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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.
One of the best places for pisco and local wine (vino dulce) is at the 100-year-old Bodega Naldo Navarro in Sunampe, 1km north of Chincha, offering free guided tours and samples. For festivals, the third Saturday in September is National Pisco Day, 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 takes place at the end of February. In November, the Festival de Danzas Negras is an excellent event, a vibrant dance event based on Afro-Peruvian traditions; in both cases the celebrations are liveliest in El Carmen, 10km southeast of Chincha.
Although little-visited, the Chincha area has a number of ruins, with numerous huacas lying scattered about the oasis. Dominated in pre-Inca days by the Cuismancu (or Chincha) state, activity focused around what were probably ceremonial pyramids. One of these, the majestic Huaca Centinela, also known as the little city of Chinchacamac, sits in the valley below the Chincha tableland and the ocean, around thirty minutes' walk from the Hotel El Sausal turning, some 8km off the Panamericana.