On this weeklong journey through Peru, you'll get a taste of metropolitan Lima before heading south to Paracas for a marine wildlife tour. Next, head to Nazca and get an aerial view of some of the world's most impressive geoglyphs. Top it all off by trying your hand at sandboarding in the desert oasis of Huacachina.

Highlights

  • Take in the sights and tastes of Lima, Peru's metropolitan capital
  • Learn about Peru's coastal wildlife during a trip to the Ballestas Islands
  • Get an aerial view of some of the world's most impressive geoglyphs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Lima City & Food Tour Lima
Day 3 Excursion to Pachacamac temple & Peruvian Paso horse show Lima
Day 4 Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure: Lima - Nazca Lines - Huacachina - Paracas Paracas
Day 5 Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve: Paracas - Ballestas Islands - Lima Lima
Day 6 Free Day in Lima - History & Museums: Paracas to Lima Lima
Day 7 Departing Lima  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 
  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Lima City & Food Tour

Peruvian ceviche
Peruvian ceviche

Spend the day discovering Lima through its food. With a vibrant combination of Indigenous American, African, Asian, and European culinary influences, Lima is one of the world's most impressive gastronomic and cultural centers. 

Start the day early in Lima's Historical center to visit a local mercacado—a fresh food market—to taste the local produce and sample spices, fruits, and various baked bread. Taste different types of Piscos—a high proof brandy produced locally in the wine-making regions of Peru and Chile. Attend a cooking class and learn how to make ceviche, a fresh seafood dish marinated with salt and lime juice, and the traditional pisco sour—a Peruvian classic.  

Stop for lunch at one of Lima's top restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal on a patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. Stroll to the bohemian district of Barranco—a popular oceanside neighborhood for artists, tourists, and locals alike—for a relaxed afternoon drinking coffee and sampling Peruvian desserts.

Day 3: Excursion to Pachacamac temple & Peruvian Paso horse show

Traditional folk dancing with Peruvian Paso horses
Traditional folk dancing with Peruvian Paso horses

Today you will visit the district of Chorrillos on the coast. Start your day with a drive to Pachacamac, one of the main Inca ruins. On the way, stop to enjoy the sights at Pantanos de Villa, a protected coastal wetland sanctuary. Once you arrive at Pachacamac, spend the morning exploring the sprawling Inca complexes, pyramids, temples, and plazas. This religious site was settled around 200 C.E. and flourished until the Spanish conquest. 

After a morning of sightseeing, head to a local hacienca for lunch and a show. After your meal, enjoy the artistry and stunning horsemanship of the traditional Peruvian Paso horse and marinera dance. Return to your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 4: Nazca Lines & Huacachina Adventure: Lima - Nazca Lines - Huacachina - Paracas

Nazca Lines from above

Your day begins with a 6:30 AM pick up from your hotel in Lima, followed by a scenic 4-hour drive along the coast south to the seaside town of Paracas. After arriving, transfer to the nearby airport in Pisco. From here you will take a 90-minute flight south aboard a 12-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan to view the sprawling Nazca Lines. You will get a chance to see many of the most famous geoglyphs, including the hummingbird, dog, tree, whale, lizard, and more. 

These massive images, the longest of which are  1,200 ft (370 m), vary from geometric lines to figures of animals and people. Due to the stable environment of the Nazca desert, these geoglyphs—which were created by removing the top layer of iron-oxide coated pebbles to reveal the light-colored clay underneath—have been remarkably well preserved.  

After the flight head to Huacachina for an adventure in the desert sand dunes. Hop on a sandboard to surf down the larger dunes. 

In the evening, transfer to your hotel in Paracas.

Day 5: Ballestas Islands & Paracas National Reserve: Paracas - Ballestas Islands - Lima

The charsimatic Humboldt penguin
The charsimatic Humboldt penguin

Get an early start for your eco-tourism adventure today. Head to Pisco's port—the launch point for today's trip. From here the tour heads west to the Ballestas Islands,  a group of small rocky islands that provide vital nesting grounds for marine birds like the guanay guano bird, the blue-footed booby, and the tendril. These outcroppings are also home to fur seals and sea lions, as well as other mammals. The most notable characters of this island are the Humboldt penguins, which live along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru. 

On the way to the islands, you will pass the Paracas Candelabra, a pre-historic geoglyph which dates back to 200 BCE and pre-dates the Inca Empire by 1600 years. Dug several feet into the ground, this 595 ft (181 m) tall motif can be seen 12 miles (19.3 km) out at sea, and might have served as a beacon to sailors. 

Stop to see the turritellas—fossilized remains of sea snails that hint at the area's ancient underwater past. Visit The Cathedral, a million-year-old rock formation that sits just off the coast. 

Later, explore the colorful beaches of Playa Lagunilla, Red, and Yumaque. Return to Lima in the evening.

Day 6: Free Day in Lima - History & Museums: Paracas to Lima

The romantic neighborhood of Miraflores at sunset
The romantic neighborhood of Miraflores at sunset

After breakfast, transfer from Paracas back to Lima. Take the rest of today to explore Lima's art, architecture, and history at your leisure. Head to some of Lima's best museums, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants.

Take a ramble along the Miraflores clifftops with their lovely landscaped parks and slot in an afternoon of culture with visits to either the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Museum of Contemporary art) or the restored pyramid of Huaca Pucllana, a monument to the pre-Inca lima culture bizarrely jutting up in the midst of leafy Miraflores.

Allow a half day at least for exploring central Lima. Focus your explorations on the impressive Plaza Mayor. Here the impressive Cathedral contains the remains of city founder Francisco Pizarro, whilst striking facades assail you from every angle: the Moorish balconies of Palacio Arzobispal and the beautiful baroque Palacio de Gobierno, home of Peru's President. Other architectural highlights include the city's most captivating church, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo.

Next, head to the exquisite Museo Larco for a spellbinding introduction to all of Peru's ancient cultures, presented wonderfully and told through some intriguing ceramics and artifacts.

End the day by enjoying a delicious dinner at one of Lima's best restaurants, then head out for a nightcap at one of the city's celebrated cocktail bars.

Day 7: Departing Lima

Evening view of the Coastline in Lima
Evening view of the Coastline in Lima

Today, you will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Lima Airport for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Lima, Paracas & Nazca Adventure - 7 Days
Map of Lima, Paracas & Nazca Adventure - 7 Days