• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Peru


Peruvian Geography - Cordillera Blanca
Cordillera Blanca

Peru's geography is divided into three basic areas: the narrow coastline, the Andes Mountains, and the beginning of the Amazon River in the far east. However it is the Andes that dominate this country as nearly the entire country is covered in mountains.

The coastline in the west is fairly dry, but this flatland and access to the Pacific Ocean has led to this area to be the most densely populated part of the country. The fact that the nearby mountains are difficult to access has also discouraged expansion from the coastal lands.

Peruvian Geography - Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon

The Andes receive more rain than the coast, but again the rains are limited. Most of the people in the mountains live in one of the many fertile river valleys. These valleys are limited in space so expansion is contained and many of the cities that do exist are occupied by indigenous people whose ancestors have occupied the region for hundreds, if not thousands of years. These valleys cross the Andes in all directions, draining both west to the Pacific as well as east into the Amazon River and later the Atlantic Ocean. The Andes are also very high in elevation, reaching heights of over 22,200 feet (6,700 meters) in Peru.

In the far eastern part of the country are rain forests, jungles, and rivers as the lands are very low and the wildlife is rampant. There are few people that live in the Amazon River lowlands due primarily to inaccessibility. This area is heavily forested and nearly impossible to access from the east other than via the Amazon itself. From the west the Andes Mountains also prevent easy accessibility.


Peruvian Geography - Rain forest
Rain forest

Peru is a country with great geographical variation and this becomes apparent when looking at the weather patterns, rains, and temperatures. Moving from the southwest to the northeast the country moves from low desert to mountains, and finally to low-lying rain forests. It is this geography that makes the greatest impact on the weather in Peru, although the seasons also make an impact. The weather also creates a large number of rivers, valleys, and lakes, which provide an ideal home for people. These rains and rivers give people water, plants, and animals, while the mountains provide cooler temperatures, which are needed given the fact that Peru is just south of the equator so the lowlands can be hot year round.

The dry season runs from about June to August as temperatures also tend to dip a bit in the mountains. In Cuzco daily lows are about 32° F (0° C), while days average about 66° F (19° C) in June and July. Lima is also a bit cooler this time of year as daily lows are about 60° F (15° C) with average day time highs being about 67° F (19° C) in August and September. The rain forests and the Amazon River Basin are hot and rainy during this season and year round. Iquitos has night time lows of about 72° F (22° C) and day time highs of about 88° F (31° C) year round. However, during these dry months rain is less common; however "less" is the key word in that sentence.

The wet season is most pronounced from December to March. During this time rain is more common and it tends to be more humid throughout much of the country. Along the southern coast, including Lima, rains are still rare and the humidity is low, but when it does rain in these areas it's usually this time of year. The coasts can also get fogged in during these months. Lima is hottest in February to March with lows of about 70° F (21° C) and highs generally only getting to about 80° F (27° C). In the mountains the rains are heavier this time of year as Cuzco gets regular rains this entire season. However, the mountains also warm up as Cuzco averages daily highs of about 70° F (21° C) and nights rarely get below 40° F (4° C). Again, the rain forests get rain and humidity year round and during this season the rains and humidity only get worse. Iquitos has nearly the same temperatures year round, but the rains become heavier in these months with average monthly rain falls of well over 6 inches (150 mm) throughout the year and in these months that number jumps.

The in between seasons experience much of the same temperatures and weather, although the fluctuations vary year to year and even month to month. The one consistent is in the rain forests as the weather tends to remain hot, humid, and rainy. On average, Iquitos and much of the country's northeast gets its heaviest rains in October, which doesn't coincide with the rainy season in the rest of the country.


Peruvian Geography - River

Peru has a very diverse variety of wildlife since the country has landscapes that include oceanic coastline, desert, the high Andes Mountains as well as the beginnings of the Amazon River, which is a rain forest in the country's east. These differences in geography and weather attract a large number of animals and allow many different plants to grow.

Many of the more common mammals are woodland animals, such as squirrels, mice, rats, bats, opossums, deer, rabbits, tapirs, sloths, and others. However, the mountains and rain forests attract these animals as well as others, including llamas, alpacas, vicunas (a camel species), cougars (puma), beers, armadillos, porcupines, monkeys, jaguars, and wolves. There are also some rodents unique to South America in Peru, such as the chinchilla.

Amazon Wildlife - Poison dart frog
Poison dart frog

Peru also has a huge variety of sea life in the Pacific Ocean and in the rivers that lead to the Amazon. The Pacific is home to mammals, like whales and dolphins as well as fish and shellfish. Among the animals roaming these waters are sharks, tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper, mackerel, grouper, puffer fish, anchovies, shrimp, crabs, seahorses, starfish, eels, rays, jellyfish, and sea urchins. In the fresh waters, including the rivers flowing into the Amazon River are additional species of fishes. The sea life here includes trout, pike, catfish, and others, but these animals aren't as diverse as much of the Amazon River further east.

The bird life is almost as diverse as the sea life since woodland, mountain, sea, and rain forest birds are all common. Among these are egrets, eagles, condors, partridges, coots, geese, sandpipers, ibis, herons, finches, hummingbirds, toucans, macaws, wrens, owls, sparrows, cardinals, jays, orioles, frigate birds, pigeons, parrots, parakeets, flamingos, and woodpeckers.

Peruvian Wildlife - Vicuna

The reptilian, amphibian, and insect life in Peru are also diverse, but the variety of species is still fairly limited. Many of these animals are spiders, including the tarantula and black widow, and snakes, including the rattlesnake, boa, and anaconda. In or near some of the rivers, especially those in the rainforests the amphibian population spikes as a number of frogs, iguanas, and lizards are present. The number of insects is quite substantial, including flies, mosquitos, butterflies, ants, and more.

Peruvian Wildlife - Jaguar

When it comes to native plant life, South America is home to many famous edible plants and these plants quickly spread throughout Peru, South America, and beyond. The pineapple is from the region where Brazil and Uruguay meet while potatoes are believed to be from the region around Lake Titicaca; tobacco also originated in the Andes Mountains. A few other foods, including cacao trees (used to make chocolate), peanuts, and tomatoes are also from South America, although their actual origin is unknown. Peppers, both sweet and hot peppers are from Central America or northern South America while vanilla, avocado, papaya, and corn (maize) are likely from Central America itself. No matter each food's origin, what is known is that these foods spread throughout the continent and to the country of Peru with the help of pre-historic people, animals, and winds. These people have had these foods for nearly as long as people have inhabited the region and each makes an important part of the people's diet and culture now and for thousands of years into the past.

Numerous other plants are also present in Peru. Orchids, lilies, cacti, rosewood trees, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, rubber trees, walnut trees, cedar trees, oak trees, and thousands of other trees, flowers, ferns, and plants can be found in Peru.

This page was last updated: November, 2013