Languishing at the top of a cliff, CHINCHA is a relatively rich oasis that appears after a stretch of almost Saharan landscape – and a mightily impressive sand dune. A busy little coastal centre renowned for its cheap wines and variety of piscos (brandies), Chincha is a strong cultural hub for Afro-Peruvian culture; the town was developed during the early colonial period when Africans (mainly from Guinea) were brought over as slaves to work on the cotton plantations. Chincha is dominated by two roads running north to south; most hotels and restaurants are on the main Panamericana itself.
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The main local festival – National Pisco Day – takes place on the third Saturday in September, when things really get lively along this section of the coast. The area is also well-known for its traditionally rhythmic music and annual, athletic dance festival, Verano Negro, which happens at the end of February. In November, the Festival de Danzas Negras is an excellent spectacle, a vibrant dance event based on Afro-Peruvian traditions; in both cases the celebrations are liveliest in El Carmen, 10km southeast of Chincha.