When to Go

Although the weather in southern Peru is fairly even and arid throughout the year, the best time to visit is in summer and autumn, November through April, when the rivers are ripe for rafting and kayaking and harvest festivals spice up the small towns. Around Christmas, Carnival, the grape harvest, Easter, the mid-June religious festivals, and Peru's independence day in July, hotels are often booked to capacity.

Festivals

Ica is a good place to experience local culture in celebratory mood, with several festivals during the year, including Carnival in February, Ica Week in mid-June, and the Ica Tourist Festival in late September. The Fiesta de la Vendimia, at the start of the grape-pressing season, is a highlight.

El Señor de Luren. On the third Monday in October and again at Easter, Ica's streets are lined with carpets of flowers for an overnight pilgrimage, in which thousands of the faithful go in procession with a highly illuminated image of "El Señor" (Christ), said to have come ashore here after a shipwreck in the mid-16th century. Ica, Ica.

Fiesta de la Vendimia. In early March, the grape harvest heralds this weeklong celebration of the local wine industry, with winery visits, grape-stomping contests, an agricultural fair, entertainment, a beauty pageant, a parade, and fireworks. Ica, Ica. www.facebook.com/vendimiadeica.pe.

Fiesta de Verano Negro. Afro-Peruvian culture is the focus of this celebration in Chincha in late February, with music, dance, food, and other events. Look for El Alcatraz dance, in which a male dancer tries to set his partner's cloth tail on fire with a candle. Chincha, Ica.

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