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Travel to the Ica Region of Peru for Penguins, Sandboarding & the Nazca Lines

Travel to the Ica Region of Peru for Penguins, Sandboarding & the Nazca Lines

Sandboarding at Huacachina Oasis near Ica, PeruFor a desert, the coastal region of Ica in Peru certainly has a lot to offer, including Humboldt penguin colonies, mummies, pyramid temples, the Nazca Lines, sandboarding around Huacachina Oasis, pisco distilleries, and Afro-Peruvian criollo music and food. Learn which activities in the Ica Region are most popular, how to get there, and what traditional dishes to eat while you’re there…

Sandboarding Thrills by Huacachina Oasis near Ica, Peru

Sandboarding Thrills by Huacachina Oasis near Ica, Peru

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cities of Ica and Nazca are found south of Lima, along Peru’s desert coast. Not far outside of Ica, one finds Huacachina Lagoon, surrounded by some of the largest sand dunes in the world. (You can take a taxi there from Ica for about S/5 Peruvian soles).

Its massive sand dunes are attractive to travelers who careen along them in 4-wheel-drive sand buggies or try sandboarding, which is thought to date back to the ancient Egyptians. Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding or surfing, except that it takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-covered mountains or waves. (The main differences in equipment are that sandboards are generally harder than snowboards, waxed to increase speed on the sand, and may or may not have straps for your feet.) It’s a fun sport that can be practiced year-round. Rather than a lift, sandboarders get to the top of the sand dunes by walking or riding a dune buggy.

Following the Footsteps of the Nazca

Following the Footsteps of the Nazca

Nazca, PeruThough best known for the Nazca Lines, the Nazca civilization holds much more intrigue and many more sights worth seeing than you might imagine. As the empire rose from a series of isolated villages to a regional power, only to subsequently disappear, it left behind many other traces besides the lines. Of note are the pyramids of the Cahuachi pilgrimage site, which was mysteriously abandoned, the spiral aqueducts of Cantayo, the thousand-year old mummies of the desert and their head jars, and the colorful, surrealist ceramics and weavings.

Program for the 14th Annual Marcona Tourism Week

Program for the 14th Annual Marcona Tourism Week

FlyerSemanaTuristica2014OF2The fishing town of San Juan de Marcona is located just 44 miles from Nazca and is mainly known for its beaches and the Bay of San Fernando Reserve, which shelters diverse marine life, including boobies, Humboldt penguins, and sea lions. The most popular beaches are Playa Hermosa and La Lobera.

Each summer, it Marcona celebrates its Tourism Week in order to showcase the area for national and international tourists as well as locals. This year, it will run from Saturday, February 8th through Sunday, February 16th and will offer a series of sporting, cultural, and recreational events. Read on for the program…

Best Time to Travel- When to Visit Peru

Best Time to Travel- When to Visit Peru

Best Time to See: The Andes

 Flying into Cusco peru Heading towards Mt Salkantay








The vast Andean mountain range includes fertile valleys marked by patchwork subsistence farming, traditional adobe cities with cobblestone streets and colorfully dressed locals, and the Incan ruins of fortresses, temples, and terracing. The glacial peaks provide a scenic challenge to the most intrepid travelers, and the jungle brow (high-altitude jungle) and cloud forests help make the Andes the region housing the most microclimates in Peru. Travelers visit to explore the former imperial capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, discover for themselves the iconic Machu Picchu Archeological Complex, and practice extreme sports along the mountainsides and river rapids.

The weather is extraordinarly varied, meaning that cold mornings and frigid nights can combine with sunny, very hot afternoons. During the rainy season, it can rain everyday of your stay, but generally in short bursts. Bring layers that will allow you to adjust to the temperature shifts, and don’t forget the sunblock even during the rainy season- the sun scorches at higher altitudes.

Dry Season: May to October 

thumbs up Inti Raymi Festival & Cusco’s Anniversary (June)
thumbs up Clearer TrailsThe Plaza de Armas of Cusco
thumbs up Better Views- especially Machu Picchu
thumbs up Hillsides Bloom (September)
thumbs down Higher demand & more crowding
thumbs down Higher prices

Wet Season: November to April

thumbs down Uncomfortable for hiking (muddy paths, potential Machu Picchu through the Vineslandslides)
thumbs down Clouded views
thumbs down Unexpected dangers & delays (flooded roads, derailed train tracks)
thumbs up Fewer people
thumbs up Great bargains
thumbs up New Years in Cusco
thumbs up Fiestas Patrias Independence Days throughout Peru Llama at Awanacancha near Cusco(April)

What to do: explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas, raft the Apurimac River rapids, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, watch a traditional weaving demonstration, visit Sacsayhuaman Fortress, tour the former imperial capital of the Incas

Best Time to See: Desert Coast

Penguins of the Ballestas Islands misti  Boarding light aircraft in Nazca




Peru’s arid Pacific coast is home to the ancient cities of Chan Chan and Sipán, the Paracas   Reserve, and the Nazca Lines. While Nazca, Ica, and Paracas are hot and sunny throughout the year, epitomizing general conceptions of desert climes, you’ll notice some anomalies: Lima is very humid due to coastal fog and breezes from the Pacific, which regulate the city’s temperature so that it’s never too hot or too cold. Meanwhile, the cooling effects of the Humboldt current means you can see penguins off of the coast of Paracas, in the Ballestas Islands.

At least in Lima, one can categorize two seasons, summer and winter, with May and November acting as transitional months with dramatic temperature fluctuations:

Summer: December to April

thumbs up Temperatures average 78.8 F in Lima
thumbs up Clear skies most dayslima catheddral
thumbs up “Cielo de Brujas” famously colorful sunsets
thumbs down Crowded beaches
thumbs up Ica & Nazca dry and sunny throughout year

Winter: June to October

thumbs down Averaging 59°C in Lima
thumbs down Mainly gray skies in Lima
thumbs down Omnipresent coastal fog known as Garúain LimaCotahuasi Canyon
thumbs down Sandstorms in Paracas
thumbs up Ica & Nazca dry and sunny throughout year
thumbs up Beaches along the north still sunny
thumbs up Low Tourist Season- Less Crowding
thumbs up Low Tourist Season- More Bargains
thumbs up Better waves for surfing
thumbs up Bullfighting season in Lima
thumbs up Lord of Miracles Festival in Lima (Oct/Nov)
thumbs up St Rose of Lima Festival in LimaThe Oasis town of Huacachina

What to do: Hike one of the world’s deepest canyons, fly over the Nazca Lines, Sandboard giant sand dunes near Huacachina Oasis, surf in Mancora, watch the penguins and sea lions of the Ballestas Islands, tackle the glacial peaks of Chachani, bike down Misti Volcano

Best Time to See: The Amazon

Amazon river boat Brightly colored Amazon parrot Exploring Iquitos







The Amazon Rainforest houses an astounding diversity of exotic plants and animals, as well as tribes indigenous to the area, who still uphold their timeless traditions in the face of an ever-encroaching modernity. Although much of this treasure is forbidden to access in order to protect its pristine nature and delicate ecosystems, there is a border area where tourism and scientific study are permitted. (Between the two zones, there’s a buffer zone to protect the refuge area.) Along the rivers and the jungle paths of the outer zone, one can find commune with capybara, sloths, monkeys, and more.

In the rainforest, high heat, frequent rains and 85% humidity come with the terrain. Although a wet season and dry season is frequently referenced, there isn’t much actual variation in rainfall throughout the year. The river water levels, however, can vary up to 40 feet throughout the year, mainly due to runoff from snow melting along the eastern slopes of the Andes.

December Thru May: High Water SeasonFishing for Paiche in Iquitos  

thumbs up Cooler temperatures (averaging 86 F)
thumbs down Trails & paths flooded
thumbs down More mosquitoes
thumbs up More exuberant, blooming vegetation
thumbs up Carnaval (Feb/May)

Giant Ceiba Tree in IquitosJune Thru November: Low Water Season

thumbs down Higher temperatures (averaging 98 F)
thumbs up More trails & paths accessible
thumbs up Fewer mosquitos
thumbs up Better fishing
thumbs up Migratory birds in flight
thumbs down Less exubuerant vegetation
thumbs down Riverways not navigable
thumbs up More animals gather riverside (less dispersal due to loss of terrestrial water pools)
thumbs down San Juan Festival (end of June)

What to do: visit an indigenous tribal community to learn Giant Lily Pads in Iquitosabout their way of life, swim with pink dolphins, visit a macaw clay lick, fish for piranha, visit monkey island, go on night canoe trip to see glowing cayman eyes, watch the sun set over the Amazon River, visit traditional river house