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Paracas: A vibrant experience three hours away from Lima (Part I)

Peru is world-known for its biodiversity and outstanding landscapes, covering coasts, deserts, jungles, mountains and lakes.
We may hear about the Amazonas or Machu Picchu, but there is a special spot just three hours away from the capital city that still remains in charming virginity.

I always thought that transforming yourself while travelling is the best way to apprehend the places you visit. This impact doesn’t always occur; but it did here.

The moment you arrive to Paracas (conjunction of quechua words for rain and sand) you will be embraced by this cosy little town where people enjoy their daily lives in calm delight.

The palms surrounding its port, together with the boats floating in the green-grey waters covered with pelicans is one of the first things you should go and see the moment you arrive to Paracas, especially if you do it right before sunset.

Strolling down the malecon impacts you in such a way that you would immediately feel the magic surrounding these ancient lands.

But then you realize that this is just the beginning of this wild journey you are about to engage in.

While I was still in Lima, I contacted Huacachina Tours Agency, a traditional agency from the Ica Region, which has been promoting tourism in this part of the country for more than 20 years. Its General Director is Mr. Pablo Granda and they offer a complete coverage to the finest destinations hidden in these deserts.

The Pisco path

We woke up on Saturday after having some pisco sours the night before at a local bar at the main street, and met Marlenne very early in the morning at the main square.

Tacama: Peru’s first vineyard.

Tacama: Peru’s first vineyard. By Fernando Mora.

She was our English-speaking tour guide. Together with the driving man they drove us to a nearby pisco and wine distillation ranch called“El Portón”, at the La Caravedo Hacienda, one of the oldest in the region, dating from the early 16th Century.

Back then the monks there used to prepare pisco and store it in big vessels, which shape they copied from the ones the Incas used.

They still use these old facilities, but they also count with the latest German high technology to cover the whole process. The original home that belonged to the friars is now restored and it works as an artisanal distillery.

We walked around the gardens and the vineyards, and entered the modern facilities to see how the whole process worked.

El Portón is the leading pisco exporter in the world and the most rewarded, with 150 awards collected so far. They’ve been distilling pisco for more than 350 years.

They explained us that the name “pisco” comes from the Inca “pisca”, the name for the vessels where they would storage the beverage; the same ones the friars then copied to storage, first the wine, and then the pisco.

After visiting all the installations we took some time at the bar to taste some pisco.

The one I liked the most is the acholado, a blend of grapes.  Now, the girl at the bar also prepared a special recipe for us, which you should try without a doubt, especially if you feel pisco is too strong for you.

Enjoying some pisco at El Portón.

Enjoying some pisco at El Portón.

It goes like this: you cut some ginger (without skin), get a glass and put two and a half ounces of pisco, fill the glass with ice and put some ginger ale on it. Now you are holding the most refreshing and tasty long drink you’ll ever know.

Message to the sky from ancient cultures

After El Portón, Marlenne took us to the most expected and amazing experience in the Ica Region: The Nazca Lines, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Covered in mystery, no one knows exactly how they managed to do this. They are supposed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 100 BC and 500 AC. They would design these images, that could only be seen from the sky and that would remain there for thousands of years, as a way of communicating with their Gods and understanding the season’s change.

We took a small plane at Nazca Airport and flew over more than 6 different images; from the simple “Astronaut” to the more sophisticated “Hawk”.

The flight takes around an hour and a half. It takes half an hour to reach the area, and once you get there you feel the splendour of this antique civilization.

The hummingbird at the Nazca Lines.

The hummingbird at the Nazca Lines. By Fernando Mora.

The plane would go in circles, for both sides of it to have a perfect view of each figure.

Once we stepped down from the airplane, some of us a little bit dizzy, Marlenne took us to eat some typical food at the Pisco Road, where traditional restaurants attended by whole families expect you with their tables on the galleries of typical colonial houses surrounded by vineyards.

I tried their duck, a specialty of the region (and you certainly know how amazing Peruvian kitchen can be), but there are many other options.

We then visited another typical vineyard of the zone in an old Estancia, where we were able to learn a little bit more, not only about the pisco production, but wine Peruvian production as well.

About Napoleón Laroze

26 years old Argentinian political scientist and journalist travelling around the world and producing socio-economic reports on the most dynamic economies. Specialized in political communication. He speaks Spanish, English and German.

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