choosing your ship


David Orrock, from our supplier Pura Aventura, shares his top Galápagos travel tips: "Many people feel they should go on larger boats because they’re better for seasickness, but I just think you lose a kind of intimacy with the experience. In a small boat with 16 people you get to know all your fellow passengers. You certainly spend less time getting on and standing around waiting to disembark, which is an issue on bigger ships. But there's also a romance with a smaller ship, you feel like the first pioneers that went to Galápagos. It's such a special place and it's all about getting up so much closer to nature than you normally would – if you're in a massive group you lose that to an extent. Of course, they're good ships; you have more facilities, more space...but having done it both ways, I'd always go with the smaller boat."

Small group or tailor made


Alessia Angelica, from our supplier Intrepid Travel, explains why this it is great to explore these countries as part of a small group holiday: “Being in a small group allows passengers to have more time with the local guide – especially whilst trekking. It also provides the opportunity get to know your group really well and feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe.”

Snorkelling tips


Alessia Angelica, from our supplier Intrepid Travel advises anyone thinking of snorkelling in the Galápagos: “The water surrounding the Galápagos Island reaches around 20°C to 24°C between January and May and drops to 18°C to 20°C from June to October. Although you may need to wear a wetsuit, the same currents that bring the cooler water temperatures also bring nutrients which means the animals are very active at this time of year.”

Packing tips


Alessia Angelica, Intrepid Travel: “There are no electrical outlets on the Inca Trail, so make sure you fully charge your camera and have spare batteries! Remember to wrap everything in plastic bags to keep your belongings and clothes dry. I’d also recommend bringing small plastic bags or zip lock bags for rubbish which can then be thrown in the main rubbish bag provided by the porters. And please don’t throw your toilet paper on the ground!”

Peru & Galápagos travel advice


Tips from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Peru and Galápagos travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Try to prepare for the difference in altitude, especially if staying in Cusco. All hotels provide coca leaf or tea which is very helpful, or purchase coca sweets. A light diet is essential.....and don't drink too many "pisco sours"..... Alcohol at altitude will ruin your holiday!” – Sandra Clegg

“The boat was quite bumpy when going between islands which tended to be at night, so sleeping can be awkward, maybe wear ear plugs (engine can be noisy). But to travel to so many islands this needs to be done. Would recommend to take collins Galápagos book to help identify birds etc.” – Debbie Cowburn

“Pack your clothes in waterproof bags. Despite the porters efforts to keep everything dry, when it rained on the last day many of our clothes got wet in the duffle bags. Would have been a bit miserable if we had still been camping... It can get quite rough at sea in the Galápagos. Several people, including myself, were sick one evening. Might have been able to get better medication on prescription if I had known, as the over-the-counter tablets made me drowsy. If you do feel sick, go to your cabin & lie down - it was much worse on deck. Don't let this put you off – was still a superb trip & the yacht & crew were first class.” – Carol Smith

“You will live and travel in walking footwear so make sure you get some boots or walking trainers that will go anywhere (day and evening). Take a rain poncho rather than a waterproof jacket, the poncho is easier to get on and off and will keep your rucksack dry. Pack as light as you can - It makes moving from one place to the next easier.” – Tricia Blundell

“Spend at least one day on the Galápagos mainland after coming off the boat to "wind down". I was so full of impressions and emotions, that coming so abruptly back to Quito felt a little awkward. Having a day just to stroll around the little town or sitting by the sea would have done the trick. This trip isn't the cheapest you can buy, but it sure was value for my money!” – Turid B. Ekeberg
Photo credits: [Temp chart: karlnorling] [Choosing your ship: topol6] [Snorkelling: Thomas BONNIN] [Tip1: Wendy Harman] [Tip2: Paul Krawczuk] [Helpdesk: oliver.dodd]
Written by Vicki Brown
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