Enjoy this amazing wine & pisco tasting tours in Ica, a place with most celebrated pisco places around the globe, where you’ll enjoy glass after glass of perfectly balanced acholados, and quebrantas. And reds, whites, and rosés.
Capital of the department and surrounded by sand dunes, Ica is a surprisingly large and bustling colonial town, given the scorching desert sun its inhabitants have to contend with. Like Pisco, most of the principal attractions are located beyond the city. Ica is known primarily for its bodegas, wineries that produce a range of wines and pisco, the white-grape brandy that is the essential ingredient in the national drink, the ubiquitous pisco sour (served as a welcome drink at bars, hotels, and restaurants throughout Peru). Also welcome to travelers in the unrelentingly dry, sandy pampas of the department is the Huacachina Lagoon, a pretty and unexpected oasis amid palm trees and dunes on the outskirts of Ica. In Ica proper is a small collection of interesting colonial mansions and churches, as well as the surprisingly excellent Museo Regional, with some splendid exhibits on the area’s rich archaeological finds.
The Paracas Bay and Peninsula, along with the small Ballestas Islands, compose the Paracas National Reserve, a place of gorgeous unpopulated beaches, strange desert vistas, and spectacular wildlife. Established in 1975, Paracas is the primary marine conservation center in Peru. The 14,504-sq.-km (5,600-sq.-mile) reserve, which can be visited year-round, is about two-thirds ocean, so don’t come expecting to see a zoolike array of plants and animals at every turn, except on the Ballestas, where several thousand sea lions, in addition to many other species, lie about in plain view.
The primary focus of a visit to the reserve is a boat tour of the Ballestas (pronounced “Bah-yes-tahs”) Islands. Although the islands can’t possibly live up to locals’ touting of them as the “Peruvian Galápagos,” the Ballestas do afford tantalizing close-up views (without allowing visitors on the islands) of the habitat’s rich roster of protected species, including huge colonies of barking sea lions, endangered turtles and Humboldt penguins, red boobies, pelicans, turkey vultures, and red-footed cormorants. During the summer months (Jan-Mar), baby sea lions are born, and the community becomes even more populous and noisy. The wall-like, cantilevered islands are literally covered with birds; 110 migratory and resident seabirds have been documented, and the bay is a stopover point in the Alaska-Patagonia migration route. Packs of dolphins are occasionally seen slicing through the water; less frequently, humpback whales and soaring Andean condors can also be glimpsed.
Nasca (also spelled Nazca) would just be a dusty little desert town of little interest were it not for the strange presence of massive, mysterious drawings, the famous Nasca Lines – etched into the sands of the pampas more than a millennium ago. Ancient peoples created a vast tapestry of “geoglyphs” -trapezoids and triangles, 70-odd animal and plant figures, and more than 10,000 lines that have baffled observers for decades. They are so large, with some figures reaching dimensions of 300m (1,000 ft.), that they can be appreciated only from the air. Over the years, theorists have posited that they were signs from the gods, agricultural and astronomical calendars, or even extraterrestrial airports. Some believe that the drawers of the lines must themselves have had the ability to fly, perhaps in hot-air balloons, over the designs below. The wildest theories, today discredited by all but fringe-dwelling true believers, prompted the old book and movie The Chariots of the Gods.
|Area (km2)||21.327,83 km²|