In the Ica territory flowered 2 of the most important cultures that lived in this part of the continent. The Paracas culture (600 B. C. - 100 A.D.) and the Naza culture (100 A.D. - 800 A.D.) were the first civilizations of Ica, followed by the Chincha culture (800 A.D. - 1476 A.D.), but there are not many registers of the last one. With the expansion of the Incan Empire, the end of the Chincha culture would arrive, consolidating as new power of the territory of Ica until the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent conquest. After the foundation by the Spanish, Ica would become a commercial region, characterized by its textile and winemaking industries, which saw its origin in 1540, when Nicolás de Ribera el Viejo produced the first eau-de-vie with the Ica raisins.
-Ica is sunny most of the year, with a minimum temperature of 42 °F (9°C) and a maximum of 90 °F (32 °C).
-In Ica the minimum altitude is 2 meters above the sea level (Paracas) and the maximum is 3796 meters above the sea level (San Pedro de Huacarpana).
-From Lima you can take a bus that takes you to Ica in about 5 hours of travel.
-If you want to get to know the places and take the maximum advantage of the activities that nature offers you in Ica, you will have to stay at least 3 days.
How to get around in Ica?
As in any other city in Peru, specially the coastal ones, in Ica you can get around by mini buses (called “colectivos”), combis (buses), taxis or mototaxis. The prices of the tours go from 1 sol to 8 soles depending on the distances.
Risks and cautions
Ica is not a danger city, but it’s always recommended to be cautious. At night is better to get around by taxi, much better if it’s in a group. You should reserve the long trekkings for the day, when it is very nice to go for a walk through the city.
Ica is a warm city on the south of Lima, where you will have the chance of visiting an interesting variety of places for all the pleasures. There are museums of the Paracas and Nazca cultures, who settled down the region hundreds of years ago. In those museums you’ll see skulls that show the technique of skull trepanation, famous technique used by the Paracas for making surgical operations on the head, very advanced for the period. You can also visit the Huacachina lagoon, which is at 10 minutes from Ica. It’s an oasis with a pond in the center of the town, where you can take buggies to go through the dunes and make sandboard. Besides, if the weather allows it, you can board on a boat to make a romantic tour through the lagoon.
Getting to Ica
Location: At the south of Ica, going by taxi or by foot
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Weekends and holidays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Price: 15 soles
If you like pottery and pre-Columbian art, this is the place that you can’t miss, since you will find the best pottery of the Paracas and Nazca cultures.
Location: Plaza de Armas, 170, Avda. Bolívar
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Price: guided tour for 10 soles (high recommended)
The collection of the Museo Cabrera of Ica is, literally, another world. The engraved stones by the “gliptolíticos” men are the proof, that is not in the history books, of a period of time when superior beings walked through this land. You won’t see anything similar nowhere, it worths it to go to this museum, a great alternative to the common museums.
Location: Plaza de Armas, Ica
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Built in the republic period, it’s a beautiful architectural group that preserves ornaments on wood that talk about the seasons of the year, artistic arcades and paint about the proclamation of the independence, something that without a doubt should be seen several times.
Cathedral of Ica
Location: Bolivar street
The cathedral of the city was built in 1759, and since then the construction has suffered landslides due to the incessant seismic activity of the region, but it has been restored or rebuilt several times. It’s the main religious temple of Ica and is formed by 3 naves and 4 chapels. These days the renovation works, after the earthquake of 2007, carry on, what makes it impossible the visit, although you can appreciate the ancient glory from outside.
Location: at 3 mi (5 km) to the west of the city
It’s an incredible oasis in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand dunes, palm trees and eucalyptus. The waters have a green emerald colour and harbor the most representative birds from the region. In the past the waters were believed to have healing properties, but nowadays it’s not recommended to swim inside the lagoon. It’s a great place to relax, escaping from the noisy city, besides being the start point for the adventure tours.
Location: at 2.4 mi (4 km) to the south of the city
It’s a mysteries and legends town, famous for the witch stories, who lived there in the past centuries, it’s told, healing illnesses and damages. The town is surrounded by old palm trees and “guarangos” (a type of tree), that give the frightening aspect to the environment, even if the town, far from beeing gloomy, is inviting. In Caniche you will find the statue of the most famous witch there, Julia Hernández, who predicted nature phenomenons, with precision.
Sandboard and buggys
Location: they leave from the Huacachina Lagoon
Price: from 35 soles and up
You can take an adventure tour at any of the agencies that offer it, located on the lagoon entrance. The tour includes a “tubular” route (buggy) through the desert dunes, to practice later sandboard, sliding on the warm sand of the Ica dunes.
You can practice cycling in a large variety of routes, from the main archaeological sites, to the natural paths, close to the littoral or the desert dunes. You can also find a guided tour by bycicle near the Plaza de Armas.
Location: km 296 of the Panamericana, Subtanjalla district
At the Catador you can get to know the wine production process and the traditional methods for its preparation, enjoying the experience of tasting the wine in its purest state.
Bodegas Vista Alegre
Location: Way to Tinguiña km 2, at 6 mi (10 km) to the noth-east of Ica
How to get there? You can take the bus number 8 to Tinguiña, in the Plaza de Armas for 5 soles.
Hours for the guided tours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Taste with a Picasso brother the finest wine, after 15 minutes of tour. You must not miss it, the grapevine they cultivate have a french and italian origin, but the unique flavour of the Ica climate.
A hearty and salty dish with dried boiled potato and stewed with pork and chicken, chili pepper, sunflower, garlic and other spices.
A dessert made of sweet manioc wheat and dark brown sugar.
A dish of mashed Lima beans and roast beef or pork.
It’s a traditional dessert of Ica, made with dried lime and stuffed with figs or pecans, caramel, and with a sweet sugary top layer, a little temptation.
Pisco is a world-famous alcoholic Peruvian specialty, recognized worldwide for its flavour and quality. It is made of grapes from the region, what gives the unmistakable taste.
Location: In the Ica oasis, Huacachina
Hours: from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Price: 30 soles and above
You'll enjoy a meal in paradise, since the restaurant is located in the lake shores. You will eat outdoors with a fantasy view, bilingual staff and a large menu of Peruvian and international plates.
El Otro Peñoncito
Location: 255, Bolivar street
Hours: 12:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Price: 35 soles and up. Cards accepted
El Otro Peñoncito is a small art gallery and dining room. The menu is varied and we encourage you to try "El Serpentin" cocktail.
Location: 862 Prolongación Ayabaca
Price: an average of 20 soles
It’s specialized in marine food, with fishes and shelfish that will be the delight for lunch. The large room is also available to organize all kind events. Taste the “pescado a la meniere” ( a fish with a great sauce) and the “cangrejo reventado” (ruptured crab), exquisite plates.
Location: 326, Castrovirreyna street
Price: less than 15 soles
It’s powerful food outdoors, you will eat with locals, nothing better to start the homestay tourism.
Location: 327, Castrovirreyna street
Price: less than 40 soles with bathroom and TV
Although there is no hot water and the rooms are simple and acceptable, as well as clean! For the travellers who have a tight budget it won’t be any problem.
Hotel El Huarango
Location: Urb. Angostura with El Medano Y-5
Price: Double room 110 soles and up
The Hotel El Huarango is located at the end of Medano street and is very calm and pleasant. The building forms a U-shape around a beautiful garden and a pool.
Hotel Sol de Ica
Location: 265, Lima street
Price: 130 soles and up. Cards accepted.
The original Hotel Sol de Ica has a garden with big cactus; the rooms are large, spacious and comfortable with bathroom, though you'll only have hot water in the morning and at night. The price includes breakfast and sauna access.
Location: Km 301 on the Panamericana Highway
Price: Double room $50 and up, and suites from $60. Breakfast included
Take a peek at the available rooms before choosing one as each is unique. El Carmelo is a one-of-a-kind hotel decorated in "far west" style and very comfortable, plus it has a bar, restaurant and pool.
Festival del Verano Negro
It’s a festival that consists of Afroperuvian culture and is the center of the celebration. We recommend going during the Afro-Peruvian dance competitions, whose rythms infect the local joy. It’s a different atmosphere that won’t disappoint you. Besides, you can check out handicraft, wine tasting and gastronomic fairs.
Festival de la Vendimia
During the Festival de la Vendimia there will be fairs, contests and dance festivals, as well as festivals featuring Afro-Peruvian rhythms which celebrate the abundance and quality of wine and pisco.
The highpoint of the festival is the grape-stomping to squeeze the juice to be made into exquisite wine. Don't miss what is sure to be an incredible event!
Señor de Luren Festival
A procession is made to venerate the image of the Patron Saint of the city, Señor de Luren. During this festival there are cultural and religious activities, as well as the preparation of typical dishes from the region, for the tourists pleasure.
To have a drink in Ica
Ica is a little town where you can have a drink in the hotels bars, but you can also go to the nightclubs. You can also make a tour on the city and find a inviting bar.
Going out in Ica
Huacafuckingchina - Lounge Bar
Location: Av. Angela de Perotti, oasis of Huacachina
It’s a unique place, with privileged view to the lake and the best music of the DJ Danydian. There are varied drinks and tasteful snacks.
Location: Av. Angela de Perotti/ oasis of Huacachina
It’s located in the beach of the Huacachina and it’s one of the most visited the weekends by nightlife lovers. The revelry is assured!
The Disk el Kristal
Location: 226, Calle Luis Gerónimo de Cabrera, Cerro Prieto
There are many cities from where travel by bus to Ica: Chincha, Cusco, Desaguadero, Ilo, Abancay, Camaná, Moquegua, Nazca, Paracas, Tacna, Arequipa and Lima.
The distance from Lima to Ica is 193 mi (311 km) that take about 5 hours of travel. The transportation companies that cover the route Lima-Ica are Oltursa, Perú Bus, Wari Palomino and Romeliza. The bus tickets cost between 33 and 142 soles, depending on the comfort of the service and company chosen. The schedule when the buses leaves starts at midnight ending at 8:45 p.m.