Travel Notes
Desert and ocean

Paracas – Where desert and ocean meet in Peru

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After a few days spent in the Andes, and after all the hiking and soroche – the altitude sickness – we were ready and so happy to go back to sea level.

After visit Machu Picchu and spending a few more days in Cuzco, we went back to Lima and from there we got another bus to Paracas, a small town by the sea in the Ica region.

Just like many other small towns in South America, there isn’t too much to do here, but it’s worth a visit to soak up in the local life and relaxed beach vibe. Paracas has also become increasingly popular among backpackers and for this reason, it’s the perfect spot to meet other travellers to share tips and stories and spend some time together.

The hostel dog

Things to see and do in Paracas:

  • Visit the Ballestas Islands
  • Rent a bike or a buggy to drive through the Paracas National Reserve
  • Walk on the beach to experience local life.

We didn’t know much about Paracas before arriving there and we ended up there just because we need to stop somewhere on our way to Huacachina, but we didn’t want to stop in Ica itself. On our first day there, we discovered about the tours to Ballestas Islands.

The second you get off the bus you’ll find lots of people offering you a “special deal” for your tour, although the price is the same for all of them. We paid 30 soles for our tour (approximately €8). You will also need to buy separately a ticket to enter the natural reserve, which costs 15 soles. We decided to buy a combined ticket that included both the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve for 21 soles.

The tour to the Ballestas Islands was good, but not incredible. The islands are home to Humboldt penguins, sea lions and so many types of birds. However, while the landscape was breathtaking, the boat we took was so full: there were approximately 40 or 50 people on it, standing up with huge cameras to take photos and videos of the animals and the rock formations.

Here is a tip to save money and have a better experience. If you walk along the beach you can negotiate with local people who will give you a “lift” on their boat. You’ll get this for a much cheaper price, there will be maximum 5 or 6 people on your boat and you’ll get a chance to interact with local people. We saw two backpackers doing this while we were on our tour and we regretted not thinking about it before.

The next day, we rented a buggy for 100 soles for 2.5 hours (approximately €27) and visited the Paracas National Reserve. We enjoyed this place much more than the islands. The Reserve protects a desert and marine ecosystems and you can find some archaeological remains inside. If you are lucky enough and go at the right time of the year, you’ll be able to spot some whales from here. If you want to buy a ticket to the Paracas National Reserve only, it will cost you 11 soles.

After driving for a while, you’ll reach this point with a breathtaking view of the desert meeting the ocean.

If you aren’t travelling on a budget, some companies organise a pop up tent sunset pic nic in the desert, that seems to be very nice.

Finally, to really enjoy local live, we kept walking on the beach and through the town. Even though Paracas isn’t the prettiest of town, it’s nice to discover all the corners of this village and interact with people from the place.

How to get there

From Lima you have 2 options. You can get Cruz Del Sur or Peru Bus.

Cruz del Sur costs approximately 19 dollars and it takes 3 hours to get there. Peru Bus costs around 16 dollars, but it takes a little over 4 hours, so we decided to get Cruz del Sur.

Where to eat

None of the places we ate in Paracas particularly excited us, but we had dinner in a place called Punto Restobar and then we had a quick snack and a drink at a place called Destinos, which had several kinds of local beers and also live music.

Two bottles of Peruvian beer on ta table and musicians playing in the background

In Paracas we decided to cook most of out meals, as there weren’t too many people in the hostel we were staying in.

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