Introducing South Coast
The main mystery that preoccupies outsiders as they inspect the barren, foggy, uncompromisingly dry desert that infests Peru’s southern coastline for the first time (usually from the window of a crowded bus) is, how does anyone live here? It, thus, comes as a surprise to discover that people don’t just live here, they positively thrive – check out Ica’s wine industry or Chincha’s Afro-Peruvian culture if you want proof. What’s more, they’ve been thriving for millennia. The perplexing Nazca Lines, a weird collection of giant geoglyphs etched into the desert, date from 400–650 AD, while intricate cloths unearthed on the Paracas peninsula were woven 1000 years before Pachacuti led the Incas out of Cuzco. Though Machu Picchu hogs most of the limelight in Southern Peru, the south coast is pierced by a lesser ‘gringo trail’ whose obligatory stops include adventure nexus Lunahuaná, wildlife obsessed Paracas, Nazca and the desert oasis of Huacachina.