The well-defined colonial style of Lima and the refined Museo Larco provide you with a good introduction to Peru. Later, the legendary Panamericana highway is our way down the Pacific coast, with impressive sand dunes hugging the highway at times. Our next stop: the Ballestas Islands, oftentimes referred to as “the Peruvian Galapagos”. This marine sanctuary, with an abundance of wildlife and surprising scenic beauty, may very well leave you speechless! The tour continues on with a visit to the Huacachina Oasis, a Pisco tasting (the Peruvian national drink), and a chance to learn a bit more about the Paracas culture at the Ica Regional Museum. At day’s end, it’s time to relax and enjoy the lagoon, the truly romantic centrepiece of the oasis! Majestic, mysterious, and mesmerizing, the Nazca Lines are the next stop, and the highlight of this tour! These spectacular geoglyphs, more or less saved and promoted by Maria Reiche, are known the world over, and one archaeological site that shouldn’t be missed.
DAY 1.Lima, the City of Kings
The day begins with an overview of Plaza San Martin and the main square. It is here that we will visit the Cathedral, and the religious art museum it houses. We then continue on to the Convent and Church of San Francisco: a monumental complex of Colonial art. As we walk, our guide will explain the history of nearby buildings, the Government Palace, and City Hall. The tour also includes a view of the Huaca Pucllana, a site built in the 4th century AD and considered holy by the Incas.
The modern side of Lima is next, starting with San Isidro and Parque El Olivar (El Olivar Park), home to olive trees that were brought from Spain in the 15th century. Next, we head to a site held near and dear by Limeños, Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), with a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean.
We finish the morning half of our tour at Museo Larco. New galleries in the museum house the finest and most comprehensive Peruvian, pre-Columbian, gold and silver collection in the world, not to mention an erotic pottery collection. Also of note, the museum is built atop a 7th century, pre-Columbian building.
Following lunch, we depart for Paracas (a 3-hour trip, more or less). En route, we enjoy stunning views as we travel south on the legendary Carretera Panamericana (the Panamericana Highway). The Panamericana Highway, one of the few north-south roadways in Peru, is an eye-catching road that has lunar-like landscapes of desert pampas and high sand dunes on the left, interspersed with fertile valleys, and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop on the right. The views are captivating!
Upon arrival, we transfer to the hotel.
Day 2. Ballestas Islands, Reserva Nacional de Paracas – Huacachina Oasis
Our boat excursion to the Ballestas Islands provides us with breathtaking scenery, oh-so-vivid colours, and a sea that is a heavenly blue. In all likelihood, we will encounter sea lions, boobies, pelicans, and penguins, as well as various sea birds. The somewhat mysterious geoglyph, the Candelabro, is visible en route to the islands – a prehistoric geoglyph carved in the sand on the hillside of the Paracas Peninsula.
Our day continues with a visit to the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. Located just beyond Paracas, we will see La “Catedral”, La Playa Roja, and various fossils. La Catedral, a rock formation caused by wind and sea erosion, has a concave shape and is reminiscent of the domes of cathedrals. La Playa Roja is laden with red-coloured rocks, thus giving it its name, the Red Beach. The fossil area is located near the entrance to the reserve; there you can observe the small fossils of mollusks in excellent condition, yet millions of years old.
After experiencing the natural jewels of Paracas, we are on our way to the Huacachina.
In a ride lasting just under one hour, we arrive in Ica where we enjoy lunch – followed by a Pisco tasting. Afterward, a local guide will show us the traditional Pisco-making process in “bodega”. Then it’s time to pay a visit to the Ica Regional Museum where we will view interesting artefacts of the pre-Inca Paracas culture. Next, we travel to the Huacachina Oasis and our hotel. It’s now time to relax and enjoy a free night in this very romantic spot. You can enjoy a Pisco Sour and explore the lagoon before dinner. For those who want still more adventure, dune buggies await you. Sand boarding, too, is at its best at Huacachina and is one of the ultimate sports in Peru. We can arrange these services for you; just let us know.
Overnight at Huacachina.
Day 3. The mysterious Nazca Lines
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we travel to Nazca (approximately two hours in length) to appreciate the mysterious Nazca Lines. After a lecture at the archaeological Museo Antonini – where an original, pre-Columbian aqueduct runs through the garden out back, and reproductions of burials and a scale model of the Lines are on view – we head to a viewing platform to observe a portion of the Lines: a lizard, a tree, and hands.
The other option is to take a flight in a small airplane over the Nazca Lines (about 30 minutes in total for the flight). We make this optional because it’s not always possible to fly – due to the weather – but more often than not, it IS an option. We don’t want to disappoint you, though, with something outside our control. Please inform us of your decision when you make your reservation and we will book a flight for you*.
In afternoon, we visit the Cantallo Acueducto (a product of the Paracas culture) just outside Nazca, as well as the popular Cementerio de Chauchilla, with displays of bones, skulls, and mummies.
Day 4. Nazca to your destination
After breakfast, set off for your next destination! **
Please let us know if you need any help with the booking. We would be pleased to help you with reservations, be it Lima, Cusco, or Arequipa.
Price of the tour (per person):
- USD $440
* Cost of the flight over the Nazca Lines: USD $125.
** Cost to your final destination is not included.
The Tour Includes
- Transportation (shared). If you require private transportation please let us know
- All entrance fees
- Accommodation – three stars hotels and hostel in Paracas
- All tours with professional English – speaking guides (Italian, French, and German can be organised at your request)
- All breakfasts
- Optional: English, French or Italian speaking tour leader at your requirement
- International and national airfares to and from Peru
- International and national departure taxes at airports
- Other meals
- Personal expenses, such as telephone bills, laundry expenses, beverages, etc.
- Insurance against theft, loss
- Other extras not specified