Peru’s desert coast

The Peruvian coast is known for great surf, Ceviche and beautiful seaside resorts such as Mancora and Huanchaco. However, less well known is that most of the Peruvian coastal area is actually a desert.

If you visit Peru and stay with the popular tourist destinations such as Lima, Miraflores, Cusco and Machu Picchu, you might never notice there’s a desert around here somewhere, but take a ride along the “Panamericana” (the main coastal highway) and the scenery looks like this:

Peru's desert coast

Peru's desert coast

Desert scenery along the Panamericana Sur

Desert scenery along the Panamericana Sur

I got a chance to do a little bit of flying near Pisco the other day, and this is what the Pacific coast near Paracas looks like from the air (click the image to enlarge):

Flying over Peru's desert coast

Flying over Peru's desert coast

The temperatures in the Peruvian coastal areas are not the kind of extreme heat that come to mind when we think of a desert climate, in fact in the South the temperatures are rather mild or cool outside the summer months and in the North the climate is year-round vacation weather. It’s not sweltering heat that makes Peru’s coastal areas a desert, just the lack of rain.

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