Departing from Lima, the city of Ica is located in the southern direction of the central coast of Peru at around 4 and a half-hour by car.
Around Ica you may find arid pampas however, in the last decade it has been possible to expand the irrigation of desert areas and gain more agriculture fields. In general, Ica is an oasis in the middle of the desert.
Ica is the only Peruvian city that sits on the plain or coastal plain, some distance from the Andes. Important Peruvian cultures have developed on its territories, such as Paracas, Nazca, Ica, and Wari; all these are prior to the great Inca culture. A 2 days Nazca and Ballestas island tour will allow you to have a glimpse of Paracas national marine reserve and the mystic Nazca lines.
Ica offers its visitors, historical places, natural areas of great beauty and natural wealth. Like many destinations in Peru, Ica celebrates its traditional days and religious festivities that are popular with locals and attract a good number of tourists. Among the best known we have:
January 23rd: Creation of the town of Nazca
March (2nd week): International Harvest Festival of Ica: Celebration performed for the harvest of grapes. Election and coronation of the queen of the vintage, parade of floats, competitions, fairs, dance, and Afro-Peruvian music, etc.
April (1st week): Holy Week in Ica. The traditional festivity of greater popular fever in Peru. Diverse processions that remember to the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ during 08 days.
April (2nd week): Feast of the Plum of Palpa.
July 16th: Nazca Tourism Week.
July 28 and 29th: Independence Day: Patriotic Anniversary, throughout Peru.
August 28th: September 08: Patronal Feast of the Virgin Guadalupe Nazca – Nazca.
August 15th: Festival of oranges in en Palpa.
September 01st: Festivity of the Virgin of Guadalupe of Nazca.
September 5 to 16th: Festividad del Señor de Luren, patrono de la ciudad de Ica.
Septiembre 08th: Pisco touristic week.
December 08th: Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
December 7th: Anniversary of the Province of Palpa.
The city of Ica
The Cathedral of the city,
Built-in the eighteenth century, like many regional cities in the area, is next to the Plaza de Armas. It is a singular architectural piece, it belongs to the neoclassical style, but inside it, the baroque predominates. Its structure suffered several damages after the 2007 earthquake.
In Ica town, you can visit the Adolfo Bermúdez Jenkins Regional Museum. This is one of the most important local museums. It houses invaluable pieces from the Nazca, Huari, Ica and Inca cultures. Also, it keeps objects from the colonial and republican period, such as canvases, furniture, among others.
It is also worth mentioning the Sanctuary of the Lord of Luren. A temple with neoclassical characteristics, which housed the patron saint of the city and which unfortunately succumbed in 2007, due to the strong earthquake that hit the city.
Outside the Ica town skirts
The Huacachina lagoon is the favorite place for young and mature people because is an oasis used as a spa for many years. The Huacachina Oasis have an entire landscape made up of palm trees, huarangos and dunes surrounding the lagoon. Its waters own healing properties. In addition, People make sand boarding on the dunes, an extreme sport that consists of sliding on the sand in special boards, similar to snowboarding.
The lines and geoglyphs of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana (Nazca) are world heritage since 1994.
This set of large figures extends over the Nazca desert in an area of 350 km2 and only visible from a 12-meter tower.
However, the ideal is to rent a plane as we do during the 2 days Nazca and Ballestas island tour. In the pampa, you can see the different figures whose size can easily exceed 20 meters.
The best-known figures with the spider, the hummingbird, the monkey, among others. German archaeologist María Reiche, after a 50-year investigation, concluded that it is an astronomical calendar.
The Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve (Pisco)
In the Ballestas Islands, you can see a great variety of birds and sea lions. The excursion to this area is through motorboats that depart from El Chaco pier (Pisco). On the other hand, the Paracas National Reserve is a huge area of about 3350 km2, which has great biodiversity. It was declared a National Reserve in 1975, with the purpose of preserving a certain terrestrial and maritime zone, and the species of flora and fauna that it houses. A 2 days Nazca and Ballestas island tour will give cover this route of excursions to this reserve.
Food, drink, and festivities
When talking about Iquique gastronomy it is a sin not to mention the Carapulcra, a stew made of parboiled dry potatoes, pieces of meat, red pepper, garlic, and other spices. It is a strong dish, but very tasty and usually with dried soup (noodles that have been cooked with a dressing based on meat and spices). As for desserts, we can find tiles, sweets filled with pieces of figs, manjarblanco or pecanas, covered with sugar candy. Also, the chapanas made with cassava flour and chancaca (derived from the juice of sugarcane).
Pisco is a brandy obtained through the distillation of grape juice. It was the Spaniards who, in the seventeenth century, introduced the cultivation of grapes in the region, eventually the city would become one of the main producers of grapes and wine in the country, and place of origin of the liquor flag: Pisco, which owes its name to the homonymous city of Pisco.
International Harvest Festival
We have among the main ones the International Harvest Festival of Ica (11 – 16 March), which includes fairs, contests, parades of allegorical cars, music festivals. One of the biggest attractions is “the Pisa de la uva”, to extract the juice from the fruit. Likewise, in the last week of February and the first of March, the Black Summer Festival is held in Chincha, in honor of the Afro-Peruvian culture, through dance competitions and craft fairs. Finally, October 22 and 23 are dedicated to the Lord of Luren. During these dates, the image of the patron goes through the streets of the city in procession, throughout the night, until dawn.
Undoubtedly the Ica region has many varieties of which you can enjoy all year round due to its dry and sunny climate, a region ready to welcome you.