Geography of Peru

Peru geography is full of contrasts, from coastal deserts to the Andes mountains

At just over 798,000 square miles, Peru is the third largest country in South America, about five times larger than the UK and five times smaller than Australia. It lies in the tropics south of the equator and is divided into three very different geographical regions: the Pacific coastal strip, the Andes mountains and the Amazonian lowlands.

Deserts of the Coastal Region

The narrow coastal strip consists mainly of desert, merging at its southern end into the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. The coast includes Lima, the capital, and several major cities that are oases watered by about 40 rivers that cascade from the Andes. These oases have been developed as agricultural centers where the creation of irrigation channels over the centuries has utilized the fertile soil deposited as silt by the rivers. It's a strange sight to see the green fields morph into sandy or rocky desert at the point where irrigation ends.

The Andean Region

The Andes, the world's second highest mountain chain, reach over 20,000 feet just 60 miles inland. Peru's highest peak, Huascaran (22,200 ft), is the world's highest tropical peak and the sixth highest in the Americas. Tropical they may be, but the Andes have year-round glaciers above 16,000 feet. Between 10,000 and 13,000 feet lie agricultural lands supporting half of Peru's population. The rugged landscape brims with jagged ranges separated by deep canyons, rewarding travellers with spectacular scenery. The eastern Andean slopes receive much rainfall and are clothed in green cloud forests as they drop into the Amazon basin.

Andean region of Peru

The Amazon Basin

The Amazon Basin stretches down the eastern side of Peru and represents more than half of the country. This vast tropical forest is fed by countless rivers and streams including the Amazon, Maranon, Hallaga and Ucayali rivers.

Here's a video of the Tambopata Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon, shot during our 'Jaguar' trip:

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Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Generally enjoyed the trip but I fell down on the second day of the W-trek in Patagonia. We Had great tour guides and company which made up for the disappointment of not being able to fully participate in the trip.
    Siew Hong Lim Review Image
    – Singapore, Singapore
    Condor, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Better than expected

    I had done one group tour before and lots of hiking with my local hiking club, but this tour was beyond what I was expecting. The people, the guide, the coordination and logistics - all were fantastic and well done. Of course, what truly made the trip was the amazing location and breathtaking adventure.
    Amy Linsky Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Whoa! What an incredible trip!

    There aren't any words that could properly prepare you for what is in store. Patagonia was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

    Cynthia was an amazing guide, she took such good care of us! She routinely went above and beyond to ensure we were safe, happy, healthy and well fed. What a gem she was! And on top of being great at her job, she's just an awesome person, fun, smart, flexible, just the kind of person you want touring you around the edge of the earth for 2 weeks.

    The trip itself was absolutely breathtaking. No photo could do that place justice. The W trail was an amazing hike full of ever changing views (and lots of wind!). Definitely, pay the extra to do the Grey Glacier hike! It was a trip highlight!

    Get ready to take your jacket on and off more in one day than you would over the course of a month back home :) Everything they say about the weather is true. You are at the mercy of the elements, but for the most part, we lucked out with weather (and when we didn't Cynthia always had a plan B).

    I'm so glad we did this! We will definitely be touring with Active again. Those folks do a stellar job of setting you up for an exciting adventure.
    Celeste Olds Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Condor, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Awesome

    Just returned from two weeks travelling with Active Adventures in Patagonia and it could not have been better. The scenery was spectacular, the days and evenings varied and interesting and we ate and were treated like royalty. Everything was first class on our trip including our tour leader Arturo Rojas who was professional and just awesome in every way. We had a group of 15 trekkers and we very quickly became fast friends. I'm sure there are many companies out there but from my experience I don't think you can go wrong with Active Adventures. I'm already looking forward to my next trip with them.
    Bill Murphy Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Condor Nov 16

    have used Active in NZ for Rimu trip and Condor trip lived up to expectations. It's some of the simple things like size of groups, quality of guides etc that make the difference for me. The sorting out of tips and meals just makes for an easy time as I travel for the trekking not the organising :-) good stuff active. Thanks
    Bob Sewell Review Image
    – Essex, United Kingdom
    Condor, December 2016

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