- The Peruvian South Coast refers to Pisco, Paracas, Ica and Nazca; all located south of Lima
- This is a mainly desert area with several sites of archeological and natural importance
- Pisco and Ica are the main wine and pisco producing regions in Peru
- The biggest attraction of the South Coast are the famous Nazca Lines
The Peruvian South Coast refers to the coastal area south of Lima and some of Peru’s biggest attractions. The South Coast is yet another type of Peru and a possible destination just by itself. The Peruvian South Coast can be divided into three separate regions; Paracas, mainly known for the Ballestas Islands and National Park; Ica, known for Huacachina and its bodegas and Nazca famous for its huge Nazca Lines and the nearby Chauchillas Cemetery. So whether you would be looking to fly the Nazca Lines, enjoy a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, enjoying the desert in a dune buggy or enjoy some of Peru’s finest wines and Pisco’s; this is the place to be. These incredible activities combined with some excellent gastronomy and the great climate the Ica region is known for make some amazing and fun days.
THINGS TO DO
South Coast History
The Peruvian South Coast History goes back thousands of years with ancient sites and temples being found all over the Peruvian South Coast. With several dozens of Huacas or ancient burial temples as well as the old Inca sea port of Puerto Inca and the famous Nazca Lines and Chauchillas Cemetary, the Peruvian South Coast is scattered with history. But not only dry history; for one reason he Peruvian South Coast is full of mystery; ancient cultures that left behind artifacts or accomplishments historians nowadays do not know what to think of. In Paracas one can find the museum of the elongated skulls for which no clear explanation has been found; the Nazca Lines have been researched for decades and little is known about the lines or the culture that created them; the underground channels in the outskirts of Nazca and the sheer number of Huacas found in the region make that this is still a very new territory with a lot of questions marks.
South Coast Geography
The Peruvian South Coast is perched in between the Pacific Ocean on one side and the start of the Andes Mountain range on the other. The area is generally flat with the outskirts more mountaineous towards the Andes. The whole region is still part of the might Atacama Desert running from North Chile till the Lima area and therefore is characterized by large flats of either sand or stone undergrounds. The large plains of the region around the rivers coming from the Andes are the ideal underground for the pisco and vineyards that are so often found in the region. The bigger cities of the region are Ica and Nazca, located at about respectively 4 and 7 hours’ drive from Lima. The region is connected by one main road the Panamerican Highway which runs all along the coast of Peru. Even though this being the longest highway in the world, for large parts this highway runs through villages where it is used as the main road with the obvious inconveniences as a result.
South Coast Weather
- Two seasons; winter and summer + transition months
- Little difference in day temperatures between seasons
- Places close to the ocean can have a colder climate than the places more inland
- Little or no rain all year round (early morning drizzle may occur on the coast)
- Humidity levels can often reach 70-85%
- Foggy mornings in wintertime due to Humboldt Current
- Ica – Average Min / Max Winter 15ºC/60ºF – 24ºC/76ºF
South Coast Attractions
The Peruvian South Coast and its attractions can best be divided into three regions; Paracas, Ica and Nazca. The Paracas region is best known for the Ballestas Islands where one can see sea lions, penguins, dolphins and several other marine life. The Paracas National Park is also worth the visit with its deserted beaches and great birding. Ica must be visited in order to see the natural oasis of Huacachina; a fata morgan like place smack in the middle of some huge sand dunes. The surrounding desert is no less impressive nor is its sunset. Around Ica one can also find Peru’s most important wineries and Pisco bodegas, several of these can be visited. In Nazca we find the famous Nazca Lines; these geoglyphes have been here for hundreds of years and so far no reasonable explanation on how they were created or why has been formulated. These can be seen from the viewing platform but the only real way to see the lines is by flying over them. Also in Nazca we can find the creepy Chauchillas Cemetery; an open field in the desert with open graves that graverobbers left behind and where one can still see the original mummies of these ancient cultures sitting in their graves. As you can see there is plenty to do on the Peruvian South Coast.