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The city of Ica is the capital of the Ica Region in southern Peru. While the area was long inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples, the Spanish conquistador Gerónimo Luis de Cabrera claimed its founding in 1563.
The city is located on the Ica River about 300 km to the south of Lima, along the desert coast of southern Peru.
Ica is known as an area of desert, sand dunes, oases and valleys, the birthplace of Creole art of Peru, blessed people and witches, where the best pisco brandy is distilled and where religious fervor is strong in the worship of the Señor de Luren or the Yauca shrine.
The sandy wastes of this area gave rise to major pre-Colombian civilizations, leaving traces that have survived the ravages of time and wind erosion.
Ica offers a comprehensive view of the varied cultural influences that form an important part of the Peruvian culture. The Wari, Nazca, Chincha, Paracas and Ica cultures have contributed to the making up of the whole cultural scenario.
The best place to witness this confluence of cultures is the Regional Museum in Ica Peru. The Regional Museum has an impressive collection of artifacts belonging to the different eras of history including ceramics, textiles, mummies and trophy skulls.
The city was founded in the middle of a fertile valley. Before its foundation, the Spaniards planted grapes brought from Canary Islands (Spain) and then began the tradition of the wine and the pisco.
Ica was the first city where wine and grape liquor were produced, and from this point they were exported to all the Spanish colonies in America. They used the port of Pisco to embark the grape liquor, giving origin to the name of one of the most famous liquors prepared in Peru.
The breweries and vineyards are among the famous tourist spots. Wine making and pisco distillation is one of the major industries in Ica. The wineries or bodegas are open for a tour around. The places generally have a shop that sells the liquor made in that place.
The Spanish conquistadors named Ica "Villa de Valverde" which means "City of the Green Valley". The many days of sunshine have made Ica the center of an important agricultural region. Commodity crops are cotton, grapes, asparagus, olives and other produce.
It is known by Peruvians as the "Land of the Sun". Although there are the four seasons, the warm dry climate makes it feel like summer year-round. The climate of the city can help in easing asthma, which is aggravated by damp and humid climates and their associated allergens.
But given the desert climate, agriculture has been relying on an aquifer fed by glacial melt water, and is currently exceeding the inflow of water into the aquifer. The aquifer is quickly drying up, leading to calls for more efficient irrigation, or adding dams and water diversions.
The Nazca Lines are just one of the area attractions that make Ica travel so exciting and rewarding. Other Ica tours might include exploring the surrounding desert in a dune buggy, sandboarding the desert hills, taking a paleontology tour, or combining the exploration of a fossil deposit with time spent on the beach and fishing.
For some, the Ica tours that are available often become a major highlight of a Peru vacation. If you are looking to relax and get away from it all during your Ica vacation, you can’t beat spending some time at the Huacachina Oasis. Just 10 minutes outside of town, this palm-lined desert lagoon is among the top Peruvian vacation destinations.
From Ica, you might consider heading north to the city of Pisco, or east to Cusco. Pisco may serve as a jump-off point from which to explore the nearby Paracas Nature Reserve. You can also hail a motorboat for a trip to the Ballestas Islands, where you can observe animals such as sea lions and penguins.