Six brilliant reasons to include Paracas on your Peruvian adventure
Paracas is a coastal resort just a few hours south of Lima in Peru. Its known for its beaches, its national park and it is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands which are home to many species of wildlife including the Humbolt Penguin. We found ourselves here after spending a few days in Lima and were surprised at how much of a good vibe the little town had. In the blog post below we’ve mentioned 6 amazing things to do when visiting Paracas.
How did we get to Paracas?
After spending a few nights in Lima we caught the Cruz del Sur bus direct to Paracas. The journey follows the coastline South and takes around four hours. The cost of the bus was 70 PEN per person. There are a couple of Cruz del Sur bus stations in Lima but the one for Paracas is the Javier Prado bus station which is on the main Metropolitano bus line.
When you arrive in Paracas the Cruz del Sur bus station is just off the main Pan American Highway however its only a 10 min walk from there into town and all the bars, restaurants and hotels. There are taxi’s and tuk tuks available but we found walking was the best way for us. Paracas is quite a small town and we reckoned you can walk from one end to the other in about 15 – 20 mins. After spending a hazy few days in Lima it was nice to see and feel the sun and be close to the sea.
Where did we stay in Paracas?
Like many other places on the travel trail there is a selection of accommodation, here in Paracas, ranging from some basic hostels with dorms to more high end hotels such as the Hilton or Radisson groups. We found a lovely little hotel just one street away from the seafront called Aquamarine Hotel. The hotel was clean, it had a great hot shower and the bed was comfy. The only thing it didn’t have was free breakfast but we found a little cafe up on the main road that had an extensive breakfast menu and a cappuccino machine which was just perfect.
6 things we did when visiting Paracas?
Hired Bikes and cycled to the Paracas National Reserve
The national reserve sits just south of the town and is a vast area of sandy wilderness to explore. We hired our bikes from one of the tour operators near our hotel and the bikes, per day, cost 25 PEN. Once we had checked the bikes over and made sure things such as brakes and gears were working off we went. The tour operator had supplied us with a map and a route to follow but first we had to get to the park entrance and pay the fee, which is 11 PEN per person. After that we were off on a very bumpy track to the first point of interest. Playa Supay was the first stop and we left the bikes and ventured down onto the beach. Its rumoured that dolphins are often in this bay but sadly we didn’t see them when we visited. Next stop was La Catedral which is a rock formation which used to be more impressive with an arch but this has now gone. A superb variety of sea birds were nesting in the cliffs. Back on the route again we visited more beaches and made our way round to Lagunillas where it was time for lunch and oh what a lunch that was. The tastiest, freshest seafood you could imagine. Back on the bikes again and it was time for the last stretch of the trail but not before the tour company had to come with a new bike for Chris as his tyre was flat as a pancake. The last part of the route takes you to the centre of interpretation or the museum but because we had to wait for a new bike we just missed this as it was closed when we passed. Our final stop on the bike was just as we got back into town and we could see the flock of flamingos in the laguna. We made our way to the waters edge to watch these gorgeous birds in the water. All in all this was a great excursion. The whole loop is about 44km and the terrain is fairly flat with only a few uphill sections but they’re easy to navigate if you have decent gears.
Explore the town
The quint little town is lovely. With 3 piers, mostly for tourist boats, and a whole bay filled with fishing boats of all sizes and colours, the place is a feast for the eyes. You can have a wander onto the piers for the price of three PEN and watch the fishermen come back with the catch of the day and if you’re lucky you’ll spot some dolphins swimming about the boats. There are restaurants, cafe’s, artisan shops all lining the promenade selling all sorts of souvenirs. There are tour companies offering trips to the islands, buggy rides on the sand dunes and a host of other activities on and off the water. Its a perfect little town to sit, with a coffee and just watch the world go by.
Took a boat trip to Isla Blanca
Our original intention was to take a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas which are still part of the Paracas National Park but the weather and the wind meant that the islands were closed on the days we were there so we had to take a tour to the alternative island, Isla Blanca. We were promised the same species of wildlife and we weren’t disappointed. The boat tour left at 8am and we were on a large boat with around 20 people. Life jackets were provided and our guide spoke both Spanish and English so we could understand what was going on. The journey to the island took about one hour and it was a beautiful sunny day so being out on the water was fabulous. When we reached the island the boat captain did a circuit quite close to the cliffs so that everyone on the boat got a chance to see the birds and sea lions. Here’s what we saw; Sealions, Galapagos Pelicans, Galapagos Boobies, Humbolt Penguins, many types of gulls and the highlight of the trip was a pod of dolphins in the bay when we returned. A really enjoyable boat trip.
Sample the great local seafood
One of the great things about having a thriving fishing industry is that the seafood, in the local restaurants, should be fresh and tasty and we can testify that it was. We had tried cerviche whilst in Lima but Chris had ceviche for lunch on our cycle trip and it was delicous. I had prawns that had an amazing flavour and Chris had a fantastic local fish soup Parihuela which, apart from the rubbery limpits, was delicious. Its such a pleasure to have seafood that has just come off a boat and the freshest that it can be.
Viewed the Candelabra
Our first stop, on the boat trip, was at the Candelabro which is a well known pre-historic geoglyph. The local people don’t really know what it is for and why it is there and have several theories from aliens to pirates but its an impressive sand sculpture all the same. The purpose of the Candelabra’s creation is also unknown. It is thought most likely to represent the trident, a lightning rod of the god Viracocha. He was long an important figure in indigenous mythology throughout South America, both before and during the time of the incas. Even though much of the surrounding area is sand this sculpture never disappears and remains constant.
Visit a Pisco & Wine Bodega
Peru’s most famous drink is the Pisco Sour and whilst we were in the region we thought it would be a good idea to visit a Pisco factory. In the nearby town of Ica there is the Bodega Vista Alegre who offer tours of their vineyard with a tasting session at the end. Who could refuse that. The tours start at 9am and we arrived in time for the 10am tour (its 5pm somewhere right?). The tours cost 15 PEN per person. The guide spoke perfect English and we were on the tour with a Spanish family. The guide first took us to the fields to show us the next crop of grapes just starting to emerge and then we went to the press and the distillation area. Then onto the bottling area before heading to the bar for sampling. The tour was really interesting and the guide explained the process of making the Pisco and the rules and regulations that they have to adhere to in order to call it genuine Pisco. The tasting session was good with each of the wines they produced being sampled and the tour finished with a cocktail made form their very own Pisco. The cocktail was a Captain Chilcano which was made with Pisco & Vermouth. We much prefer just a straight forward Pisco Sour but we really enjoyed the tour.
This part of Peru is lovely and it was a good place to stop to break the journey up on our way to Cusco. Being by the sea is always a pleasure and this town really surprised us at how lovely it was. There’s plenty to do for a few days even kite surfing, dune buggy riding and other extreme activities that we didn’t try. Something for everyone.
Booking resources for your stay in Paracas
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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