Paracas is a town on Peru’s west coast, and serves as a base for exploring the nearby Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Park. It was only a one hour bus ride from Huacachina to get there. After a month of having good hotel experiences, our luck came to an end in Paracas. We ended up at 3 different hotels in the two nights we were there. We also experienced a number instances of folks trying to rip us off (e.g. a hotel wanting to charge us more than the quoted price, a store clerk giving us the wrong change back, the national park attendant insisting we pay for another entry even though we had our tickets for that day in hand). This, combined with some other experiences there, left us with a bad impression of the place, and the certainty that if I’m ever back in Peru, I’ll skip Paracas. Our interactions and impression of Peruvians had all been positive until Paracas.

That aside, I’ll focus on the positive aspects of our time in Paracas. We arrived in time to watch the sunset and enjoy dinner on the beach.

in paracas

a sunset makes even the dirtiest of beaches look stunning

We spent the next day cycling through Paracas National Park. There are lots of bikes for rent in town for about $6/day, although the bikes are pretty rusty and beat up. After testing out a few, we found a couple that at least had working breaks and a few functioning gears. The shop gave us a map showing the common loop bicycles take, with the points of interest along the way.

cathedral rock

watching the turkey vultures

playa yumaque

stunning cliffs

we enjoyed a combination of desert and beach vistas riding through the park

at playa roja (red beach, aptly named for its red sand)

playa la mina

playa la mina

We ended up cycling 27 miles, which took us 7 hours with all the stops we made (including a 1 hour stop for lunch at one of the restaurants in the park).

We started the next day with a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands (coined the poor man’s Galápagos Islands). People aren’t allowed to set foot on the islands, so the islands are experienced by boat.

On the way to the islands, the boat stops at the Candelabra, a prehistoric geoglyph estimated to have been carved into the rock around 200 BC. It is roughly 600 feet tall.

the candelabra

At the islands, we had the chance to see many sea lions, penguins, and countless birds. As we approached the islands, we were escorted by a pair of pelicans flying alongside our boat.

pelican escorts

ballestas islands


cool rock formations, all covered with birds

The sea lions were my favorite. Our guide informed us that the females were in the final stages of their 11 month pregnancies and would be giving birth soon.

the adorable sea lions

this one on top was waving his flipper at us

maternity beach, the one flat place on the islands where the sea lions go to have their babies

ballestas islands

as we left the islands, a flock of birds followed alongside the boat

I always enjoy being out on a boat. It brings back some of my favorite childhood memories, taking the boat out to Saylorville Lake and going down the Ozarks for summer vacation.

We thoroughly enjoyed our boat tour of the islands. Although I was initially disappointed upon discovering you can’t walk on the islands, I now appreciate how this has kept the islands as a safe place in which its creatures thrive.

After visiting the Ballestas Islands, we rented a dune buggy and explored Paracas National Park again. Later that afternoon, we boarded a bus to Lima…where we will catch our flight back home.

dune buggy time!

in Huacachina they don’t let the tourists drive the buggies, so Jay was excited to drive one now

a stop at playa roja

2 responses to “Paracas

  1. Glad you were able to enjoy your last leg of your trip after a “rough” start. More beautiful scenery. Have a safe trip home.

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