Less than three hours by bus from Lima, the old port town of PISCO has long been a rewarding stop en route to Nasca, Arequipa or the frontier with Chile. Along with the neighbouring town, Paracas – 12km away and previously known as El Chaco – Pisco makes a handy base for visiting the Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands and the well-preserved Inca coastal outpost of Tambo Colorado. The two towns, with good facilities and plenty of tour operators, restaurants and hostels, are also decent stop-offs before heading up into the Andes: you can take roads from here to Huancavelica and Huancayo, as well as to Ayacucho and Cusco.
The region’s past has been far from uneventful. An earthquake hit in the evening of August 15, 2007, and, measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale, devastated Pisco and the entire surrounding area – and it’s still reeling from the aftermath. Hundreds of people were killed and over 15,000 made homeless. Pisco, which remains one of the most active seismic spots on earth, is still complaining that little of the promises made for rapid redevelopment have thus far materialized.