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- 15 Aug 2020, 3 nights
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A popular stop on the Gringo Trail, Ica is where a desert oasis meets the Peruvian coast. Travellers come from all over the world to have a wild time on the Huacachina dunes in buggies or on sandboards, while there are plenty of beaches and areas of natural beauty nearby for when you just want to take it easy. The city itself is a popular base from which to explore the region, and it has an ancient history museum that's widely considered to be one of the best in Peru.
Connect with your fellow guests at an Ica hostel that has a common area with a TV and a book zone. At a place with a patio, you can look out onto the mountains as the sun sets, or make your trip a little easier and stay somewhere that arranges tours for you. Picking a hostel that offers free breakfast is a good way to stay on budget, or you can cook for yourself at a place with a kitchen. Lots of Ica hostels have free Wi-Fi too, so your friends and family are just a click away.
Ica itself is fairly small, so finding your way around town is a breeze, and bars and restaurants will never be far away. If you're after a slice of nature, head to Huacachina village, which is just 10 minutes' drive from Ica and has a striking blue lagoon surrounded by palm trees. If you're looking for a more active experience, try Paracas Bay to the west, where the strong winds are ideal for windsurfing.
In addition to the high-octane activities on the dunes, you can also capture some spectacular sunsets on camera in the desert surrounding Ica. About 3km northwest of Ica is the traditional Vista Alegre Winery, where you can see wine and pisco (white brandy) being made. Just off the coast at Paracas, there are some uninhabited islands where you can spot a variety of bird species, including Peruvian pelicans and Guanay cormorants.
Jorge Chávez International Airport is the nearest airport to Ica. You can take a local mini bus from the airport into the city in about 4 hours. There are regular buses from Lima that will drop you at the Cruz del Sur stop in the centre of the city. Getting around within Ica is easy; there are plenty of taxis and buses available, but it's compact enough to cover on foot.