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El Candelabro | © FLASHPACKER TRAVELGUI/Flickr
El Candelabro | © FLASHPACKER TRAVELGUI/Flickr
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The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Pisco, Peru

Picture of Harry Stewart
Updated: 28 December 2017
Often overlooked by tourists on the well-trodden gringo trail, Pisco and the surrounding region have a surprising number of off the beaten track attractions to explore. From a world-class marine reserve to the ancient relics of long-lost civilizations, here are the best things to see and do in Pisco.
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Cruise around the Islas Ballestas

Also known as the “poor man’s Galapagos“, this series of rocky islands are home to a delightful array of unusual aquatic life. Despite being off-limits to humans, boat tours can sail near enough to see penguins, seals and the blue-footed booby up close and personal.

Islas Ballestas, Perú

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Islas Ballestas | © Esmée Winnubst/Flickr

Explore the Paracas National Reserve

Located just south of the islands is the Paracas National Reserve, a vast expanse that covers both land and sea. Sadly, the spectacular Cathedral Cave collapsed during a 2007 earthquake, although plenty of prime wildlife spotting opportunities and archeological sites remain.

Reserva Nacional De Paracas, Perú

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La Cathedral | © Steve Burt/Flickr
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Marvel at El Candelabro

Within the Paracas National Reserve is the enigmatic El Candelabro, a giant geoglyph whose origins remain a mystery to this day. Theories include a Masonic symbol, the motif of the Mesoamerican world tree, or even a navigational aid for sailors lost at sea.

El Candelabro, Perú

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Plaza de Armas

As the town’s main meeting point, this pretty plaza is a pleasant place to kick back and relax for a while. Tragically, the 2007 earthquake toppled an adjacent church, killing as many as 150 worshipers inside.

Plaza de Armas, Pisco, Perú

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Plaza de Armas | © Paul Silva/Flickr

Learn the colonial history

Many are unaware that Pisco was a contender to be the capital of Peru before Lima was eventually given the honor. During revolutionary times, Pisco served as a base for independence movements and housed the legendary war hero José de San Martín whose manor still stands today.

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José de San Martín | © Wikipedia
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Tambo Colorado

The region was also important to pre-colonial inhabitants, most notably the Paracas people and then later the Inca. The most impressive remnant on display is Tambo Colorado, a large administrative complex from which the Inca ruled during the 16th century.

Tambo Colorado, Libertadores 880, Perú

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Tambo Colorado | © Jocelyn Saurini/Flickr

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The Band of Holes

Another must for the ancient history buff, this series of undulating manmade holes stretches through the desert in the shape of a serpent. Again, no one really knows who built them or why, but theories include a burial site, a storage center, or for agricultural purposes.

Band of Holes, Nazca, Peru

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Sample some Pisco

Peru’s most prestigious national drink is where the town derived its name and, as you might expect, there is a multitude of visitor-friendly vineyards in the region. Most are located around Ica, about a 20-minute drive inland.

Ica, Perú

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Ica Bodega | © Pablo BD/Flickr

Sample the ceviche

A staple all along the Pacific Coast, Pisco is as good a place as any to sample this delicious seafood delicacy. The fish is cooked in lime juice rather than fried, giving it a sumptuous tangy flavor.

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Pay Paracas a visit

Further south down the highway lies the tourist resort of Paracas, a popular spot with Limeños during the sunnier summer months. It’s got more tourist infrastructure than Pisco, meaning it’s a good alternative for those who just want to visit the islands.

Paracas, Perú