General Data

• Location: The department of Ica is located in the central south coastal part of Peru.

• Area: 21 305 km2

• Capital: Ica (406 masl)

• Altitude: 2 masl (Paracas) Lowest town. 3 796 masl (San Pedro de Huacarpana) highest town.

• Average annual temperature: 20º C (30º C maximum and 8º C minimum).

• Rain is unusual and it only happens during the El Niño phenomenon.

Access Routes

• By land: Lima-Ica (300 km) on the South Pan-American Highway about 4 h drive from Lima.

• By air: There is an air taxi service to Ica operating from Lima. Planes also overfly the Nasca Lines. There are two airfields in the department of Ica: The airfield near Hotel Las Dunas, 5 km from Ica and The María Reiche Neuman Airfield at km 447 of the South Pan-American Highway (Nasca).

Historical Overview

Ica was inhabited by people belonging to the Paracas and Nasca cultures (2 500 BC – 1 400 AD). This stage of history is characterized by the rational use of water and desert land resources. These people excelled for their outstanding skills in the making of pottery, textiles, wood carvings, metal work, jewelry and the fishing of a large number of marine species. Following the domination by Inca Pachacútec in the fifteenth century, some settlements appeared throughout the valley to ensure the tribute of farming products to the imperial capital of the Tahuantinsuyo. On June 17th, 1 563, Don Luis Jerónimo de Cabrera founded the first Spanish settlement and gave it the name of Villa de Valverde de Ica. Some years later in 1 568, and due to the continuous earthquakes, the settlement was moved to a new location and named San Jerónimo de Ica. Finally, after several changes, the settlement was recognized as a city and set on its present location. One of the city’s most important events took place in its Main Square on October 20th, 1 820 when the Mayor of Ica, Juan José Salas, called for liberty and proclaimed Peru’s independence. Today, Ica is a friendly city, starting point for visiting some of the most beautiful beaches in the Peruvian coastline, as well as the celebrated Nasca Lines. Ica has many wine cellars where excellent wine and pisco brandy are produced.

Attractions in the city of Ica

The Cathedral of Ica
Corner of calle Bolívar and calle La Libertad, Main Square. Visits: during Mass hours.

Dating back to the eighteenth century, it originally was part of a Jesuit monumental complex.

Sanctuary of the Lord of Luren
Calle Ayacucho block 10. Visits: during Mass hours.
Characterized by its three porticos with brick archs. Neo-classic style. The Lord of Luren is the city’s patron, and his image is taken out in processions during Easter and the third week of October.

María Reiche Regional Museum
Av. Ayabaca, block 8.
Visits: Monday to Saturday 8:00-18:00, Sun: 9:00-14:00.
Valuable archaeological artifacts from Paracas, Nasca, Wari, Ica and Inca cultures; as well as Colonial and Republican oil paintings and furniture.

Engraved Stones Museum
Calle Bolívar 170, Main Square.
Visits: Monday to Sunday 9:00-13:00 and 16:00-20:00.
Collection of engraved stones depicting millenary human activities.
Collection owner, Dr. Javier Cabrera Darquea, based on the specimens found, holds that Ica was the seat of the first Peruvian culture.

Outskirts of the city

Huacachina Lagoon
Located 5 km southwest of Ica and about 6 minutes drive. Natural tourist attraction famous for the medicinal properties of its waters. Its superb landscape is surrounded by high sandbanks, palm tree groves and age old huarango trees.

Town of Cachiche
Located 4 km south of Ica and about 8 minutes drive. The town is famous for its witches who have healed all types of ailments for centuries. There is even a statue allusive to a with placed on top of a huarango tree trunk at the town’s entrance.

La Achirana del Inca
Located 18 km northeast of the city of Ica and about 15 minutes drive. An irrigation canal built during the times of Inca Pachacútec, more than 500 years ago.

Los Frailes Stone Forest
Located 5 km east of Ica in the district of Parcona and about 8 minutes drive. These stone formations have adopted peculiar shapes due to wind erosion. Worthy of note are a turtle, a monkey head, a chullo (Indian hat), a frog, a mouse and a fish.

Huaca Guadalupe
Located in the district of Salas 1 km from the town of Guadalupe and the South Pan-American Highway at a few minutes drive. Excavations have revealed a series of structures in the form of chambers, ramps and platforms from the Ica and Inca cultures (thirteenth and fifteenth centuries AD) as well as frescoes on adobe walls depicting stylized birds in yellow, red, black and white.

Takaraca
Located at km 306 of the South Pan-American Highway and 15 minutes drive from the city of Ica. The oldest citadel of the Ica Valley was built during the reign of Inca Pachacútec. The city comprises a number of pyramidal huacas.

Bodega Vista Alegre. (Wine Cellar)
3 km northwest of the city of Ica, in the district of La Tinguiña. Visits: Monday to Friday 9:00-14:00. A modern wine and pisco brandy maker. It still shows some vestiges of Colonial times.

Bodega Tacama. (Wine Cellar)
10 km north east of Ica in the district of La Tinguiña. Visits: Monday to Sunday 9:00-15:00. This winery makes world renowned wines and pisco brandy with sophisticated equipment while preserving the old house and stables originally property of the Jesuits.

Bodega Ocucaje. (Wine Cellar)
Av. Principal, 34 km southwest of the city of Ica. Visits: Monday to Friday 9:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00, Saturday 9:00-12:00. The facilities and production of this winery are an example of Ica’s noble and quality wine making traditions.

Elementary Wineries
Visitors can find elementary wineries that preserve the traditional art of wine and pisco brandy making (in the old European style).

Folklore

Dances inherited from the black slaves, Peruvian gait horses, cockfights and traditional medicine, all are distinctive folk expressions of this region.

Handicrafts

Craftsmen manufacture repoussé leather items such as belts, desk objects and furniture. With ashlar stone they make lamps, pictures, ashtrays and decorative items. Forged iron is used in the making of street lamps, gates, lamps and decorative furniture. They also make copper items.

Gastronomy

Despite its nearness, its cuisine is very different from the one in Lima.

• Green Lima beans (type of long bean).
• Morusa (mashed lima beans with roast beef).
• Picante de pallares (spicy casserole based on lima beans, milk, eggs and soft unripened cheese).
• Carapulcra (sun-dried potato casserole style with pork and chicken, panca and mirasol chili, garlic and other species).
•Tejas (traditional dessert made of dried up lemon and raisings stuffed with “manjarblanco” (milk jam) and nuts and covered with caramel and a sugar dressing).
• Cachina (spirit made from fermented grape must).
• Pisco (brandy originated in Peru distilled from the fermented juice of grapes).
• Chapanas (sweets made of cassave meal and brown sugar-loaf).

Festivals

Festival de la Vendimia. (Grape Harvest Festival) (March)

This festivity celebrates the abundance of grape and wine in the Ica region. La Vendimia comprises fairs, contests, float parades, music festivals and feasts featuring the African-Peruvian festejo dance. One of the main attractions is the election and coronation of the Reina de la Vendimia. (The Queen of the Grape Harvest Festival), who accompanied by her court, treads the grapes to extract the fruit’s juice that will become the spirit.

Feast of the Lord of Luren (Octubre)

The origin of the devotion to the Lord of Luren, the patron of the city of Ica, dates back to the year 1 570 when this image got mysteriously lost in the desert, during the journey from Lima to Ica and was found later in an isolated spot named Luren. On the feast’s central day, the image is taken out in procession throughout the city from sunset to dawn of the next day.

Virgen del Carmen de Chincha (December)

The El Carmen Virgin is the most venerated image in Peru after the Lord of Miracles. At the end of this year, this image is worshiped in several localities in Ica, particularly in the zones of El Carmen and El Guayabo, where the largest number of African-American population resides.

The peculiarity is that in Ica, this image is known as La Peoncita for its connection with the teenagers that perform the baile de los negritos and las pallitas to pay homage to the Virgin. .

Services

• Airport: Aeródromo de Ica, Panamericana Sur km 300 ( Subject to the wind conditions )

• Airport: Aeródromo de Nasca, Panamericana Sur km 447.

• Land Transportation

• Health Centers

• Police Stations

• Handicrafts Markets

• Post Offices

Attractions in the city of Pisco

La Compañía Church

One block from Pisco’s Main Square.
Open during Mass hours.
A 1 723 Baroque building with gold leaf altars that houses beautiful oil paintings belonging to the Cusco School.

Paracas National Reserve

Located 250 km south of Lima and about 3 h drive, it spreads across 335 thousand ha. Established to protect and preserve endangered animal species, this is the only protected area in Peru that comprises a marine ecosystem. There are boat excursions from the port of Paracas to the Ballestas Islands where sea lions, Humboldt penguins, flamingoes or pariguanas and seabirds can be closely observed.

El Candelabro

Located 25 km southwest of the city of Pisco and about 13 minutes drive, this more than 120 m long geoglyph is best seen from the sea, and for this reason, it is necessary to take a speedboat departing mainly from Puerto El Chaco (Paracas). El Candelabro, also known as Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) or Tridente, is located northwest of the Bay of Paracas, between the Martín and Talpo beaches.

The Cathedral

25 km southwest of the city of Pisco, opposite El Candelabro and about 25 minutes drive. Located between Yumaque and Supay beaches, this amazing and extraordinary rock formation results from water and wind erosion. Inside one can find the “chingungo” or sea cat, an endangered species, and some marine birds.

Julio C. Tello Site Museum

Carretera a Pisco – Puerto San Martin km 27, Pisco. Visits: Monday Sunday 9:00-15:00. Located 15 minutes drive from Pisco, next to the Interpretation Center for the Paracas National Reserve. The exhibit includes re-creations of everyday life in ancient Paracas, as well as collections of ceramics and textiles.

Attractions in the city of Nazca

The Nasca Lines

Located in the San José Pampas 25 km from Nasca and about 20 minutes drive (at km 420 of the South Pan-American Highway). Ancient dwellers from the Nasca culture have left a valuable archaeological legacy consisting in a huge network of lines and drawings depicting animals and plants over an area of approximately 350 km2 spreading between km 419 to km 465 of the South Pan-American Highway. Discovered in 1 927 by Toribio Mejía Xesspe, they have been studied by Paul Kosok, Hans Horkheirmer and, in particular, María Reiche, a German scientist who lived in the area for more than 50 years, studying and investigating their origin. A flight over the Nasca Lines is an unforgettable experience. There is also a 12 m high watchtower from where La Mano (The Hand) and El Árbol (The Tree) figures can be admired.

Paredones

Located 2 km from Nasca at km 1 of the Nasca Puquio Highway and about 4 minutes drive, this Inca administrative center comprises numerous rooms, terraces, patios and other adobe constructions erected upon stone foundations of Nasca-culture buildings.

El Telar de Cantalloc. (Cantalloc Loom)

A large scale geoglyph located 3 km from Nasca and about 8 minutes drive. Known as Complejo Textil (Textile Complex) for its depiction of weaving instruments such as a needle and several spirals probably representing yarn skeins.

The Aqueducts

They belong to the Nasca culture (550 AD) and are located in the Nasca, Taruga and Las Trancas valleys. These are really trickle galleries with stone walls and flat rock or huarango tree beams which, in some cases, run for several kilometers underground at a depth of 12 m.

Lines and Figures of Palpa

Located at km 395 of the South Pan-American Highway and about 1 h and 15 minutes drive, these lines and figures can be found in several areas of Palpa such as Sacramento, Pinchango and Llipata. They are large geometrical drawings depicting animals and plants.

Attractions in the city of Chincha

Located at km 202 of the South Pan-American Highway, about 2 ½ h drive from Lima. In this pre-Inca site, the numerous huacas reveal the area was a center of great activity, in particular Huaca La Centinela, a large scale construction. Chincha is also the cradle of a culture developed by the descendants of the slaves that worked in the cotton fields.

Casa Hacienda San José

Hacienda San José s/n. Located 15 km southeast of Chincha in the district of El Carmen. Ancient country hacienda, a parador that keeps within its walls the history of Dominicans and Jesuits, Spanish noblemen, potential filibusters and black slaves alike. Built in the late seventeenth century, it features a chapel and and altar of pure Baroque style, beautiful archways and ample patios displaying old yokes, plows and cart wheels. One of the main attractions is an underground gallery along which blindfolded slaves where brought so they could not escape.

Huaca La Centinela

Located northwest of Tambo de Mora, 8 km off the South Pan-American Highway and about 8 minutes drive along a dirt road. Built by the old Chinchas during the so-called Late Intermediate period (1 200 AD-1 450 AD). Later the site sustained some form and functional changes resulting form the introduction of elements belonging to the Inca architecture.

Tambo Colorado Archaeological Remains

An Inca urban and administrative center located in the Valley of Pisco, near km 45 of Los Libertadores Highway and about 30 minutes drive. Built during the times of Inca Pachacútec, this is the best preserved Inca monument on the coast of Peru. It also provided lodging to soldiers and dignataries. The name Tambo Colorado comes from the Quechua word Tampu (resting place) and the Spanish word colorado (red) which is the color of its walls.