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Altitude: 5 meters (16 ft) Population: 82,000 Phone Code: 053

This part of Peru’s southern coast has been inhabited for over 13,000 years. Today, this area is dominated by the city Ilo. Despite being a major port, it also has a number of interesting facets. The old part of the city has lots of Colonial and Republican-era architecture. Templo de San Gerónimo, a wooden church built in 1871, features a baptismal font built of seashells and murals of plants and angels (Monday-Saturday 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Plaza de Armas).

Glorieta José Gálvez is a viewpoint with vistas of the port and sea. The Museo Naval has exhibits about the Guerra del Pacífico against Chile and manuscripts of Almirante Miguel Grau, as well as old naval instruments. Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Capitanía de la Glorieta. Tel: 761-844/952-834-796, E-mail:

There are boat tours from Ilo to Reserva de Punta de Coles, a 180-hectare (445-ac) national park that is home to 3,500-4,000 sea lions, as well as pelicans, boobies, cormorants, gulls and other wildlife. Fine-sand beaches stretch along the coast. Located at the mouth of the river two kilometers (1.2 mi) to the north is Boca del RĂ­o with two isles off, beyond which is Playa Conchuela. Other beaches in this area are: Pocoma (28 km/17 mi), Jaboncillo (31 km/19 mi), Waikiki (33 km/20 mi) and Platanal (37 km/23 mi).

Beaches to the south of Ilo include Puerto Inglés (2 km/1.2 mi), the six-kilometer (4-mi) long Pozo de Lisas (4 km/2.5 mi), Boliviamar, which is also home to Bolivia’s maritime port concession (11 km/7 mi) and Tronco de Oro, a good place for surfing and camping (29 km/18 mi).

On the way to Ilo is the El Algarrobal district, renowned for its olives. In this area is the Museo de Sitio Chiribaya, an archaeological museum displaying ceramics, textiles, mummified dogs and other artifacts from the Chiribaya culture (900-1350 AD). Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, holidays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Av. El Algarrobal s/n. Tel: 837-103 / 837-101, E-mail: Entry: Foreigner: adult $6, student $3.75; Nationals: adults $3.75, university student $2, children.

Also in the Algarrobal sector is Hacienda Chiribaya, birthplace of Independence hero Mariscal Domingo Nieto.

Ilo has a full slate of services, tour operators, hotels and restaurants. Camping is possible at Punta Icuy, Playas de Waikiki and Playas de Tacahuay. The port is 100 kilometers (61 mi) southwest of Moquegua. From Moquegua, minivans and shared taxis to Ilo depart from Avenida Ejército (frequent, 1 hr, $3.75). Cruz del Sur and Flores has Lima-Ilo bus service.


Other places nearby Ilo: Huacachina Oasis, Ica, Pisco, Paracas, Nasca, Torata, Tacna, Moquegua and The Nasca Lines.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

21 Jun 2012

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