Huancaya and off the beaten path Peru
Experience Peru like you’ve never imagined before! We’ll take you on an unforgettable journey to explore the beauty of the Andes and the Peruvian desert, discovering some of the most breathtaking landscapes you’ll find in all of South America. Get up close to a hidden oasis and the marine wildlife of Paracas National Reserve, then wander around the turquoise colors of Nor Yauyos-Cochas’ pristine lagoons and waterfalls. A favorite for photographers and nature enthusiasts, this trip begins with an exciting ride across the sand dunes of the Ica desert in search of the mythical Moron Oasis, a haven of clear waters guarded greedily for centuries by the curves of the desert. We’ll also visit the beautiful Paracas National Reserve and then, get ready for some soft adventure along one of Peru’s most enthralling Andean routes at Huancaya, in the Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve. Discover a side of Peru you didn’t even know existed!
- Ride a sand buggy over massive dunes to the pristine Moron Oasis
- Soft hiking at Huancaya, one of the most beautiful places in Peru
- End your trip enjoying a traditional Andean Pachamanca at Laraos
The Ica desert and Moron Oasis
We’ll start our off-the-beaten-path journey today at around 10.00am, heading from Lima to the Bay of Paracas, located in the desert, 250km south of the capital. After checking into our seaside hotel and relaxing for a while, we’ll head to the starting point of today’s adventure. Once there, we’ll board our powerful sand buggies; pack our sand boards, swimming gear and a little snack; and begin our expedition across the desert towards Moron, a beautiful and pristine oasis surrounded by towering sand dunes. What makes Moron so special is its unspoiled nature, without a trace of human civilization anywhere near it. Think white sands, clear waters, desert and reeds… The oasis will also provide us with a perfect setting for sandboarding and swimming in its pure waters. By the end of the afternoon, we’ll begin our return ride to Paracas, and see some of the Reserve at sunset if our schedule allows it.
Ballestas Islands, Paracas National Reserve and journey to Lunahuana
This morning we’ll board the fully equipped speedboats to Ballestas Islands. Nicknamed the “Little Galapagos”, the islands are literally booming with marine wildlife, so be prepared to see Humboldt penguins, sea lions and other marine bird species along the way. On route, our boat will make a stop to observe the ”The Chandelier”, a huge, enigmatic figure against a sandy backdrop that can only be seen from the sea. Then, upon returning, we’ll drive to the nearby Paracas National Reserve and visit some impressive ocean and desert viewpoints. If you like fresh seafood we can have lunch (not included) in the tiny fishing village of ”Lagunillas”. When ready, we’ll continue with a two-hour drive to Lunahuana, a small town located in the beautiful Cañete Valley, gateway to the Central Peruvian Andes and midpoint to reach Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve. Overnight on our riverside hotel.
Reaching the Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve
This morning, after breakfast, we’ll prepare to head to Huancaya, our base town to explore the amazing Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve. From Lunahuana, we’ll be driving east into the mountains, on a beautiful 4-hour ascent to Huancaya. Get those cameras ready, because on route we’ll see how the arid coastal surroundings slowly change into more colourful, rocky landscapes. When approaching Huancaya, we’ll pass the Pikicocha lagoon where can stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a modest (but nonetheless delicious) picnic-lunch, prepared with fresh fruit from the valley. From here onwards, the river forms many lakes and waterfalls, making this is one of the most scenic areas in all of Peru. Upon arrival to Huancaya, we’ll get settled with our hosts, the friendly Lara family, and our day will end with a little exploring around the town’s picturesque cobbled stone streets and colonial bridges.
Hiking around Lagoons and waterfalls
Today we’ll enjoy an easy hike from Huancaya to the wonderful Carhuayno falls and Huallhua lagoon, taking local paths across emerald-green lagoons and clear waterfalls. It’s also quite common to come across local villagers working in their fields and terraces, some of the latter dating back to pre-Inca times and, impressively, still in use today. After a small rest in Carhuayno we can choose to continue walking for another 20 minutes up to the Huallhua lagoon, from where we can enjoy some of the most iconic views of the valley. As a matter of fact, this spot is a favourite for snapping incredible landscape photographs! If we are lucky and the little boat belonging to the local community is available, we can paddle in the Huallhua lagoon to reach the falls of the same name. Afterwards, we’ll have some free time to explore this amazing natural paradise at our leisure. We’ll then enjoy another modest but very tasty picnic-lunch made with local produce from the area (such as potatoes, cheese, corn, etc.)
After that, we’ll have some time to relax and in the afternoon, we’ll head to the charming little village of Vilca. Along the route you’ll be delighted to see even more breathtaking views of emerald-green lakes, waterfalls and unbelievably turquoise lagoons. Once at Vilca, we’ll take a bridle path from the village towards the main viewpoints of the area from where we can admire the lovely “Love Forest Cascades” and Papacocha lagoon.
Andean Pachamanca at Laraos and returning to Lima
Our final day will give you the chance to have a close look at the Prehispanic terraces in the village of Laraos, which are still in use nowadays. The terraces are remarkable: there are thousands of them, stretching from the top of the mountains down to the shores of the river in the depths of the valley. Today, we’ll also be preparing a traditional Pachamanca which is literally translated from the native Quechua language as “Earth Pot”. This is a typical Andean cooking technique where the food is prepared under the ground, covered with hot stones and a diversity of local herbs. It’s important to know that Pachamanca is a very spiritual and symbolic meal in which the locals invoke the Pachamama or Mother Earth. We’ll be participating throughout the entire process, from harvesting the tubers, to finding the right herbs and stones. After enjoying this farewell meal, we’ll start our journey back to Lima.