Lima Day Trips

El Candelabro, near Pisco, Peru
El Candelabro, near Pisco, Peru © Aguakina


Pisco is a small port and fishing village, and is best known for its fiery white-grape brandy of the same name. One of Peru's major ancient civilisations, the Paracas, established their culture in the area. They left an astounding collection of antiquities, which travellers can see in Lima's museums. The area's main appeal is as a base from which to explore the nearby Paracas National Reserve, where visitors can view an incredible variety of birds and marine life. Boat tours of the Ballestas Islands are another of the area's drawcards. The islands are off limits to people, but the boat tours afford spectacular close up views of the wildlife. Visitors will see thousands of resident and migratory birds, including terns, penguins, cormorants, flamingos, pelicans and red boobies. Huge colonies of sea lions line the shores, and dolphins, turtles and whales populate the surrounding waters. Boats also pass the famous Candelabra on their way to the islands. The pre-historic drawing is etched into the sandstone cliffs overlooking the bay.

Address: Pisco is 150 miles (95km) south of Lima.

The Nazca Plane, Peru
The Nazca Plane, Peru © Brattarb

The Nazca Lines

Nazca is a small desert town in southern Peru. Named after the Nazca civilisation, the area is famous for the mysterious lines and diagrams etched into the surrounding desert floor. Visitors will also find some interesting museums and archaeological sites, including the Chauchilla Cemetery, where 12 exposed underground tombs contain skeletons and preserved mummified forms. That said, the town's main attraction is an aerial flight over the Nazca Lines, which are spread over miles of the region's vast desert terrain. The dimensions of these enormous figures, spirals and geometric designs are so large, the only way to view them is from the air. Pilots will point out the outlines of intriguing bird and animal representations, such as the Condor, Monkey, Spider, Hummingbird, and the unusual cartoon-like character known as the Astronaut. These figures were made by removing sun-darkened stones from the desert floor to expose the lighter coloured stones below, and were created over a thousand years ago. Experts have not discovered why they were created, nor how they were designed. For tourists, the Nazca Lines are among the strangest and most unforgettable sights in the country. They're a legacy of the ancient Nazca culture and one of South America's great mysteries.

Address: Nazca is a few miles in from the coast, 238 miles (383km) southeast of Lima.; Transport: Ormeno and Civa are two of the best bus companies with offices in Nazca.

View from Marcahuasi.
View from Marcahuasi. © Martintoy


Marcahuasi is a plateau in the Andes. Travellers who are interested in the mythical side of Peruvian culture will find it a wonderful excursion from nearby Lima. The mountains are home to some massive and remarkable rock formations of mysterious origin, which seem to depict various animals, human faces, and other symbols. There is debate about whether the formations are natural or man-made, and theories abound as to how the sculptures could have been made and why. Visitors will also see ruins on the north side of the plateau, where more than 50 structures stand in varying states of dilapidation. Some locals view the plateau with superstitious awe, and consider it a spiritual site of great power. The dramatic landscape doesn't see many tourists. Marcahuasi has camp sites and the views from the plateau are breathtakingly beautiful. Nights can be freezing cold, though. Visitors can rent tents, mattresses and other equipment in the village of San Pedro de Casta, which is the gateway to Marcahuasi. Local guides are also available.


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