January in Cusco and the Andean region of Peru means rain, rain, and more rain. When I tell people that I live in South America they immediately mention the beaches and the hot weather, and look pretty disappointed when I tell them that I live at an altitude of 3,300m and that during the South American ‘summer’ I can look forward to rain almost every day! It doesn’t really fit with the picture they have of South America. But this is not the case all over Peru, and as Cusco soaks, Lima and the coast enjoys scorching weather. Much more like those pictures you will have seen of South American beach fun! This is the time to hit the coast and enjoy the sun, sea, and sand and get away from the wet of Cusco.
During most of the year Lima can be a bit of a dull, grey place, and is actually quite reminiscent of London. Although there is no rain, opening up your curtains in the morning to be greeted by nothing but overcast skies and dejected faces, you could almost be in Oxford Street! But the summer months of December, January and February bring with them beautiful sunshine and hot weather and you can feel the lift in spirits amongst the people and the change in atmosphere of the city. It goes from being dreary London to sunny Miami! Of course the city has its problems, the sheer volume of traffic and people being the most obvious, and these can often be magnified by the heat but in summer you have the opportunity to get away to the sea or wander some of the quieter neighborhoods. There is nothing better than to escape the congested center and take a walk around the cool, cosmopolitan barrios of Miraflores and Barranco in blistering sunshine. It gives a whole new sheen to the place and brightens up your day, both literally and meteorically. And then there is the sea, always much nicer to look at on a sunny day. Sit back and relax in one of the numerous coffee shops and restaurants that litter the seafront and enjoy some of the best views over the Pacific Ocean. You could even take part in some paragliding if you are so inclined, as a sunny day really lends itself to leaping off a cliff!
But Lima is not the only place to benefit in these months, and it is now when the Northern coastal area really comes into its own. I am particularly thinking about Mancora, one of the little secrets of Peru’s coast. Although it’s not too much of a secret anymore! Peru is more known for its ruins and colonial cities, and if you want beaches and relaxation the received wisdom is that Brazil is the place to go. However, this neglects Mancora, which is increasingly making Peru a destination for people who are not interested in the Inca’s and just want sea and sun. As with most seaside towns, during the winter months Mancora winds down and morphs into something of a ghost town, meaning it is not ideal for a trip in June or July. In January though, the place comes alive, and it is now that you want to pack your bags and head out there. There are endless great hotels, catering for all tastes and budgets, and with the sun blazing and the sea warm and inviting, this is the perfect time to catch some rays! As you relax and enjoy the waves and the sand, you will certainly not be thinking about Cusco and its history, and will just want to enjoy this slice of Brazil up in the north of Peru.
So, people of Lima, spare a thought for us in Cusco enjoying days filled with rain, and more rain! Lima and the coast is a great place to visit any time of the year, but the summer brings with it some great weather, making the area that little bit more attractive to visit.