Travel Guide : Sand, Sea, Oases and Valleys
In this page you will find useful information about Ica: General information, Location, History, Main attractions and Typical dishes.
- Location: Central Coast
- Area: 21 305 km2
- Capital: Ica (406 masl)
-Minimum: 2 masl (Paracas)
-Maximum: 3796 masl (San Pedro de Huacarpana)
325 Km (202 miles) from Lima
75 Km (46.6 miles) from Paracas
135 Km (84 miles) from Nazca
701 Km (435.7 miles) from Arequipa
- Population: 267,540 inhabitants
Ica is known as an area of sand, sea, oases and valleys, the cradle of Peru s Creole culture, saints and medicine men, where the best pisco brandy is distilled and where religious fervor is strong in the worship of the Señor de Luren or the Yauca shrine. The sandy wastes of this area gave rise to major pre-Colombian civilizations, leaving traces that have survived the ravages of time and wind erosion.
The road to Ica provides the traveler with a variety of attractions. First stop along the way is Chincha, a balmy valley that combines festivals and tradition and which is the heart of a culture forged by the descendants of African slaves brought to work the cotton plantations. A few kilometers further on lies the Paracas National Reserve, the only protected area in Peru that includes a marine eco-system. From the pier at Paracas one can take boatrides out to the Ballestas islands, where one can spot sea lions, Humboldt penguins, flamingos and sea birds.
South of the city of Ica lies the Huacachina Oasis, and a few kilometers ahead, the Nazca Lines, an extraordinary legacy bequeathed by the ancient people of the Nazca culture. The Lines, an enormous network of lines and drawings of plants and animals that cover an area of some 350 square km, provide an unforgettable experience for those who fly over them.
Ica celebrates three major events: the Wine Festival (Ica is home to many vineyards which produce excellent wines and pisco) and the festivals of the Señor de Luren and the Virgen del Carmen of Chincha. This is a good time to try typical Ica dishes and sweets, as well as to visit the town of Cachiche, famous for its folk healers who are said to be able to cure all kinds of ills.
The department of Ica is located in south Coast of Peru, south east of Lima. It limits to the north with Lima, to the south with Arequipa, to the east with Huancavelica and Ayacucho, and to the west with the Pacific Ocean. The weather is warm and dry all year round, with a maximum of 30ºC (86ºF), and a minimum of 8ºC (32ºF).
The department has an extension of 21,251 km² (8,200 sq ml) and a population of almost 550 thousand people.
The capital is Ica, surrounded by beautiful valleys, famous for their vineyards and the excellent quality of wine production. Other important cities are Chincha, Pisco, Nazca, and Palpa.
The Paracas culture developed from the seventh through the second century BC. It is distinguished by its matchless textile skills, Trephinations, and the art of mummifying their dead.
The Nazca culture, on the contrary, well-known for its artistic pottery, in which colorful designs and representations excel over the form, the same as their famous lines and figures that have undergone implausible interpretations. This culture expanded from the second century BC through the seventh century AD. They have left us their wonderful aqueducts that made good use of underground water, of rivers and rain, showing a great knowledge of hydraulic engineering.
In the fifteenth century, during the Inca empire, Pachacutec incorporated the territories of Ica, Nazca and the Chincha valley.
Years later, in 1563, with the arrival of the Spanish, Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera founded the Villa de Valverde del Valle de Ica. Since then, the area became an important vineyard and cotton center.
During the independence war, General José de San Martín landed in Paracas and fixed his headquarters in Pisco, to start the fight for the independence of Peru.
Santuario del Señor de Luren . A sanctuary for the patron of the city whose venerated image is taken out in procession during Holy Week and the third week of October.
Laguna de Huacachina . Only 5 km (3 ml) from the center of the city, it is a perfect oasis surrounded by dunes and palms in a unique landscape.
Bodegas Vista Alegre . Founded in 1857 by the Picasso family, it is one of the biggest wine cellars of the country, famous for its wine and pure Ica pisco production.
Hacienda Vitivinícola Tacama . Wine production hacienda acknowledged internationally.
Regional Ica Museum . It houses a great collection of fossils, mummies, Paracas mantles, Nazca ceramics, and Colonial and Republican art pieces.
Museo Cabrera . This museum holds a valuable series of engraved stones depicting primitive life scenes. This collection makes a good summary of the origin of the Peruvian civilization before the Inca empire.
Iglesia de La Merced is located in the main square . It is built in typical Colonial architecture, and has a gorgeous carved altar decorated in gold leaf.
Casonas or Colonial Mansions . Among the most beautiful are, the Marqués de Torre in the Plaza de Armas and Casa Mendiola in Bolívar street.
La Achirana del Inca . It is a 500 years old irrigation channel. Legend says that Inca Pachacutec ordered to built it as a proof of love to a young girl of the city.
Cachiche . This is an old town of sorcerers and curanderos (healers), which is part of the Ica folklore. It is surrounded by huarango trees and date palms, giving a mysterious atmosphere to the place.
Los Frailes Stone Forest . At 5 km (3 ml) from the city, the strange forms of the stones in Los Frailes are the result of the erosion produced by the presence of permanent winds in this part of the country.
Nazca Lines . At 145 km (90 ml) south of Ica, it is an area of approximately 500 km (310 ml) of Pampa, where the mysterious lines were discovered in 1927. The real dimension of these lines can be fully appreciated by air. They represent diverse animal figures, as a spider, a monkey, a dog, a lizard, a humming bird, and a condor. The dimensions of these figures vary from 15 to 300 mt each (50 to 1,000 ft.) high.
Paracas National Reserve . Located in the province of Pisco, this reserve covers 335,000 hectares with the objective of housing and caring for several endangered species. Among these species, the sea lion, sea cat, Humbolt penguin, parihuanas or flamingos, turtles and an thousands of marine birds, as well as fish and dolphins. To cross to the Ballestas islands, a rocky formation containing a very important marine fauna, visitors start off at the beautiful Paracas beach resort.
El Candelabro . Gigantic chandelier in bas relief located at the north of Paracas. It has an extension of 128 mt (420 ft) long, and 74 mt (240 ft) wide.
Julio C. Tello Museum . At 5 km (3 ml) from Paracas beach, it houses ceramics and textiles depicting daily life scenes, pieces that show the evolution of the Paracas culture. At a short distance, the necropolis of the Cabezas Largas is found.
Tambo Colorado Fortress . It is an Inca architectural complex, presumably used as a control station of the Andean migration towards this area.
Chauchilla Cemetery . At 28 km (17 ml) from Nazca, it contains graves opened by huaqueros (tomb-robbers), showing skeletons, skulls and other human remains.
Cahuachi . It is an archaeological area near Nazca. It is formed by several pyramids built with mud walls and separated by open spaces or plazas. It was a ceremonial center.
Chincha . A province located at one hour from Ica. It dates from pre-Inca time and the numerous existing huacas indicate it was a very active center location. Chincha also has a distinct black culture that emerged from the descendants of the cotton plantations slaves.
Casa Hacienda San José . It was built by the Jesuits at the end of the seventeenth century. The chapel has a typical Churrigueresque style altar.
Ica is also known by its varied and exquisite cuisine. To Chincha belong dishes, such as, carapulcra (dried potatoes, peanuts and pork meat), and sopa seca or dry soup, a variation of the former dish.
From Ica come the beans and chupe de pallares verdes, based on a milk soup, fish, Chinese shrimp, and, of course, green beans. Among the most known desserts and sweets are, the tejas, frijol colado, alcayote.
Visitors should try the different varieties of wine and pisco (white grape brandy) and during the due season, cachina.
We do have the lowest prices. We will meet or beat any internet published rates from companies outside Peru for all package tours. All HOTELS and TOURS are based on US standards.