wildlife on an Amazon River cruise - hyacinth macaw

If you’re heading to the Amazon River region of Peru, what time of year should you go?

Well this might not need to be a major consideration if your windows of opportunity are limited.

In most destinations there’s a high season and a low season, which may or may not correspond to the months with the best weather. There are some destinations, however, where it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in terms of temperatures. In many tropical climates, the choices are either “wet” or “dry.” Sometimes it’s just “wet” and “wetter.”

If you’re going to go on a cruise along the Amazon River, there are a few fluctuations to keep in mind. Here’s what International Expeditions has to say on it:

The average high temperature during the low-water season (June through October) is around 100ºF, with an occasional tropical shower to cool things off. More than 60% of the region’s rainfall occurs during the wet season (November to May), when average high temps are around 12º cooler. But the excess humidity makes it feel moist and muggy, especially in the rainforest.

There's a good chance of spotting pink dolphins on Amazon River cruise through the jungles of Peru.There is only one month of the year when they don’t have a small ship cruise going out and that’s February. You probably don’t want to go to Peru in general in February unless you’re heading to a really dry area in the north or around Paracas. The Inca Trail is closed, your Machu Picchu photos will be lousy, and you’re liable to get drenched every day in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. This year there were bad floods and landslides. It’s the same story in the Amazon, where an area high in rainfall gets even more of it then.

Otherwise, you can book a trip at least one time most months, with two voyages or more to choose from May through December of 2019. (There is still availability for many of the 2018 trips.) Scroll down to the dates on this Peruvian Amazon page to see the options.

So does this mean that, apart from February, it doesn’t really matter when you go? Well, you’ll have a good time and spot lots of wildlife regardless, but the main variable in this region is the water level of the river. There is a lot of rain along the Amazon, but the water-level fluctuation is mostly a result of seasonal rains and snow in the Andes and along the rivers 2,280,000 square-mile drainage basin.

Here’s how IE expedition leader Freddy Avalos lays it out:

As far as the differences, during the high water season the river rises 22 feet. So during this time we have better opportunities to explore more creeks and lakes. We’re closer to the tree canopy, which gives us a better chance to watch and take pictures of the beautiful wildlife. It’s also the best season for visitors to find the Giant Water Lily, Victoria Regia.

The low water season will provide similar Amazon wildlife, but during this time we have more chances to walk in the forest. This is a great way to discover and learn more about the plants, insects, and frogs of the forest. There are also great opportunities for fishing, and to watch the migratory birds in flight. With IE, we also offer the unique experience of walking on the Amazonian beaches, with incredible sunsets.

International Expeditions Zafiro river cruise ship in South America

Want to get a sneak peek at what kind of animals you might spot along the Amazon River? Here’s a rundown on 21 Amazon species.