Long known as ‘The Poor Man’s Galapagos,’ Paracas is a desert destination famous for a UNESCO World Heritage designated marine reserve, sand-boarding, and award-winning wines.
Paracas is a Peruvian favourite, a coastal fishing village that has become a popular beach resort in recent years. While it is most famous for its proximity to the teeming wildlife of the Islas Ballestas, there is certainly more to explore in the area, including delicious seafood, wine tastings and opportunities for adventure sport.
Kick back and relax in this peaceful village, enjoy the quiet beaches, taste some local Pisco, and of course, be sure to book a trip to see penguins, sea lions, and dolphins in the Islas Ballestas.
The quaint village of Paracas is located on the Paracas Peninsula, which in turn is part of the Paracas National Reserve in the Pisco Province. This marine reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. This is a dry desert region, surrounded by otherworldly sand dunes, and lined with a rugged coast and red sand beaches.
Paracas has relatively stable temperatures all year round. As a desert climate, it is warm and sunny most days, and chillier in the evening. Rain is rare (and snow rarer still), and the climate is temperate, pleasant, and dry. If you want the absolute warmest holiday possible in Paracas, you should consider visiting during the hottest months, which are February (highs tend to reach 29 °C during the day, and cool down to 20.1 °C at night) and March, followed by January.
Board a boat to the Islas Ballestas
Most tourists come to Paracas to take a boat trip out to the Islas Ballestas, often referred to as the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’ owing to the sheer volume of wildlife found on these islands. Coated in thick layers of guano, Islas Ballestas is home to barking sea lions, penguins, dolphins, and thousands and thousands of birds. While you cannot alight from the boat and set foot on the islands, your speedboat will slowly navigate to ideal viewpoints.
View the famous 50 metre candelabra geoglyph
On your way to the Islas Ballestas, your boat will pass by a bizarre and wondrous geogylph etched into the side of a mountain. Thought to be related to the Nazca Lines 100 miles away, the origin and significance of this 50 metre candelabra is a mystery.
Journey to the protected wildlife reservation
The small village of Paracas is located a short 10 minute drive from the Paracas Wildlife Reserve. Best visited on a tour with a professional guide, you will visit some remarkable landscapes, including red and yellow sand dunes, achingly blue sea, and the craggy coastline. The flamingo colonies are a beloved photo opportunity, as are the remnants of La Catedral arch (sadly damaged in a 2007 earthquake, Playa Roja (the red beach), and the pretty Bahia Lagunillas.
Spend the afternoon at Bahia Lagunillas
Fancy a little more time at Bahia Lagunillas? You can also visit this pretty beach and fishing harbour on your own. Known for the fresh seafood restaurants that line the beach, this is a great place to kick back and unwind as you watch pelicans dive into the sea and fishermen unload their catch.
Taste wine and Pisco on an Ica wine tour
The Ica region is just one hour from Paracas, and is known for its plentiful wineries and vineyards. Ica produces Peruvian red wine, and even more importantly, the grapes for the beloved national brandy, Pisco. Tours usually visit 3 vineyards, and often include lunch and tasting.
Defy gravity on a dune buggy and sand boarding trip in Huacachina
The Ica region’s massive sand dunes are a favourite with adrenalin junkies and travellers who want to walk – or board – on the wild side. Sure, you may have tried snowboarding, but why not try doing the same on sand? Whether you manage to stay upright or end up tumbling down on your rear end, this is a riotous and thrilling experience that will have you grinning ear to ear. Huacachina is approximately an hour away from Paracas, and is easily reachable by bus, or on an organised tour.
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