Location: Central Coast
Area: 21 305 km2.
Capital: Ica (406 masl)
Altitude: Minimum: 2 masl (Paracas)
Maximum: 3796 masl (San Pedro de Huacarpana)
Ica is known as an area of sand, sea, oases and valleys, the cradle of Peru's Creole culture, saints and medicine men, where the best pisco brandy is distilled and where religious fervor is strong in the worship of the Señor de Luren or the Yauca shrine. The sandy wastes of this area gave rise to major pre-Colombian civilizations, leaving traces that have survived the ravages of time and wind erosion.
Founded in 1563 by Luis Jerónimo de Cabrera, the city of Ica, capital of the department of Ica, still features superb colonial constructions such as the Cathedral and centuries-old mansions.
The road to Ica provides the traveler with a variety of attractions. First stop along the way is Chincha, a balmy valley that combines festivals and tradition and which is the heart of a culture forged by the descendants of African slaves brought to work the cotton plantations. A few kilometers further on lies the Paracas National Reserve, the only protected area in Peru that includes a marine eco-system. From the pier at Paracas one can take boatrides out to the Ballestas islands, where one can spot sea lions, Humboldt penguins, flamingos and sea birds.
South of the city of Ica lies the Huacachina Oasis, and a few kilometers ahead, the Nazca Lines, an extraordinary legacy bequeathed by the ancient people of the Nazca culture. The Lines, an enormous network of lines and drawings of plants and animals that cover an area of some 350 square km, provide an unforgettable experience for those who fly over them.
Ica celebrates three major events: the Wine Festival (Ica is index.htm to many vineyards which produce excellent wines and pisco) and the festivals of the Señor de Luren and the Virgen del Carmen of Chincha. This is a good time to try typical Ica dishes and sweets, as well as to visit the town of Cachiche, famous for its folk healers who are said to be able to cure all kinds of ills.