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South Coast

South Coast General

Going from North to South along the Pacific Ocean, let’s say Lima the northern point and Tacna the most southern, the south coast of Peru, together with Lima is one of the most populated areas of the country. The region, mostly made up out of different types of desert, sand desert to rock desert, with green fertile river deltas, has been home to different cultures throughout the large history of this part of Peru. The coastal plains of Peru are proven to be one of the oldest inhabited parts of South America. Here the Moche Culture and before them the Norte Chico cultures have left their marks in this region. The area around Ica and Nazca has many ancient constructions and temples going back to 1000’s of years BC.

Later cultures include the Nazca Culture, mainly known for their mysterious Nazca Lines. In the 15th century these lands were conquered by the Inca’s who incorporated them into their empire and started intense trading with the coast, sierra and jungle people from all over their empire. This is when the Peruvian vial system received its first boost. The Inca’s, masters in constructing roads and paths in impossible places, prepared a road map crossing the entire empire from north to south and east to west. After the arrival of the Spanish, the Inca Empire started crumbling down and the coast was one of the first regions to fall to the reign of the Spaniards. Soon enough they found out the importance of this vial system and started marching towards Cusco and other cities in the mountains. 

Nowadays the coast is a combination of cities located besides the Pan-American Highway, and fertile plains where agriculture is the main source of income. The region is also home to some of the bigger cities in Peru. On the South Coast the bigger cities are Ica, Pisco, Chincha, Nazca, Moquegua and Tacna. Ica and Pisco are known for their wine and pisco distilleries and the origins of the true Peruvian aguardiente Pisco, can be found here. Chincha is known as being one of the cradles of Afro Peruvian culture, being home to one of the bigger Afro Peruvian communities in Peru. Nazca is of course known for the Nazca Lines which you can fly from here and the cementary of Chauchilla, an open field using a an ancient burial ground. Tacna is the last city before the (long disputed) border with Chile and home to some of the most proud Peruvians you will find.

The South Coast is also home to the National park of Paracas, holding the famous Ballestas islands. At these islands, home to many endemic bird species and sea liones, even are home to pinguins and even whales can be spotted her during some time of the year.

The weather is relatively hot and very dry all year round. Located in the desert, it enjoys a mild desert climate with lots of sun, and colder nights. The summer months, from December through March are the hottest months and the months when the beaches south of Lima are most popular. As the waters have a current coming from the south, the temperatures are not that high and swimming is only nice during the summer months.

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Also want to read about the weather in Machu Picchu?