Paracas is a small coastal town on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and the departure point to the Ballestas Islands. Part of the 827,450 acre Paracas National Reserve, these rocky islands are home to a surprising diversity of wildlife, including Humboldt penguins, blue-footed boobies, and colonies of sea lions. Back on land, explore the reserve and its impressively remote landscape by bike or ATV.
The town of Ica and its surrounding area is home to the Peruvian favorite spirit, Pisco. Here, explore some of South America’s oldest wineries and distilleries, and visit quaint bodegas and private haciendas, all with interesting stories to tell. In the nearby Huacachina village is the palm-tree-ringed Huacachina Lagoon, a literal oasis among the sand dunes, an experience out of a storybook. Adventure lovers can try sand boarding and buggies.
From here, exploring Nazca and its enigmatic desert lines, is a must. Nazca, the largest town in the Nazca Province, earned its name from the culture that flourished in the region from 100 to 800 CE. The Nazca Lines are a collection of impressively large pre-Colombian geoglyphs, thought to be created between 500BCE and 500CE. Etched in the iron-red soil, the lines are visible by small-craft plane tour, and for those less risky travellers, you can also view a portion of the lines from some lookouts. They are hundreds of symbols, ranging from simple geometries to complex animal figures. Theories about its use vary from ritual to practical purposes and remain an unsolved enigma to anthropologists, ethnologists and archaeologists still today.