The Amazon River in Peru has basically has two seasons, a high water season (December through May) and a low water season (June through November). Traveling to Peru in either season offers rich rewards . . . fabulous sites . . . amazing opportunities to view plant and animal life . . . and hot weather with some rainy days here and there.
Two key points to remember, as you choose between visiting Peru and the Amazon River in the high water season or during the low water season: there will be some rain whichever season you choose, and you will see spectacular wildlife and plant life, whether you go in the wetter or in the drier season. The Amazon basin is as rich and lush and green as it is because it gets an abundance of rain (12 feet a year on average). In a typical year, the Amazon River rainforest experiences 200 rainy days, which means that there will be days of heavy rain even in the low water season.
Peru’s rainy season runs from December through May - summer and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This is our relatively cooler and wetter season when the Amazon region receives a little more than half (60%) of its total rainfall. During the high water season the average temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit, only 12 degrees cooler than in the low water season.
There are great benefits to traveling to Peru’s Amazon at this time of year. Perhaps most important, the Amazon Basin’s rivers and streams are about 23 feet higher than they are during the low water season, meaning that every river, creek and lake is navigable. Thus, you are able to explore on your cruise excursions by skiff, more of the waterways of Amazonia and will have access to areas with more plant life and wildlife than if you travel to Peru during the low water season. The flooded waterways put travelers much closer to the Amazon jungle canopy, where monkeys play and our beautiful Amazon birds like to roost. In fact, you are very likely to see many more mammals, both monkeys and others, during the high water season.
Enhanced navigation by water has a flip side - areas to walk and hike are sometimes limited at this time, and if we do find usable hiking trails there will be more mosquitoes than in the low water season. Fishing in the Amazon River is more limited during these months too, but you still have close to a 50:50 chance to get out your rod and reel and make a catch.
Visiting Peru: June Through November - Low water Season
The low water season in Amazonia coincides with our winter in the Southern Hemisphere (from June to November). This is the warmer season on the Amazon River, with temperature averaging about 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and, despite its name, the low water season still exhibits some heavy rains.
A key difference between visiting Peru in this season vs in the high water season is that trails and jungle paths that are flooded from December to May are now easily accessible, allowing groups to explore deep in the jungle by foot (and accompanied by fewer mosquitoes than during the flooded season). The flip side of this is that water levels on the Amazon River and its tributaries are much lower from June to November, which means that many of the creeks and lakes that we visit during the rainy season are inaccessible. But lower water levels, however, can be a bonus in another way: During these months fishing is 100 percent guaranteed . . . you even stand a fair chance to catch a piranha. And while you are farther below the birds that roost in the Amazon jungle canopy, you will have the chance to see dozens of species of migratory birds in flight, something you would completely miss during the high water season.
The Bottom Line: The Best Times to Visit Peru’s Amazon
If seeing our glorious high watered forest and getting close-up looks at lots of birds and mammals (and enjoying a slightly cooler temperature) sounds attractive, then the December to May season might be your best choice. (Remember: Despite being the “rainy” season, the Amazon only gets about 10% more rain than falls in the low water season).
If jungle hikes, seeing exotic migratory birds perch on trees as they pass through Amazonia, still having the chance to see monkeys and other mammals, and going on great fishing expeditions top your list, you might be happier choosing the warmer, low water season.
Perhaps the best solution of all is to choose one season this year… and the other in the future. Regardless, whichever season you choose, your luxury cruise down Peru’s Amazon will be an unforgettable experience.