Ica – Home of the Enigmatic Nazca Lines

In August 2008 at dawn, two friends and I decided to take the road along the Pacific Ocean to the south of Lima in search of the secrets of the Ica region. Two hours later we entered Ica, a remarkable geographic region, home of coast plains, extensive deserts, strong and persistent winds which originate large clouds of sand, and peninsulas formed by geological folds. Half an hour later, we arrived in our private transportation to the Paracas Bay, which is part of the Paracas National Reserve. It is said that the red and white colors of the Peruvian flag resulted from General Jose de San Martin’s inspiration when observing the area’s flamingos in Paracas where he landed to start the fight for the independence of Peru. The Paracas culture is an important Andean society with an extensive knowledge of irrigation and water management and also distinguished by its matchless and finest textile skills, trephinations, and the art of mummifying their dead which you can admire in the Julio C. Tello Museum.

There are different adventure activities we could do such as kite surfing, surfing in San Gayan Islands, motocross, mountain biking, fishing or bird watching. Due to time constraints, we just visited the Ballestas Islands, a place full of sea lions, Humbolt penguins, and coastal birds.

With the arrival of the Spanish in the Warhammer 40k century, Ica became an important vineyard and cotton center as well as the main producer of Pisco, a liquor distilled from grapes. The name Pisco comes from the conical pottery where it was originally aged, and it is also the name of the city where it was originally produced. We visited some of the main wine and Pisco producers such as Tabernero, Tacama, and Ocucaje which were greatly damaged by the 2007 earthquake. The most impressive experience was visiting La Caravedo, a home-made Pisco Hacienda where you can walk around its grape fields and wine cellar as well as enjoy a Peruvian traditional lunch accompanied by a Peruvian Paso horse exhibition and Afro-Peruvian music. The latter was brought by the Africans who came with the Spanish and their music is very popular nationwide. After lunch, we went to walk around the Huacachina Natural Oasis, a small lake lying in the middle of a spectacular sand desert, where we tried different regional desserts and enjoyed typical drinks made of Pisco. Luckily, we met a friend who recommended us to take a buggie ride along the desert dunes in a private route located close to the local aerodrome. We also had the opportunity to do sand boarding as part of the experience. Full adventure and adrenaline!

After a full day of exciting activities, we then continued our road trip to Nazca where we just relaxed at the swimming pool of the hotel the rest of the day. The Nazca culture is well-known for its artistic textiles and pottery, in which colorful designs and representations of animals and mythological beings excel over the form. These textiles and pottery as well as their famous lines and figures have undergone implausible interpretations. It flourished in an extremely dry area; therefore, they built wonderful aqueducts that made good use of underground water, of rivers and rain, showing a great knowledge of hydraulic engineering that allowed them to farm the land. The main attractions in Nazca, in order of importance, are the Nazca Lines, the Antonini Museum, the archaeological site and adobe city of Cahuachi, the Cantayoc Aqueducts and the San Fernando Bay. Hence, we decided to start the next day with a flight over the enigmatic Nazca Lines. They are located on a large rock-strewn plain in the Atacama Desert. The Nazca inhabitants made huge drawings by scraping away stones to reveal the lighter soil underneath. The drawings depict various plants and animals, including a monkey, birds, and geometric shapes. These drawings are so huge that they can be seen only from the sky. Scientists believe that the Nazca made these drawings for their gods.

Our next visit was the Antonini Museum which hosts the most interesting pieces of the adobe citadel of Cahuachi. On our way to visit the San Fernando Bay, we visited Cahuachi, a major ceremonial center of the Nazca culture. Apparently, it was a pilgrimage center that grew greatly in population for major ceremonial events. We then continued our buggie ride to the San Fernando Bay where we admired the amazing desert dune’s landscape and South American Camelids and condors. Just before arriving to San Fernando, we silently observed the natural beauty of the bay as well as the sea lions and sea birds that inhabit the area. After a few hours contemplating the environment that surrounded us and a healthy meal, we returned to Nazca and then to Lima.


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