The Ica desert is one of the most fascinating places on the Peruvian central coast. In addition to its impressive dunes, the Huacachina lagoon, a green oasis in the middle of the sand, stands out in this desert landscape.
It is also a good destination for practicing adventure sports: Sandboarding in its dunes, speedy tubular tours (buggies), quad rides, …
Do not hesitate, prepare your trip now and keep these tips in mind during your visit to the Ica desert.
1. When is the best time to visit the Ica desert?
The average temperature does not vary much during the year, so you can travel at any time to this area. However, in summer the temperature can be quite high (30°C-35°C) and in winter it can be somewhat low in the morning and evening (6°C-10°C).
Because of this, our advice is to travel in the spring or in the austral autumn (April-May, October-November). This way you will not spend so much heat during the day and the mornings/nights will not be as cold as in winter.
2. How much time is necessary to visit the Ica desert?
With 1 to 2 days is enough, depending on the places and activities you want to do.
3. How to get to the Ica desert?
Ica is located 300 km from Lima by the Pan-American South. Although it is a bit far to go and return in the day, its location is perfect to enjoy your visit and complement it with other nearby options: Nazca, with its famous Nazca lines, Paracas, with its Nature Reserve and the Ballestas Islands, or Lunahuaná, where you can practice adventure sports.
4. Where to stay in the Ica desert?
You can choose from many options. However, since there is not much to see in the city, you recommend that you look for accommodation in or near the Huacachina lagoon.
5. What clothes to wear?
Due to temperature changes in the desert, we recommend that you wear several layers of comfortable clothing. This way you can adjust it depending on the temperature.
Also, do not forget to take:
- Sunglasses and sunblock.
- Water or isotonic drink.
- Hat or visor for the sun.
- Comfortable shoes.
6. What is the typical food?
Peru, named several times best gastronomic destination worldwide, has cuisine of enormous variety and quality.
Specifically, in the Ica area, the most typical food is:
- Carapulcra: Dish made with dried potatoes, pork, garlic and several ajís (peppers).
- Dry soup: Carapulcra with espaquetis.
- Chickpea Salad: Onion, lemon, chili and chickpeas compose this simple dish.
- Chupe de pallares verdes: Soup based on beans, onion, milk and cheese.
All paired with a wine from the area and pisco, as digestive liqueur at the end of lunch.
7. What activities and places of interest are there in the Ica desert?
The activities and the most typical places of interest of the Ica desert are the following:
- Huacachina lagoon: A spectacular oasis in the middle of the desert. Its water and vegetation contrast with the dryness of the dunes that surround it.
- Dunes of Ica: Enjoy the desert landscape. Incredible dunes from which to see the oasis of Huacachina, nearby hills and, if you have good views, to the ocean.
- Tubulares: Buggies with which to climb and descend at full speed the dunes, feeling the adrenaline throughout your body. It is the most famous activity in the area.
- Sandboard: The equivalent of snowboarding, but on sand dunes. Slide downhill and feel the emotion running through your body.
- Regional Museum: Simple in appearance, but it stores a good collection of pieces, mummies and skeletal remains of the Paracas culture. If you have a free time, we recommend you to visit it.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- Wineries: In this area are some of the best wine and pisco wineries, the famous Peruvian grape liqueur (similar to a white marc). There are organized excursions to see the facilities, taste pisco and, who wants it, buy a souvenir bottle. There are also options for night visits, to continue the party after …
- Peruvian horse show: You can also go to one of the shows whose protagonist is the Peruvian horse: trotting, “dancing” sailor, … Its amble (harmonic walk) is unique in the world. A true Creole symbol of Peru.
8. Other destinations near Ica
If you have already visited the Huacachina lagoon, enjoyed the pisco wineries and felt the rush of adrenaline with the tubular and sandboard, come also to these places if you have time:
- Nazca: City located 144 km south of Ica. It stands out for its world famous Nazca lines.
- Paracas: This coastal area is 70 km from Ica. It stands out for the nature reserve, with breathtaking views of the cliffs , as for the ballestas islands, which harbor several marine species (penguins, sea lions, dolphins, seagulls and pelicans). Also, if you like windsurfing or kite surfing, Paracas is your place.
- Lunahuana: Adventure zone located 188 km from Ica and 185 km from Lima. Here you can go rafting, quad biking, horseback riding or hiking on the slope of the Andes.
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