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Overview

The Pan-American Highway snakes along the southern coast of Peru. In this desert outback, wild vicuña roam and dusty roads lead to remote archaeological ruins. Pachacamac is a monumental ceremonial center with pyramids that pre-date the Incas by 1000 years. The biggest destination for tourists is the mysterious Nazca Lines, a puzzle of straight lines and geometric designs drawn across the plains by an ancient civilization. But don't worry: there is more to the south coast than just sand. The offshore Ballestas Islands are Peru's miniature version of the Galapagos and are flush with bird life, including Chilean flamingos and Humboldt's ...

The Pan-American Highway snakes along the southern coast of Peru. In this desert outback, wild vicuña roam and dusty roads lead to remote archaeological ruins. Pachacamac is a monumental ceremonial center with pyramids that pre-date the Incas by 1000 years. The biggest destination for tourists is the mysterious Nazca Lines, a puzzle of straight lines and geometric designs drawn across the plains by an ancient civilization. But don't worry: there is more to the south coast than just sand. The offshore Ballestas Islands are Peru's miniature version of the Galapagos and are flush with bird life, including Chilean flamingos and Humboldt's penguins. The pastoral village of Lunahuaná is a rural base camp for river rafting and tastings at wineries and pisco (grape brandy) distilleries. Chincha is the center of Afro-Peruvian culture, where there's a frenzy of all-night music and dancing in the peñas (folk clubs) during festivals, especially the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen in late December. The historic Hacienda San José nearby offers tours of a former colonial slave plantation including the ghostly catacombs. Finally, all along the coast from Lima to Tacna, next to the Chilean border, there are endless beaches for sun, surf, and outdoor partying.

Sara Benson
About the Expert

Sara Benson was the coordinating author for Lonely Planet's Peru and wrote the Peru chapter for South America on a Shoestring.

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Sara Benson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The South Coast of Peru is a long desert strip, presenting a barren landscape of sand dunes and cliffs interspersed with the odd oasis of agriculture. Popular in the summer with Peruvians going to the beach.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Nuevo Sol
  • Research: Wikitravel | Paracas Peninsula
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through April