The arid desert that lies beside Peru’s southern Pacific coastline and the sea beyond it are home to a host of mysterious treasures and unusual experiences. From mythical markings in the Nazca Desert, to curious towns built around an oasis, to islands laden with tropical wildlife, this unique part of Peru will delight and amaze even the most jaded of travelers. This area has been settled for more than 10,000 years, and several ancient cultures arose in the valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca and Ica. These cultures undertook engineering projects like the building of underground aqueducts, produced textiles, ceramics and crafts and, most famously, laid out geoglyphs. The Paracas, followed by the Nazca, based themselves in the desert plains of coastal southern Peru, and while their cultures were relatively short-lived they left an enduring legacy which draws thousands of visitors each year. Whether you’re interested in fascinating geologies and geometries, art, history, nature or adventure, the Ica Region has a wealth of amazing experiences to offer.
Your English speaking pilot will proceed to give you a briefing about this air tour and also will give each participant a map of the archaeological zone, which shows all the figures you will see from the air. After some basic information about the lines and safety instructions, you will board the airplane and will take off. In a matter of just 2 minutes you will be flying over the Nazca Lines zone. The first figure you will see from the air will be the whale. This beautiful marine deity is located on the eastern part of the archaeological complex, and was drawn over a big rectangular figure. The next figure you will see is a triangle, which appears over a small hill featuring 3 points. Some kilometers further west we will find one of the strangest creatures on the Nazca desert “The Astronaut.” Later on we will fly over the monkey figure, an enormous drawing that measures about 90 meters in length. Then you will find the spider, a figure that according the local knowledge, represents the fertility and water. Some meters away we will find the huge condor figure, featuring a straight line that crosses its wings and points towards the place where the sun sets every year on summer solstice. In addition, you will appreciate different figures like the flamingo, the parrot, several geometric designs around the beautiful valley of Ingenio or the Huarango tree. After flying over these wonderful figures, we will return to the aerodrome.
Flying over the Nazca Lines from Pisco can save a lot of travel time given the town of Nazca is 7 hours away from Lima, each way. There is an option to fly from Pisco that can help smooth out your itinerary in case you’d prefer to keep things moving and visiting Arequipa is not on your bucket list after the Nazca Lines. Your English speaking pilot will proceed to give you a briefing about this air tour and also will give each participant a map of the archaeological zone, which shows all the figures you will see from the air. After some basic information about the Lines and safety instructions, you will board the airplane and take off on a 1.5 hour flight aboard a modern Cessna Gran Caravan plane with capacity for 12 passengers. The first figure you will see from the air it will be the whale. This beautiful marine deity is located on the eastern part of the archaeological complex, and was drawn over a big rectangular figure. The next figure you will see is a triangle, which appears over a small hill featuring 3 points. Some kilometers further west we will find one of the strangest creatures on the Nazca desert “The Astronaut.” Later on we will fly over the monkey figure, an enormous drawing that measures about 90 meters in length. Then you will find the spider, a figure that according the local knowledge, represents the fertility and water. Some meters away we will find the huge condor figure, featuring a straight line that crosses its wings and points towards the place where the sun sets every year on summer solstice. In addition, you will appreciate different figures like the flamingo, the parrot, several geometric designs around the beautiful valley of Ingenio or the Huarango tree. After flying over these wonderful figures, we will return to Pisco.
The cemetery of Chauchilla is an intriguing place located in the middle of the desert; you will wonder how the Nazca Culture managed to survive in the area for so long. Mummies can be seen amidst some fading ruins, ancient textiles, and an arid landscape scattered with human bones, all of which seem impervious to both time and the relentless heat of the sun. It has been speculated that over 400 tombs were built in the area with over 1,000 corpses buried among them. Looters have in the past raided much of the site although the mummies and many of the artifacts remain. It is really a unique opportunity to learn from the Nazca people.
You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the Paracas harbor located nearby. At the Paracas dock you will board a boat equipped with life vests and comfortable seats. We will then leave and head towards the Ballestas Islands. Along the way we will see the famous figure known as The Candelabro, an enigmatic design etched on the desert floor hundreds of years ago. The Candelabro is overlooking the ocean, so here you will have the chance to take pictures, as well as to learn about the most popular theories about it. Afterwards we will continue to the Ballestas Islands. The Ballestas Islands are inhabited by amazing marine life, with over 200 types of migratory and resident birds, including Peruvian Pelicans, Belcher’s gulls, Humboldt penguins, guanay cormorants, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, Peruvian boobies, turkey vultures, among others. In addition you will also see hundreds of sea lions resting around the Islands, at the beaches, sleeping on the rocks or swimming nearby. The Islands also provides shelter to the shy Humboldt penguins which are usually seen at the entrances of small caves near the cliffs. After touring around the islands for about 1 hour we will return to the Paracas harbor.
One of the highlights around Pisco is the Paracas National Reserve, where a number of animal colonies such as sea lions and coastal birds reside. A protected area since 1975, Paracas is not only an important breeding ground for many resident bird species, but also plays a key role as a reserve for migrant birds: 63 species from the Arctic, 6 from the Galapagos Islands and 34 from Patagonia as well as a score of Andean migrants. A must for nature lovers. Today you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to Paracas National Reserve, declared a World Heritage Natural Side by UNESCO. The reason for this rich wildlife is the cold upwelling of the Humboldt Current. The sharp contrast between the desert and the sea also provides a stunning landscape. The tour begins with the excursion to this reserve of Paracas, Julio C. Tello Museum, continues La Boveda, where you will do short walk around the sea going in to the cave, several viewpoints of Wolves and Lagunillas beach before returning to your hotel.
Renting a bike is definitely the best way to explore the wonderful Paracas Peninsula and take in some splendid scenery. After a brief set of safety instructions which include the delivery of all biking gear needed and a map of Paracas to help you get your bearings, you will be free to enjoy a full day cycling around the Peninsula enjoying the stunning rocky and arid coastline. Free from any restraints you can race down the roads or pedal at your leisure along the tranquil, beautiful and safe Paracas Peninsula.
On this classic tour of Ica we will visit the city’s highlights, such as the traditional Bodegas or Vineyards where the locals produce the famous Pisco (a grape brandy), the Regional Museum and the beautiful oasis of La Huacachina. Starting in the morning or afternoon, you will be picked up from your hotel by our local guide and will start our visit at the Vineyards of Pisco. At the bodegas, as they are locally known, we will do a nice walking tour exploring with our guide the places where this delicious Peruvian drink is made. Later on, we will visit the Regional Museum of Ica, an interesting building that houses the remains of the ancient cultures that developed on the southern coast. We will start our visit, walking through the pre-Inca rooms, which display fine textiles from the Paracas people, wonderful pieces from the Nazca culture, featuring amazing musical instruments and great pictures of the Nazca Lines. Afterwards we will drive southwest towards the Oasis of La Huacachina, a gorgeous lagoon surrounded by palm trees and huge sand dunes. Here you will be able to have lunch and to practice sand boarding over the impressive sand dunes overlooking the lagoon.
This short journey along the ‘Pisco route’ is guaranteed to please your palate! After being picked up from your hotel, we will drive to the winery the Taster, where you will learn about the process of making artisanal pisco while tasting some of its best varieties. We then proceed to the ‘Bodega Vista Alegre,’ an industrial warehouse that produces up to five million liters of pisco a year. Bodega Vista Alegre produces pisco and semi-dry wine, unlike an artisan winery that produces only sweet wines. The tour ends with the Tacama winery, where we will visit the production area and learn more about the process of creating their delicious pisco and wine. The Tacama winery also boasts beautiful bell towers dating from the colonial era from which you can enjoy fantastic views of the vineyard.
Nestled in the Ica Valley in Peru, amidst the gentle hills that precede the mighty Andes, lies the oldest distillery in the Americas established in 1684. Hacienda La Caravedo welcomes you to discover the birthplace of the Ultra Premium White Spirit Pisco Portón and to watch all the exciting steps that take the grape to the bottle. The ancient distillery engages itself in maintaining centuries of Peruvian heritage and producing high quality artisanal spirits. Bodega La Caravedo is run by the master distiller Johny Schuler, who has dedicated much of his life to setting excellent standards in the distilling industry and to revitalizing interest in Peru’s native spirit industry. The tour of the distillery will introduce you to the 7 varieties of pisco strains and will allow you to visit the original facilities from 1684, that still house a giant circular container where the grapes were stomped. The tour is completed by a Peruvian Paso horse show and an extensive visit to the new distillery and a tasting session of Ultra Premium Pisco Portón and Piscos Puros Pagos de los Frailes.
Join this special experience to get to know the ins and outs of the charming city of Ica. Our tour begins at the Regional Museum, that hosts a great number of archaeological remains such as pottery, textiles and mummies belonging to ancient Peruvian indigenous civilizations such as the Nasca, the Wari, the Chincha or the Inca. Our tour then continues at the splendid Huacachina Lagoon, known as ‘El Oasis de América,’ that truly merits its name as being a lush oasis surrounded with immense sand dunes. Next, we will visit Luren’s Church, famous for its black Jesus, before proceeding to the cotton estate and the asparagus factory. We will also visit Helena’s chocolate factory and admire the creation of tejas and chocotejas, typical sweets of the region. We’ll continue to tempt your taste buds with an extensive tour of a semi industrial Winery, located at 15km outside of Ica. We will observe how modern facilities have replaced the traditional methods of making and conserving wines and Pisco. After a mind-blowing day of cultural discovery, you will be transported back to your hotel.
The area on and around Peru’s southern Pacific enjoys dry and sunny weather all year round, so it can be visited at any time of the year. Nazca, Ica, and Paracas are hot and sunny throughout the year, their weather typical of a desert region. When visiting Ica, is best to travel in the spring from April to May, or in the austral autumn from October to November. The summer months of December, January and February are perfect for visiting the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve, and sea lions give birth between January and March, so this is a great time to visit and see nature in action. You might also catch a glimpse of humpback whales making their way north for mating season from August to October. While the Nazca Lines can be seen all year round, if you are planning on flying above them, the best time to go is between November and March, when the chance of rain is small and days are clearer and less hazy.
As this part of Peru does not have an airport, the only way to get to the area is via the Pan-American Highway. The trip to Ica from Lima takes about 5 hours, while the trip to Nazca from Lima takes about 7 hours, and to Paracas about 4 hours. This region can be reached by bus from Lima along the highway, or we can arrange a private transfer for you, just ask our travel experts and they will advise you on the best means of transport.
This region of Peru has a variety of different accommodations, from rustic lodgings to economic hotels and upscale luxury resorts, but, as with most things in this region, make sure to ask us well in advance about booking your accommodation, as availability it can be limited and fills up quickly. Visiting this region will also allow you the chance to sample some of the area’s indigenous cuisine, but if you would rather something less exotic, there are plenty of restaurants that cater to international tourists, especially in Ica. Paracas is famous for its seafood, so be sure to try this. It is best to book an excursion or private tour to the Nazca Lines or the Paracas National Reserve, just ask one of our travel advisors and they can assist you with this. Boat trips to the Ballestas Islands and plane rides over the Nazca Lines should be booked well in advance.