Must see attractions in South Coast

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Nazca Lines

    Spread over 500 sq km (310 sq mi) of arid, rock-strewn plain in the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain), the Nazca Lines are one of the world's great archaeological mysteries. Comprising over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures (geoglyphs) and 70 animal and plant drawings (biomorphs), the lines are almost imperceptible on the ground. From above, they form a striking network of stylized figures and channels, many of which radiate from a central axis.

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Aqueductos de Cantalloc

    About 4km southeast of town are the 30-plus underground Cantalloc Aqueducts, many of which are still in working order and are essential in irrigating the surrounding fields. The impressive series of stone and wood channels and spiraling access ways were built by the Nazca between AD 200 and 900 and are considered one of the finest examples of pre-Hispanic engineering. Locals say the water here is still good to drink.

  • Sights in Ica

    Museo Regional de Ica

    In the suburban neighborhood of San Isidro, Ica pulls out its trump card: a museum befitting a city three times the size. While it might not be the Smithsonian in terms of layout and design, this understated gem catalogs the two key pre-Inca civilizations on Peru’s southern coast, namely the Paracas and Nazca cultures, the former famed for its intricate textiles and the latter for its instantly recognizable ceramics.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Islas Ballestas

    Grandiosely nicknamed the ‘poor man’s Galápagos,’ the Islas Ballestas make for a memorable excursion. The only way to get here is on a boat tour, offered by many tour agencies, touts and hotels. Tours leave at 8am, 10am and noon from the Marina Turística de Paracas. The 8am tour usually has the calmest seas and best wildlife-viewing. While the two-hour tours do not disembark onto the islands, they do get you startlingly close to an impressive variety of wildlife.

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Reserva Nacional Pampas Galeras

    This national reserve is a vicuña (threatened wild camelids) sanctuary high in the mountains 90km east of Nazca on the road to Cuzco. It is the best place to see these shy animals in Peru, with about 5000 of the species residing within the reserve boundaries, though tourist services are very limited. The majority of the reserve is located at altitudes between 4000m and 4200m and temperatures can fall to -5°C so be sure to bring suitable clothing.

  • Sights in Lunahuaná

    Catapalla

    A tiny settlement 6km further up the valley from Lunahuaná, Catapalla is a traditional mountain village with quiet, traffic-free streets and a pretty plaza. It's notable for one of the valley’s oldest artisanal wineries, La Reyna de Lunahuaná which presides over the main plaza. The owners here can teach you the ABCs of pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) and wine production.

  • Sights in Chincha

    Casa-Hacienda San José

    Provoking many visitors to make the trip all the way down from Lima, this former slave plantation with its stately hacienda offers a window into race and class in the Peruvian historical context. While the buildings and grounds are indeed magnificent, the museum could be orientated less to the opulence of the gentry and more to the horrors endured by their slaves. One-hour tours of the hacienda and its famous catacombs include strolls through the original building, with its fine baroque chapel.

  • Sights in Moquegua

    Museo Contisuyo

    Located on the site of the former cathedral, this museum funded by a multinational mining company is an excellent little repository of local archaeological artifacts. Inside you'll find wonderful pottery, textiles, a pair of mummies, a mummified alpaca and a small collection of metal adornments in addition to models of the Cerro Baúl site.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Punta Arquillo

    Just before the Lagunillas turnoff, a spur road branches off the main La Mina road and heads to the southwest for a few kilometers to a parking area near this clifftop lookout. It has grand views of the ocean, with a sea-lion colony on the rocks below and plenty of seabirds gliding by.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Reserva Nacional de Paracas

    This vast desert reserve occupies most of the Península de Paracas and houses remote beaches backed by dramatic arid landscapes and plenty of wonderful wildlife. In front of the Centro de Interpretación near the park entrance there is a lookout from which it's possible to spot Chilean flamingos in the bay below. Further south, La Mina is the best beach in the reserve with gentle waters perfect for swimming. To the west of La Mina, Punta Arquillo hosts a significant sea-lion colony.

  • Sights in Tacna

    Complejo Arqueológico Miculla

    This 43-hectare archaeological site is an outdoor gallery of pre-Hispanic art and is considered to be one of the most important collections of rock art in the country. It contains hundreds of petroglyphs carved into large boulders which were left by the Tiahuanaco culture, with the earliest examples being carved around 500 AD. A 3km circuit runs among the boulders passing engravings of anthropomorphic figures hunting, dancing, playing musical instruments and engaged in battle in addition to many representations of animals.

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Chauchilla Cemetery

    The most popular excursion from Nazca, this cemetery, 28km south of Nazca, will satisfy any urges you have to see ancient bones, skulls and mummies. Dating back to the Ica-Chincha culture around AD 1000, the mummies were originally scattered haphazardly across the desert, left by ransacking tomb-robbers. Now they are seen carefully rearranged inside a dozen or so tombs, though cloth fragments and pottery and bone shards still litter the ground outside the demarcated trail.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Museo Julio C Tello

    Right next to the park visitor center, in front of the Paracas Necropolis burial grounds on Cerro Colorado, this recently expanded museum features interesting archaeological exhibits from the mysterious culture that once dominated the area.

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Palpa Lines

    Like Nazca, Palpa is surrounded by perplexing geoglyphs, the so-called Palpa Lines, which are serially overshadowed by the more famous, but less abundant, Nazca Lines to the south. The Palpa Lines display a greater profusion of human forms including the Familia Real de Paracas, a group of eight figures on a hillside.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Playa La Mina

    This beach is a short drive or walk south of Lagunillas on a dirt road and has gentle waters that make it the best swimming area in the reserve. Vacationing Peruvians flock here in summer (January to March) when it can get fairly crowded. If it's busy you may find the odd mobile drinks concession set up. Camping is also allowed. Plan to bring all the water you will need, and never camp alone as robberies have been reported.

  • Sights in Nazca & Around

    Museo Didáctico Antonini

    On the east side of town, this excellent archaeological museum has an aqueduct running through the back garden, as well as interesting reproductions of burial tombs, a valuable collection of ceramic pan flutes and a scale model of the Lines.

  • Sights in Paracas (El Chaco)

    Candelabra Geoglyph

    A giant three-pronged figure etched into the sandy hills, which is more than 150m high and 50m wide. No one knows exactly who made the glyph, or when, or what it signifies, but theories abound. Some connect it to the Nazca Lines, while others propound that it served as a navigational guide for sailors and was based on the constellation of the Southern Cross. Some even believe it to have been inspired by a local cactus species with hallucinogenic properties.

  • Sights in Chincha

    El Carmen District

    A village unlike any other in Peru, El Carmen is a place where African and Latin American cultures collide with hip-gyrating results. It's famed for its rhythm-heavy Afro-Peruvian music heard in the peñas (bars and clubs featuring live folkloric music). The best lie about 15km outside town and there are two simple affairs on the town square.

  • Sights in Ilo

    Museo Municipal de Sitio Mallqui

    About 15km inland at El Algarrobal is the Museo Municipal de Sitio Mallqui, which hosts a surprisingly noteworthy collection of exhibits on the area’s archaeology and agriculture, including ceramics, textiles, a collection of feather-topped hats and a mummified llama found in tombs nearby. A taxi costs around S12 to S15, but its best to negotiate the roundtrip including wait time for S40.

  • Sights in Lunahuaná

    La Reyna de Lunahuaná

    A rustic bodega producing both wine and pisco (Peruvian grape brandy), venerable La Reyna de Lunahuaná presides over the main plaza in Catapalla, about 6km east of Lunahuaná. The owners here can teach you the ABCs of pisco and wine production. A one-way taxi ride costs from S6, but you may have to wait until a car shows up for the return.