Ica, Nazca, and Paracas Travel Guide: Discover Peru’s Sun-Kissed Desert Oases

Ica Nazca and Paracas Travel Guide

Visit Peru’s GOLDEN OASES, A city drenched in eternal sunshine that offers travelers refuge from the barren desert, Ica is a magical oasis to explore during a luxury trip to Peru. Enjoy excellent gastronomy and unique landscapes, and venture beyond the golden dunes of Ica to learn about Peru’s most wondrous coastal town, Paracas.

If your luxury trip to Peru takes you to the Pacific-lined desert, don’t miss the chance to indulge in the pleasures of Ica, Nazca, and Paracas.

1. Best Time to Visit

Best time to Visit

With the golden sun shining across this tropical desert all year long, Ica, Nazca, and Paracas are ideal destinations anytime.

Travelers who want to experience Ica, Nazca, and Paracas at their warmest should plan a trip to Peru between December to March. However, if you want to enjoy the relief of a cool breeze, visit from September to November in the peaceful off-season.

2. Things to See and Do

Visit the Huacachina Lagoon Oasis

Visit the Huacachina Lagoon Oasis

If you were wandering under the hot Peruvian sun, the glittering desert oasis of Huacachina may seem like a mirage. However this desert jewel is a very real paradise to explore during your trip! Built around a small lagoon, this small paradise is a sweet relief from the sun-baked heat in the surrounding sand dunes. Legends tell the tale of the lagoon being home to a mythical mermaid who you can try to spot while swimming or kayaking across the water!

Get Adventurous in Ica

Get Adventurous in Ica

Venture outside of Huacachina and take on the elements with a dune buggy excursion and an afternoon of sandboarding for the ultimate thrill! Or, enjoy a slower-paced horseback desert tour for a more peaceful afternoon. Staying overnight in the desert will also give travelers the opportunity to stargaze in an unparalleled environment. Clear night skies make the distant galaxies visible and will leave you speechless!

Explore the Paracas National Reserve

Explore the Paracas National Reserve

The Paracas National Reserve is a stunning expanse of tropical desert and piercing blue coastal waters. Peru developed the UNESCO-recognized reserve to protect a fragile marine ecosystem as well as the cultural relics of the Paracas indigenous group. With close to 100 archaeological sites strung between the desert and the sea, stunning beaches, steep sand dunes, and dozens of rare marine species and birds, the Paracas National Reserve is the perfect destination for nature lovers and curious travelers.

Learn About the Most Unique Wildlife in Peru

Learn About The Most Unique Wildlife In Peru

Often compared to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Paracas is home to a unique destination called the Ballestas Islands. Travelers can visit these rocky islands with an exciting boat tour, learning about rare species up close and personal! The Ballestas Islands are home to sea lions, fur seals, and several varieties of birds including the Humboldt penguin. Getting an opportunity to see these animals interact in their natural habitat is one of the best ecotourism opportunities in all of Peru. Plus, while you are out at sea, you will be able to see El Candelabro, a large-scale geoglyph with a mysterious history.

Fly Over the Nazca Lines

Fly Over The Nazca Lines

This ancient collection of enormous geoglyphs etched into the desert plain is one of the most mysterious sites in Peru. Historians are not certain what their purpose or meaning are, but we do know they are over two millennia old! Touring the Nazca lines on foot will give you an idea of their scale, but you won’t be able to make out the specific outlines and shapes. To truly appreciate the artistry of this alluring artifact, a Nazca Lines tour is best experienced from above.

Museo Regional de Ica

Delve into the rich history of the Ica region at the Museo Regional de Ica. This museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the Paracas, Nazca, and Inca cultures, including mummies, textiles, and ceramics. The exhibits offer a fascinating glimpse into the ancient civilizations that once thrived in this region, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

Bodegas de Pisco y Vino (Tacama y Viñas Queirolo)

Bodegas de Pisco y Vino

Visit the historic bodegas of Ica, including Tacama and Viñas Queirolo, to learn about the production of Peru’s famous pisco and wines. Enjoy guided tours of the vineyards and distilleries, and indulge in tastings of their finest products. These picturesque estates also offer beautiful landscapes and excellent dining options, providing a comprehensive and delightful experience.

3. Best Hotels in Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

Best Hotels in Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

Paracas Luxury Collection: Discover the tropical side of this desert region when you stay at the Paracas Luxury Collection Resort, an upscale, ocean-side hotel that turns this port town into your backyard. Jungle views or oceanfront suites are available, and they even offer a suite with your very own private pool that overlooks the Pacific.

Aranwa Paracas Spa & Resort: To enjoy a deeply rejuvenating wellness retreat in Peru, stay at the Aranwa Spa and Resort in Paracas, where modern luxury and comfort come to fruition. Overlooking the waters of the Paracas Bay, the Aranwa campus offers breathtaking scenery and five-star accommodations for travelers of every type! Don’t miss out on their exclusive Pisco Bar, one of the delicious highlights of this indulgent resort.

DoubleTree Resort Paracas: For a space that incorporates desert landscapes into the oceanside scenery, stay in the DoubleTree Resort Paracas, where guests can soak up the sun poolside all day long. This hotel is located just five minutes from the town center, so it’s a perfect location for anyone who wants easy access to the adventures of Paracas. Plus, the on-site amenities offer a full luxury service, with a spa and multiple dining options.

La Hacienda Bahia Paracas: Escape to the coastal manor of La Hacienda Bahia Paracas, a tranquil and luxurious destination that offers comfort, class, and indulgence to travelers who seek an unforgettable Peruvian vacation. This beachside estate is perfect if you want easy access to adventure right on the Paracas Bay, or hope to relax with services at their Ocean Spa.

Hotel Viñas Queirolo (Ica): Nestled amidst lush vineyards, Hotel Viñas Queirolo offers a unique and luxurious stay in Ica. This charming hotel combines elegance with comfort, featuring beautifully designed rooms, a stunning pool area, and exquisite dining options. Guests can enjoy wine tastings and tours of the surrounding vineyards, making it a perfect retreat for wine enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful getaway.

4. Ica, Nazca, and Paracas’s Best Restaurants

 

Ica Nazca and Paracas's Best Restaurants

Peru’s coastal desert has a unique selection of dishes, incorporating fresh seafood into rich stews with Creole flavor and flair. Centuries of cooking and combining imported spices with local ingredients have made the food in Ica, Nazca & Paracas a one-of-a-kind experience. Local wines and Peru’s national liquor, Pisco, make some amazing drinks you can pair with every dish!

Tambo de Tacama – Ica: Learn about Peru’s most delicious wines at Tambo de Tacama which pairs local wines with regional cuisine. As the seasons shift and new ingredients become available, the menu changes and adapts to provide you with the most delicious experience. Located on a vineyard from 1540, this restaurant and wine-tasting experience is one of the most noteworthy in Ica.

8 Cepas: Sip on an authentic Pisco Sour while tasting the freshest seafood dishes at 8 Cepas, a beloved restaurant in Ica. This outdoor space is a delightful escape for foodies to enjoy regional cuisine paired with the in-house sommeliers. You can sip on Peruvian wines or taste the unique selection of Pisco available here for an ultra-local experience!

El Cordón y la Rosa: Enjoy a meal expertly curated by El Cordón y la Rosa, whose menu offers a taste of the history of Ica. Dining here feels like a welcoming family dinner, and although the menu is a la carte, the experience here is much more fun when everyone shares! Here the expertise is seafood, but there is plenty of diversity, from meat dishes to criolla recipes and rich pasta specialties.

La Olla de Juanita: If you’re in need of a meal you know was made with love, visit La Olla de Juanita, a family-owned criolla restaurant that has delivered delicious food and Pisco for nearly three decades. Here, the mission is to preserve the culinary expressions of Peru and celebrate authentic flavors.

Restaurante Ballestas – Paracas: Nestled within the Paracas Luxury Collection Resort, Restaurante Ballestas offers a fine dining experience with a focus on fresh seafood and traditional Peruvian cuisine. The elegant ambiance and stunning ocean views make it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a special celebration.

La Chalana – Paracas: Located in the Aranwa Paracas Spa & Resort, La Chalana serves up delectable seafood dishes in a relaxed, beachside setting. The menu features a variety of ceviches, grilled fish, and other coastal delicacies, all prepared with the freshest ingredients. Enjoy your meal with a refreshing cocktail as you take in the beautiful views of Paracas Bay.

5. Bars & Cafés Worth Visiting in Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

Bars_ Cafés Worth Visiting in Ica Paracas and Nazca

La Trastienda del Fundo: A space that breaks the routine, surrounds you with a great vibe, helps you disconnect from routine, and offers a varied proposal of spirits, cocktails, and cuisine with a live DJ. This bar is perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring, with a lively atmosphere and delicious drinks.

Fada Terraza & Cocktails: Fada is an Irish bar that claims not to distinguish between day and night. Enjoy the beats of the night with a unique view from their large terrace while accompanying the mood with modern finger food and a specialty cocktail menu. The ambiance and excellent service make it a great spot for evening relaxation.

Harvest Coffeehouse: Specializing in coffee, this friendly coffeehouse welcomes you for a tasty breakfast hot shot of espresso. Their brew bar offers cold brews to go originating from Santa Teresa, Cusco, Huaranchal, and La Libertad. Don’t miss out on their artisanal desserts and sandwiches. It’s a perfect stop for coffee enthusiasts and anyone in need of a caffeine boost.

Lora Café: A traditional Peruvian coffee shop that offers hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, sweet and savory cakes, as well as donuts in a cozy environment. It’s an ideal place for a quick snack or a relaxing break during your sightseeing adventures.

6. Where to Buy Souvenirs in Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

Where to Buy Souvenirs in Ica Nazca and Paracas

Helena: Tejas are a traditional sweet that has been made for over a hundred years in this part of southern Peru. Elena Soler is the creator of the chocoteja. These delightful sweets come in all different kinds: bathed in fondant or chocolate; with classic fillings such as pecans, dulce de leche caramel, or prunes; as well as in surprising new versions filled with raspberry, candied orange peel, or raisins soaked in pisco; or in exotic options filled with guava, passionfruit, or goldenberry.

Tacama: Inside Tambo de Tacama, you will find a small shop with souvenirs to commemorate your visit to the vineyard and winery. Don’t miss your chance to take home your favorite red, white, rosé, or sparkling wines, as well as Peru’s most excellent Piscos.

7. Festivals and Celebrations in Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

Festivals and Celebrations in Paracas

Festival Internacional de la Vendimia de Ica: Held in March, this festival celebrates the grape harvest with a week of festivities including parades, wine tastings, music, dance, and traditional Peruvian food. It’s a vibrant celebration of Ica’s winemaking heritage and a perfect time to experience the local culture and hospitality.

8. How to Get to Ica, Nazca, and Paracas

How to Get to Paracas

Ica, Nazca, and Paracas are accessible by road from Lima, with several bus companies offering comfortable and regular services. The journey from Lima to Ica takes about 4-5 hours by bus or car. If you’re heading directly to Nazca, the trip takes around 6-7 hours from Lima. Alternatively, you can take a short flight from Lima to Pisco Airport, which is about an hour’s drive from Paracas. Private transfers and car rentals are also available for those who prefer a more personalized travel experience.

Ica, Nazca, and Paracas offer a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making them an essential part of any luxury trip to Peru. From the enigmatic Nazca Lines and the lush oasis of Huacachina to the diverse wildlife of the Ballestas Islands and the rich winemaking traditions of Ica, this region promises an unforgettable journey. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deep dive into Peru’s fascinating heritage, Ica, Nazca & Paracas have something special for every traveler.

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