Lima & The Desert Coast

Many fly in and straight out, but if you have time to spend a couple of days in Lima, you’ll find it jam-packed with fantastic museums, shops, hotels and restaurants.

Unearth the historical gems of the Plaza de Armas, with its fantastic colonial architecture, and wander the labyrinth of catacombs beneath the Catedral de San Francisco. Meanwhile, foodies can sample some of the continent’s best ceviche in the Miraflores district. Our favourite hotel? Belmond Miraflores Park, which has an amazing rooftop pool overlooking the sea.

The desert town of Nazca is the home of the famous Nazca Lines. These are huge animal and human shapes traced in the arid earth, discovered in 1927, and are an archaeological mystery - an absolute must see for anyone visiting this region of Peru. The best way to see this historic site is from above; take one of the flights on offer and see the Nazca Lines from a bird’s-eye view, or paraglide above the formations if you’re feeling adventurous.

Just north of the Nazca Lines on the western coast sits the Reserva Nacional de Paracas, a huge region of tropical desert home to what is said to be the highest concentration of birds in the world. The Ballesta Islands are home to Humboldt penguins, while pelicans, condors and flamingos thrive on the mainland. Sea life includes sea turtles, dolphins and manta rays.

Inland from Reserva Nacional de Paracas, the old city of Ica is the hub of Peru’s famous winemaking region. Something of a green oasis next to Peru’s coastal desert, this fertile region nevertheless enjoys good weather year round, and also produces cotton and asparagus among various other crops. Ica itself, like Pisco to the northwest, is recovering from the effects of an earthquake in 2007; most visitors choose to stay in Huacachina, a charming, small town on the edge of a lagoon.

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