We went to the very touristy El Catador and to the less visited but equally interesting Vista Allegre.
El Catador is good to see the traditional method of processing the grape, while Vista Allegre will give you an idea of the modern methods now in use.
Both vineyards have friendly staff who will give you a tour of the place. Both charge nothing if you buy at least one product. Both offer a variety of pisco and wines in 75cl bottles or smaller sizes. Prices are cheap but not much cheaper than in supermarkets.
We tried Vista Allegre's wines which are OK but that's it. We were told they only export to South America and a bit to the US because the quality is not high enough to justify shipping elsewhere.
Both Bogedas can be visited in one day although they are at opposing ends from Ica's centre.
NB: Directions on where to take the collectivo for El Catador in Footprint guide are wrong.
Tour and history lesson about this hidden little valley. Owned by Peruvians of Italian descent with an interesting story behind the hacienda. Tasting of several wines produced here and Pisco (peru's national "spirit" (not for the faint of heart!) Included in overnight stay along with meals.
Included in lodging Sat. night @ Hacienda is a candle-lit dinner served by "monks" (Monks originally owned land and vinyard). Acustic Peruvian folk music is played while you are served a first-rate meal. Complementary glass of Ocucaje wine is also served during your dinner in original wine cava (bats and all). Children are cared for by hacienda nanny while parents enjoy a romantic dinner. (Kids roast marshmellows at bonfire outside and watch a movie)
One fun thing to do in Huacachina is to rent a Sand Buggy and to go 4x4 ing over the sand dunes. There are a number of travel comapnies which will give you one ay packages including sand boarding as well. The price is approxamately 163 Sol for the day.
Huacachina is about 4km west of Ica and is featured on the back of the Peruvian 50 Sol banknote. It is a tiny resort village set in a desert oasis. The lagoon is surrounded by graceful palm trees and dominating sand dunes.
Pepe the Condor was rescued as a baby and can be found in the small zoo behind the Ica airport. The attendants will take out the condor and you can touch and pet him. They will expect a small tip afterwards.
The Nazca lines were discovered in 1939 when Paul Kosok flew across the desert and noticed some lines which he mistook for an elaborate irrigation system.
The best way to appreciate the lines is to get a birds-eye view of them in a plane. This is pretty remarkable when you consider that the lines were constructed between 900 BC and 600 AD. Each design is a single continuous line which is the same width throughout.
The flight over the Nazca lines will last about 30-45 minutes. If you get motion sick make sure you take some meds because the plane is small and the elevation low (which leads to more turbulence). The planes also continuously banks left and right in order for both sides of the plane to view the lines properly. Don't worry there are bags in the back of every seat and our pilots continuously asked if we were all right the entire flight.
It is much cheaper to fly over the Nazca lines from Nazca but if time is of an essence then it is possible to arrange a day trip from Lima to Ica and fly over the Nazca lines from there. Tour companies will do an all inclusive package which will include flight from Lima, flight over the Nazca lines, buffet lunch at a hotel then afternoon tour of the area. Our afternoon tour went to Huacachina and some of the local indigenous museums. The whole package was about $225 USD per person.
In the middle of the Ica desert, you can find an oasis, full of beauty and maybe even mermaids. La Huacachina,a s its called, is a natural underwater feed lake that hides between the Ica Dunes. Getting here is as easy as pie. Take a mototaxi from the Main Square and theyll take you there in a jiffy (1.5 soles in 2006). Wonderfull view as you get to the last dune before Huacachina and then you can see it rise on te horizon. The water os not crystal clear, but enough to seat on the shore and get a tan. Also most hostals there have a pool and the stay here is much chepaer than in central Ica. Here you get the chance of sandboarding as well (1 sol for the board for a hour) or take the due buggies (40 S. for a tour) great fun under the sun
Muy cerca del centro de Ica se encuentra el pueblo de Cachiche, conocido por sus .....brujas....... para llegar tomar cualquier colectivo de la plaza q te lleve al pueblo de Cachiche ( .50 in 2006) al montarse decidle q quieres q te deje donde las brujas. Las brujas de Cachiche tienen un pequeño jardin y justo al frente se encuentra un pequeño complejo donde pueden practicar su brujeria tranquilos. Desde el tarot y la palma de la mano lecturas hasta baños de limpeza en una piramide de poder, esto se puede practicar en Cachiche. Antes de entrar al sitio se le puede dar una propina a uno de los niños afuera en la puerta para q le expiquen la historia de Cachiche y de la palmera de las 7 cabezas y su profecia de destruir Ica si no se le toma atencion (casi pasa una vez asi q no se la tomen muy a la ligera....
In the middle od this dessert there is a little place called Paracas. A natural refugee to thousands of birds and home to a wonderfull formation called "La Catedral". The speed boats make it now a lot faster and easier to get to the the islands, en route you will get to see the Chandelier (el Candelabro) formation whose origin is still unknown, some say its the cultura Paracas, some say it was the Dannish pirates as a sailing sign or a masonic lodge symbol. Either way, its amazing after all this years is still there. 32 by 90mts long it hasnt dessapear moreover, the ocean breeze makes the figure harden. From there youll be taken to the Ballestas Islands, where you can even see some penguins, el pinguino Humbolt. And dont forget the Catedral on the Paracas Reserve site, just a 10k walk, or take the tour and theyll take you around the park. A must if you are in Ica.
While in South America, I never tired of mummies, elongated craniums or pre-inca and inca potteries.
The ground floor of this nice museum is full of them and also has some magnificent woven inca clothes. The cloth is so fine and the colours so vibrant, you won't believe your eyes. Their master piece was stolen a couple of years ago, which is a great shame but what is left is more than worth the visit.
The second floor is a display of Spanish period furniture and paintings. Not my cup of tea but nice enough.
Outisde, behind the museum you will find a more or less derelict model of the Nazca lines with a little tower to see it all.
Entrance was 11 (5 for students) soles in 2005 + 2 soles photo permit if you want to take pix (no flash)
Picture 1: a mummy
Picture 2: Woven poncho
Things to do in Nazca
The Nazca Lines
In the Nazca region, scattered over 500 square kilometres of an arid plateau between the Nazca River and Ingenio River, exist huge representations of geometric patterns, animals, humans figures and thousands of perfectly straight lines that go on for kilometres.
The images on the ground are so huge, that the only way to fully observe them is only from the sky. Its real purpose is unknown, nobody actually knows who made them or why?
Flying over the Nazca desert you can marvel looking at the perfect shape of a monkey, a spider, a while, a lizard and various types of birds, including humming birds, sea birds, and the mighty Andean Condor. These strange figures are more than 2000 years old, and they are known as The Nazca Lines. For further information we highly recommend visiting http://www.mysteryperu.com/co_nazca_lines.html , and also check out at the Nazca Lines map at http://www.mysteryperu.com/assets/mapa_nasca.jpg
The Palpa Lines
According to recent archaeological studies the first drawings were made in the Valleys of Palpa and Rio Grande. It is said that 3000 years ago our ancestors used the flat surface of the mountains and the slopes of the hills to draw huge geometric figures and human representations. Archaeologist today believe that the figures were made to pleased ancient gods, who apparently were believed to control the forces of nature, such as; earthquakes, drought and floods.
Nowadays visitors may observe all these wonders of the past, flying over the zone on our small aircrafts, specially designed with large panoramic windows and good comfort to take great pictures. For further information we highly recommend visiting http://www.mysteryperu.com/co_palpa_lines.html, and also check out the Palpa Lines map at http://www.mysteryperu.com/assets/mapa_palpa.jpg
Written by: Enrique Levano Alarcon.
Ica its a small but pleasant town. Visit the Huacachina Lake and the Ica Museum, very interesting. In the sand dunes of Ica is possible to make sandsurfing. The town has also a small market of handicrafts.
There are several ways to see the Nazca Lines. There is a tower along the PanAmerican Highway, from which you can see two of the formations.
However, to really see the lines, if you're so inclined, your best bet is to take a flight. Tourist flights run out of Lima, Ica and Nazca, in order of price.
We booked a flight on AeroCondor from the Las Dunas Sun Resort in Ica, at a cost of $140 per person (credit cards accepted). We were taken by bus to the hotel's airfield, where we waited in a comfortable seating area (no pre-flight video, though I did see a video room...). After taking care of airport taxes ($5 per person) and giving passport numbers, etc., we boarded a 12-passenger plane and took off. The flight down to Nazca was easy enough - mostly over brown mountains. Once we got there, we turned around in the air and the pilots began pointing out the drawings, first banking the plane for the people on the left, then again for those on the right.
Of the six of us, 2 really got sick and the rest of us felt a little green by the end of all the turning. I took ginger capsules before I left, and had some crystallized ginger to chew on as we flew. But still, it was a little gut-wrenching. Most of the drawings are easy enough to spot, although there are many "lines" across the desert, for what purpose, I don't know.
The flight lasted about an hour and a half, and after the twisting and turning, it was a smooth ride again back to Ica. A souvenir shop is on site if you can manage it after the flight.
Note: Best to plan on a morning flight - we had reserved for the afternoon, but when we arrived in town they said they didn't have any more room for us that day.