Ica: the perfect luxury travel destination

Terra Explorer
October 6, 2021

At Terra Explorer, we know this: when people think of Peru, they often picture mountains blanketed by the Amazon rainforest. But the truth is all the coastline is one giant desert—although not an uninviting one. Sited among dunes and vast dry plains of Ica, there are a bunch of attractions worth visiting, each a short drive from the other. The perfect cluster of towns and sights (one of them: an aerial sight) to add to your luxury vacations—a quick escapade from the Machu-Picchu-centric itinerary. 

lineas nazca

The first stop, an archeological tour de force: the Nazca Lines. Straddling along the Panamericana (the equivalent of the Pacific Coast Highway), there is a myriad of gigantic geoglyphs which were built in the manner of canals. The only way to appreciate these marvels is by hopping into a light aircraft. Veteran pilots maneuver over the lines at all times so the curious (like us) can take a good look at the enormous figures and animals sketched by one ancient civilization centuries ago.

For the adrenaline-seekers, there is an unmatched locale: towering dunes that both drivers and sand-boarders adore. Even the famed Dakar Rally takes place in this desert. The jumpy ride through the sands is undeniably exhilarating. Whether you are an adventure tourism aficionado or not, it is a source of memories filled with the right mix of thrill, laughter, and screaming. 

At dusk, the Paracas Desert (home to the dunes we’re talking about) does not lag on the aesthetics department: a distinctively orange sunset draws sharp shadows and silhouettes upon the ocean of sand mounts. A sight to surfeit any trained, or untrained, eye. What’s that, you say? It would be the perfect site for a picnic? Indeed. We usually set one at sunset: a time to unwind, assuage the hunger, and fully take in the removed environs.

Less-than-a-couple driving hours away, there is Paracas, a fisherman town from which a yacht (part of our exclusive travel services) departs towards the Ballesta Islands. They are the equivalent of a bustling metropolis for the animal kingdom. An almost infinite population of sea lions, penguins and other sea birds inhabit the islands (so filled with life the Government had to declare it a National Reserve, one sought-out destination for bird watching in Peru). So if you ever wanted to see these stunners up close within the realms of nature —instead of the sterile ambiance of a zoo— this is your call. 

The virgin coastline (just minutes away from the village) is a collection of high cliffs and precipices, which seize upon the majestic views of the Pacific, the soundtrack, crashing waves in the distance. After lunch—much appreciated delicious seafood galore, if you were wondering—an afternoon passeggiata on foot or bike (you get to choose which one, this is one of the perks of having a tailor-made itinerary) along the elevated cliffs is pure magic. Who doesn’t crave some beach sounds without the commotion of an actual beach? 

If you’re the type of person with architectural or archeological proclivities, then, head to Julio C. Tello Museum. This minimalistic masterpiece in the middle of the desert —which happens to be along the chosen trail for the after-lunch stroll— shelters the remains of the Paracas Civilization (these ancient peoples were the ones with the elongated skulls, subject to a myriad of alien-related conspiracy theories). 

But the museum building—the building, Jesus!—is a highlight in itself. It was designed by famed architects Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse. They are the ones behind the well-appointed maroon walls of the geometric facade which fuse with, and protrude from, the reddish sands. No surprise to find out, then, it got more than a handful of architectural awards. Definitely list this on your culture trip experiences.

What else is there to do? Well, in the 1800s when the Italian migration to Perú was in full force, Santiago Queirolo settled on the coast after a long trip from Genoa. Generations after, their grandsons decided to turn their country mansion within the vineyard (which has a couple of hundred years of history on its back) into a striking hotel. 

Besides the endless views of grape fields, the reason to visit Queirolo’s estate is to taste the centuries-old Pisco—a brandy-like liquor made of grapes, as of today, Peru’s national spirit and a source of pride for the locals. Wine and Pisco tasting accompanied by delicious dishes, yum, it has to be part of your culinary experiences in Peru.

The perfect place to spend the night is at Marriott’s Paracas: a paradisiacal resort overlooking the Pacific—opt for a room with a terrace, for obvious reasons. In addition to its well-paired pools and palm trees, it is close to all things mentioned above, so if you’re not into too-long unnecessary drives, look no further. 

Well, this is a sneak peek of what lies beyond in Ica. It is legitimately a destination worth stopping by. Contact us to make the most of it. We’re the experts when it comes to luxury getaway vacations in Peru.

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