What should I bring to wear in Cusco, Peru?
When many people picture Peru, they think of hot weather and sunshine. While many parts of Peru are hot, like the jungle and Lima, the Andes can be very cold. Because of the altitude, Cusco can drop into the high 40s at night and although it is usually in the 70s during the day, you should always be prepared because the weather can change quickly. Most hotels and all private homes in Cusco do not have central heating, or even individual heaters. When you are packing to come to Cusco, please remember to bring warm clothes. Although it is not necessary to have a full winter coat, we recommend bringing a lot of layers and a good fleece for the nighttime. However, in Cusco there are many stores and even people on the street that sell jackets, sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats made from alpaca, llama, or sheep wool, so if you do not bring enough warm clothing there are plenty of places where you can get great clothing souvenirs. Also, June and July are the coldest months and at night the temperature can drop down even lower to the 30s.
However, since Cusco is located at such a high altitude, this also means that when the sun is out, that it is very strong and temperatures can get up to the 80s. Since the sun is so strong, it is important to have a hat or use sunscreen since you can burn very easily. Even though the temperature can get high, it is important to mention that local women never wear shorts in Cusco, so avoid bringing shorts or short skirts. Dresses or skirts that are medium or long length are fine to wear.
Another important thing to consider when you are packing is the rain. In Cusco, the dry season is from April to September and the rainy season lasts from October to March, with the rainiest months being January and February. If you are coming during the rainy season, it is important to have rain gear, such as a rain jacket. Plastic ponchos for the rain also can be purchased in many local shops, with the cheapest costing about 5 Peruvian soles and the more durable ones about 20 soles. Here in Peru, it is common practice to barter at local shops to determine the price.
If you are going to do a hike to Machu Picchu that involves camping, then there are additional clothing items that you should make sure to bring. For footwear, we recommend wearing waterproof hiking boots or shoes, and also bringing a pair of flip flops or sandals to wear at the campsites. While hiking, you will want to have comfortable hiking clothes made from light fabrics that wick away moisture or dry quickly if it rains or from sweating. In some campsites the temperatures can get below freezing, so it is also necessary to bring thermals, long underwear, warm socks, gloves, and a warm stocking cap. It is also important to bring rain gear including a rain jacket and plastic poncho, especially during the rainy season when it may start raining at any time.