Ica is located on the Ica River, about 300 km south of Lima, along the desert coast of southern Peru on the Panamericana Highway. Ica is the capital of the Ica region. The area was long inhabited by various cultures of indigenous people before the Spanish conqueror Geronimo Luis de Cabrera claimed its founding in 1563.
Two of the more important cultures that have existed in this region are the Paracas and Nazca.
The Paracas excelled in medicine research. They practiced the trepanation of the skulls of living individuals using knives made of obsidian, a kind of volcano rock, to pierce the skull. It was performed with the aim of eliminating diseases of cerebral origin. The Paracas also reached a high degree of development in the art of weaving.
The Nazca culture is known for its advanced knowledge of hydraulic engineering and for building aqueducts and subterranean canals reinforced by inner walls of stone and wooden roofs.
Also in the Ica region, the famous Nazca Lines are found.
In addition, Ica is the centre of Peru’s wine-producing region and the centre for the production of pisco (a grape brandy), used in Peru´s famous national drink, the Pisco Sour.
Ica is known as the region of sand and sea, of oasis and valleys, and devotion to Señor de Luren.
Vintage Festival (March)
The Vintage Festival celebrates the grape harvest and the wine of the Ica region. During the festival there are horse exhibitions, music festivals, and parties where Afro-Peruvian rhythms are the primary dance music. The major attraction of the festivities is the crowning of the Queen of the Vintage Festival; the elected queen – joined by her court – are the first to crush grapes, step by step, to help extract the juice which will be processed into wine.
Located 5 km west of Ica, this relaxing oasis boasts graceful palm trees, exotic flowers and attractive antique buildings –a testament to the Peruvian elite. Huacachina is the one of the few oases in South America surrounded by massive sand dunes that stretches to the Pacific Ocean. It is known as the best place in Peru to get your thrills on a sand board or dune buggy. You can also rent your own 4×4 and explore the mounds by yourself.
Museo Regional de Ica
The most striking segment of this museum’s collection is the exhibition of Paracas textiles–enigmatic in their apparent coding of colours and patterns. The first room contains a somewhat gruesome display of mummies, trepanned skulls, grave artefacts, and trophy heads made by the Paracas civilisation. The main room is almost entirely devoted to pre-Columbian ceramics and textiles, possibly the finest collection outside of Lima. Paracas urns, exquisite Nazca pottery, and beautiful artefacts from the Ica-Chincha culture are also displayed in this museum. One of the highlights is a beautiful feather cape, with multi-coloured plumes in almost perfect condition.
In this museum, we also find an excellent large-scale model of the Nazca Lines.