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 crafted by nature at California desert
- Hike through pristine turquoise lagoons and waterfalls in the Nor Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve
- Take part in an ancient cooking technique: Pachamanca
Journey to Paracas bay & desert adventure at the California desert
Today, we shall leave Lima and drive to Paracas bay, located 3 hours south, along the Panamerican highway. Paracas Bay is the entrance gateway to Paracas National Reserve and the beginning of the coastal deserts in Southern Peru.
In the afternoon, at about 3 pm, we’ll drive to the California Desert where today’s adventure begins. From here, we shall venture over the dunes aboard powerful sand buggies. We’ll be stopping along the way to enjoy the views and, if you like, to practice sandboarding and test our skills in this fun activity. After observing the sunset from the vastness of the desert, we’ll drive back to Paracas where we can relax in our charming hotel.
Ballestas Islands, Paracas National Reserve & Journey to Lunahuana
This morning we’ll board the fully equipped speedboats to the Ballestas Islands. Nicknamed the ”Little Galapagos”, the islands are booming with marine wildlife. We’ll be sailing around the islands to try and spot the sea lions, penguins and various other bird species that live here. We’ll be sailing around the islands to try and spot the sea lions, Humboldt penguins, Guanay cormorants and various other bird species that live here. On route, our boat will make a stop to observe ”The Chandelier”, a vast, 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”.
Finally, 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. Our lodge in Lunahuana is an old adobe house that has been restored to offer the best facilities possible while retaining its essence and contact with nature. Before going to bed, we’ll enjoy dinner with fresh products from the field.
Scenic journey from Lunahuana to Huancaya and Vilca
Today we’ll be traveling to Huancaya, our base town, to explore the fantastic Nor Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve. We’ll be driving east into the mountains on a beautiful 4-hour ascent. On route, we’ll see how the arid coastal surroundings slowly change into more colorful landscapes. We’ll eventually reach Pikicocha lagoon, where we can stop to stretch our legs and admire the scenery. From here onwards, we shall enjoy a route full of breathtaking lakes, waterfalls, and turquoise lagoons.
Upon arriving to the village of Vilca, we take a bridle path for about 1 hour to reach the spectacular Papacocha waterfall. Locals know this area as the “Love Forest” cascades because of its great beauty. Here our guide will explain the importance of forest conservation and the harmonious relationship between man and nature. After enjoying sometime in the area, we make way to Huancaya, where we’ll get settled with our hosts, the friendly Lara family. Our day will end with a little exploring around the town’s picturesque cobbled stone streets and colonial bridges.
Huancaya - Hiking through lagoons and waterfalls
Today, we’ll enjoy an easy hike from Huancaya to the beautiful Carhuayno falls and Hualhua lagoon. We’ll be taking a local path across the lagoons and waterfalls. It’s also quite common to bump into local villagers working in their fields and terraces, some of which go back to pre-Inca times and are still in use. After a small rest in Carhuayno, we can continue walking for another 20 minutes to reach the Hualhua lagoon. From here we can enjoy astonishing views of the valley. At Hualhua we can use the local boats of the community to paddle all the way to the impressive cascades at the far end of the lagoon. We will have some free time to explore this natural paradise and take landscape photographs. Afterward, we return to Huancaya and, in the evening, light a fire while enjoying some of the local myths and legends.
Farewell Pachamanca in Laraos & drive back to Lima
Today we will visit Laraos, a small community located on the top of a valley filled with thousands of old, prehispanic terraces, many of which are still in use nowadays. After enjoying the impressive views, we’ll meet our hosts in village. Together we’ll prepare to be part of a traditional Andean culinary experience called Pachamanca, a Quechua word which we can translate to earth pot. A Pachamanca is an old cooking technique were the food is prepared underground using preheated stones and leaves to separate the components from the soil. This dish is a symbolic meal in which local people interact with the “Pachamama” or Mother Earth. We’ll be participating in the entire process, from harvesting the tubers, to finding the right herbs and stones. Finally, we’ll enjoy our farewell meal with our friends from Laraos, before continuing our journey back to Lima.