Conditions along the Amazon River in Peru divide into two seasons: a high water season from December through May and a low water season that lasts from June until November. Cruising the Amazon in either season promises rich rewards with breathtaking opportunities to view and photograph magnificent plant and animal life unlike anywhere else on earth.
Weather in this region of the Amazon remains generally warm with some rainfall even during low water season. In fact, despite being the “rainy” season, during the high water months, the Amazon only gets about 10% more rain than in the low water season. So, as you choose the time of your Aqua Expeditions cruise on the Amazon River (in either season), we suggest you consider the following three key points:
1. Some rain will fall in whichever season you choose. This is the Amazon Rainforest.
3. In either season, you will definitely see the Amazon River’s rare pink dolphins.
The Amazon basin is as lush and green as it is because it gets an abundance of rain — 3.6 meters, or 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 rain even in the low water season. However it rarely rains all day. Rain most often falls in passing cloudbursts, which allow Aqua Expeditions to coordinate our excursions accordingly. When it does rain, we provide sturdy ponchos to ensure our guests stay extremely comfortable so they can focus on the astonishing Amazon jungle scenery.
High Water Season on the Amazon: December Through May
Peru’s rainy season runs from December through May, which is summer and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This is our relatively cooler and wetter season when the Amazon region receives more than half (60%) of its total annual rainfall. During the high water season, the average temperature is 86°F (30°C), only 12°F (7°C) cooler than in the average low water season.
Benefits of visiting Peru’s Amazon at this time of year include the dramatic high water panorama. The Amazon Basin’s rivers and streams rise about 23 feet (7 meters) higher than during the low water season. Aside from the striking visual affect, this also means that every river, creek and lake is navigable. Thus, Aqua Expeditions tenders are able to cruise further along the wildlife-rich waterways of Amazonia and bring our guests up close to more plants and Amazon animals than during the low water season. Flooded waterways carry us significantly deeper by water into the Amazon jungle canopy, where our kaleidoscope of Amazon birds flutter about. Although the odds of sighting wildlife do not change significantly between the two seasons, you are likely to see more of some Amazon wildlife favorites such as monkeys, turtles and caimans during the high water months.
Enhanced navigation by water has a flip side – areas to walk and trek become less accessible at this time of year. When we do find usable hiking trails, so will the mosquitoes that are more prevalent now than during the low water season. Fishing in the Amazon River is actually more limited during these high water months too, but you still have close to a 50:50 chance to reel in a memorable catch.
Low Water Season on the Amazon: June through November
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°F (37°C). Despite its name, the low water season still exhibits some heavy rains.
A key difference between visiting Peru in low season vs. high water season is we can now access the jungle trails that get flooded from December to May, allowing our small groups to follow Aqua Expeditions naturalists and local Amazonia guides deeper into the jungle by foot, and accompanied by fewer mosquitoes than during the high water season.
Our guests also tend to spot an even greater abundance of migratory birds in flight during the low water season. However, the trade-off at this time of year is that water levels on the Amazon River and its tributaries drop much lower from June to November, which means that many of the creeks and lakes that we visit by tender during the rainy season are now inaccessible. Lower water levels, do offer a bonus: good fishing is 100% guaranteed, you even stand a fair chance to catch a piranha.
The Bottom Line:The Best Times to Visit Peru’s Amazon
If seeing our glorious Amazon rainforest at its lushest and getting up close to lots of birds and mammals (and enjoying slightly cooler temperatures) sounds most attractive, then December to May might be your best choice.
If jungle hikes and spotting exotic migratory birds perched on trees between flights across Amazonia appeals most to you, while still having the chance to see capuchin monkeys, kinkajou, and other mammals, and going on great fishing expeditions, you might be happier choosing the warmer, low water season.
Our guests are awed by the Amazon at whatever time of year they visit (as are we), perhaps the best solution is to choose one season this year…and the other in the future!