CIVILIZATIONS OF THE DESERT

Running down the steep dunes of the desert in a buggy vehicle or a sand board, taking a trip boat to the Ballestas Islands or flying over the Nazca lines, are just some of the incredible ways you have available to visit the region of Ica, on an incredible journey through an enigmatic land of profound religious faith filled with sand dunes, valleys and sun. Some of the most important civilizations of ancient Peru established themselves here, such as the Paracas and the Nazca. Each of them left a legacy that has endured the passage of time and the power of the sand and wind.

 


TOUR CATEGORY
  • Archaeological
  • Cultural
  • Nature

LOCATION
  • Ica
  • Nazca
  • Paracas

ACTIVITY LEVEL
  • Easy

DURATION
  • 4 days

WHEN TO GO
  • Year Round

PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE

  • Enjoy a land tour to see unique landscapes of sea and desert
  • Learn about the amazing Paracas culture.
  • Take a boat ride around the spectacular Ballestas islands, shelter for thousands of sea birds, sea lions and Humboldt penguins.

ICA AND HUACACHINA OASIS

  • Explore a beautiful oasis surrounded by huge sand dunes
  • Wander around the beautiful old houses now converted into cozy bars, pubs and restaurants.
  • Race in powerful dune buggies down the steep sandy slopes of the desert.
  • Have a relaxing exploration of the dunes.
  • Visit some of the best wine and Pisco cellars and learn all about the process of this distinguished Peruvian drink.

NAZCA LINES

  • Learn about the Nazca civilization
  • Discover the different theories of the creation of the famous Nazca lines from over 1000 years ago.
  • Take a flight over the lines and decide the truth for yourself.

DAY 01 LIMA - PARACAS

Transfer from the hotel to the bus station to take the first class bus to Paracas (3 hours approx). You will be welcomed by our staff and transferred to your hotel.

The rest of the day is free for you to relax and experience the incredible sunset over the Pacific Ocean while enjoying a Pisco sour, our national drink. Alternatively, rent a paddle, kayak or kite or even spend an active afternoon doing water sports.

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DAY 02 PARACAS - ICA

Breakfast

The day begins with an early transfer from your hotel to the pier accompanied by your local guide. On arrival, board a speedboat equipped with life vests and comfortable seats. It is advisable to wear a good jacket or windbreaker, as it gets very windy once the boat sets off. We head off on the 30 minute journey to the Ballestas Islands following the coast where we see the famous figure known as The Candelabro or Chandelier, an enigmatic giant trident form similar in style to the Nazca lines etched into the desert floor hundreds of years ago by pre-Inca cultures. The Candelabro overlooks the Ocean, giving you the chance to take pictures, while learning about the most popular theories of its creation, which range from pirates marking a hiding place for their treasure to soldiers fighting for Latin-American independence from Spain.

Unfortunately, it is not allowed to get off the boat to walk around the islands, but the boats get close enough to see the 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 many others. The Islands are also home to hundreds of sea lions resting on the beaches, sleeping on the rocks or swimming nearby. Equally, the islands provide shelter for the shy Humboldt penguins. After touring around the islands for about 1 hour we return to Paracas or Chaco pier.

The land tour of the Paracas National Reserve, a must for nature lovers now continues.

We tour the terrestrial area of Paracas National Reserve by private car and take in the spectacular view of the desert dunes and Pacific Ocean. As the tour continues, the next stop is in the fishing town of Lagunillas for lunch overlooking the sea. Take the opportunity to try Ceviche, one of the most famous Peruvian dishes made with local ingredients. There is also time to swim in the cold water of the Pacific. (Meals not included).

Return to your hotel on time to get the bus to Ica, 1 hour approx (buses can also go directly to Nazca or to back to Lima)

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DAY 03 ICA - NAZCA

Breakfast

The journey begins with a visit to Huacachina, an oasis located just 5 Km from Ica city and situated in the desert surrounded by huge sand dunes, palms, huarangos (carob tree) and beautiful houses. At the end of the XIX century, Huacachina was practically uninhabited and then Italian Angela Perotti rediscovered the medical properties of the water and sand of the lagoon could be used to cure skin and rheumatism illnesses. This is an ideal place for those who like to relax and also those who like their activities a little more adrenaline filled.

Very few places in the world offer sand dunes of the size found in Huacachina, so why not see them up close? This is the ever-popular sandboarding / dune buggy tour that made Huacachina famous. The dune buggy ride is much like a rollercoaster. All of the decent drivers will drive at high speeds up and down the dunes while the tourists shriek with delight (and fear.) Although many tourists go to Huacachina especially to try sandboarding, at least half the visitors say they preferred the adrenaline of the dune buggy.

Be advised: It is not possible to drive or rent the dune buggy. Only trained professionals are allowed to drive.

Relaxing Exploration of the Dunes: If you want to explore the dunes around Huacachina but aren’t interested in raising your adrenaline levels or blood pressure then this tour is for you. At a much slower pace, you will be taken on a desert tour and have the opportunity to take photos of the desert and the oasis from a higher vantage point. A perfect activity for younger children and those interested in taking life at a relaxed pace.

After your adventure in the desert we continue the tour visiting the local wineries. Ica is very famous for its Pisco (grape liquor) and wine. This tour includes a visit to some of the best wine and pisco cellars in the region, where you learn the process of preparing the Pisco and the wine. At the “bodegas”, as they are locally known, we take a pleasant walking tour accompanied by our guide to explore where this traditional Peruvian drink is made visiting the whole vineyard, its main tasting room and chatting with the Pisco makers. According to history, this Brandy-like liquor has been made since 1540 in Peru, and at the time it was known simply as a spirit drink. It was not until the XVII century that the grape brandy became known as Pisco. It is said that when the Incas arrived in this area around 1450th, the area was filled with sea birds along the shore of the Pacific Ocean that they chose to name the area with the name of Pisco, a Quechua word that means “bird”. At the end of the afternoon we visit the Plaza de Armas to try Tejas, a typical dessert of this part of the country.

At the appropriate time, your guide will help you transfer to the bus station for the 2 hours trip to Nazca, or for the slightly longer trip to Lima.

NOTE:

VISITORS WHO ARE RUSHED FOR TIME SHOULD CONSIDERE TAKING A TOUR OF THE NAZCA LINES THAT LEAVES FROM THE CITY OF ICA SAVING LOTS OF TIME FOR THEIR TRIP IN CASE THEY HAVE TO GO BACK TO LIMA CITY.

ASK OUR EXPERTS FOR ADVICE

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DAY 04 NAZCA - LIMA OR AREQUIPA

Breakfast

Nazca would not make most Peru vacation itineraries if it were not for the mysterious Nazca Lines, which were declared an “Archeological World Heritage Site” by UNESCO (1994). It is highly likely that you have seen aerial pictures of the Lines of Nazca, either on television or in a magazine, however, these images do not do the lines justice, and the only way to truly experience them is to take a sightseeing flight over the area. Culturandes Adventure Travel will make the reservation for you with the best Nazca operator, but payment for the flight is to be made locally with the operator, solely for the possible cancellations that are necessary owing to the weather.

At the designated time, our staff will pick you up from your hotel for transfer to the local airport of Nazca, located just 4 kilometers away from downtown. Upon your arrival at the airport, our staff will show you a a documentary about The Nazca Lines, Nazca culture as well as the figures you will see from the air. For this aerial tour, you will board a small single-engine aircraft in which each person will have a window seat. After the video, our English speaking pilot will proceed to give you a briefing about this air tour and 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. In a matter of just 2 minutes you will be flying over the Nazca Lines zone. Among the figures you will see are the whale, the wing, the condor, birds, animals, the lizard, the tree, the hands, the spiral, the spider, the flower, the dog, the monkey, the astronaut and the triangle among many, many others. The flight over the Nazca lines will last about 30-45 minutes. If you are prone to motion sickness be sure to take medication as the plane is small and the elevation is low which leads to more turbulence. The plane also banks continuously in order for both sides of the plane to view the lines properly. Don’t worry there are bags in the back of every seat and the pilots frequently check how you feel during the entire flight.

The flight lasts around 40 minutes, and with transfers just about two hours so there will be plenty of time to take some optional tours in Nazca city. Therefore, we also recommend a visit to the Maria Reiche Museum, the Museo Antonini, the Chauchillas cemetery or the pre-Inca aqueducts.

Early in the afternoon you will be transferred to the bus station for your journey to Lima or to Arequipa.

MAKE IT DIFFERENT (OPTIONAL)

Ask our experts about an extension to Cusco and Machu Picchu, the impressive Colca Canyon or the great Amazon.

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