Paracas Peru is a hidden gem! It is a typical destination where upfront you don’t expect a lot however, Paracas Peru is highly recommended to visit because you can do awesome things. After a day in Lima, continue your travel to Paracas Peru. Paracas is located between Lima and Huacachina. Paracas has a national park that will exceed all your expectations. There are also a couple of islands before the coast where you can see wildlife. Do you want to know more about Paracas Peru and why it is worth visiting this underrated gem? Then check out all our tips about Paracas Peru.
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3 things to do in Paracas Peru
Paracas is a small fishing town that nowadays attracts more and more tourists. In Paracas, you can see wildlife. The jungle of Peru is of course the best place to see wildlife, only everyone can’t travel to the amazon. Paracas is also called the small variant of the Galapagos Islands. In addition to the islands off the coast of Paracas, there are many other great things to do. We have mapped the 3 best things to do in Paracas Peru. It isn’t a big list but the 3 things that you can do in Paracas Peru really recommend.
#1 Paracas National Reserve
Many travelers believe that visiting the Ballestas islands is the number one activity in Paracas, we strongly believe that visiting Paracas National Reserve is the highlight in Paracas. Paracas National Reserve is a national protected nature reserve. It has one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.
A lot of birds such as flamingos and pelicans live in this area. You can see million-year-old fossils and the best of all is the landscape itself. Nature is pristine and the various bays with the wild ocean are breathtaking to see. When we were at the National Reserve there was nobody else. It really feels like you are completely away from civilization. It is also very nice to see the ocean go into the desert, if you pay close attention you will see five colors in this.
Paracas National Reserve: tour or independent?
If you want to visit Paracas National Reserve you have two choices: visited it with a tour or do it independently. A tour departs around 11:00 in the morning, so you need to be in Paracas on time to buy your ticket. You can also visit the Ballestas Islands in the morning when you spend the night in Paracas and then visit Paracas National Reserve. You have 1 hour between the two tours to buy some food and drinks. The tour lasts +/- 4 hours and the costs are as follows:
- Combination Ballestas islands & National Reserve National 55 Soles $18 (08:00-15:00)
- Ballestas islands 40 Soles (including the port tax) (08:00-10:00)
- Paracas National Reserve 15 Soles (11:00-15:00)
The advantage of a tour is that everything is seamlessly coordinated and that you can see a lot in one day. Also, the guides explain everything in English.
Tip: if you want to book your tour upfront you can do it via below link.
Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve Day Trip | $38 per person
You can also choose, if you arrive a little later in Paracas, to visit the park independently with a local. It is very simple just ask a local if he wants to show you the park. They are happy the help for a fee and show you around. A condition is that you speak Spanish otherwise you cannot do this.
The advantage is that you have a unique experience, you visit it with a resident of the village and it isn’t as touristy as the normal tour. We went in the afternoon so all tours had already visited the National Reserve, leaving us all alone in the park with our guide. It is highly recommended. Another advantage is that you don’t need to travel that early from Lima which is very pleasant because you can get some sleep after a long flight.
#2 Boat trip to the Ballestas islands.
Visiting the Ballestas Islands is a must when you are in Paracas. It is a nice boat trip where see wildlife at different locations. During this boat trip, you get very close to the animals which makes it a unique experience. It is very nice to see the animals up close in action. Also, you can take very nice close-up photos. During the tour, the guide provides good information so you understand why this part of Peru is so special.
Ballestas islands tour
You can only visit the Ballestas Islands through a tour. In the village, you can book this tour with various tour agencies or at your accommodation. The costs for this are 40 Soles ($12). The tour starts at 8:00 AM and lasts approximately 2 hours.
Tip: if you want to book your tour upfront you can do it via this link.
Lima to Paracas: what time to leave to do the tours on the same day
The answer to this question depends on how you want to organize your day in Paracas, of course. You have two choices: (I) do the National Reserve National on arrival and visit the Ballestas Islands the next morning or (II) spend the night in Paracas and do both tours the next morning.
It is not recommended to leave from Lima in the morning and do both tours the same day, as the journey time is approximately 4 hours. This means you have to leave from Lima at 4:00 in the morning, which is a bit crazy in our opinion.
(II) If you want to spread the activities over two days, you must leave Lima at 6 AM. Upon arrival, you can visit Paracas National Reserve and the next day the Ballestas Islands. This will give you enough time to join the National Reserve tour at 11 AM. If you want to make sure you have a ticket, you can book your ticket via this link.
(I) If you want to sleep a bit longer after a long flight, it is best to sleep in and leave from Lima after breakfast. In the afternoon you can easily visit Paracas National Reserve independently. The condition is that you speak Spanish otherwise it will be very difficult to communicate with a local. If you are unable to do this or prefer to do this organized, you can book the tour via this link.
#3 Eat the best ceviche
If you did the Ballestas tour you are probably hungry. A tip is to walk along the harbor and eat at one of the eateries. We recommend looking where other (locals) are. We tried ceviche for the first time here and till this day it is the best ceviche we have ever eaten. If you don’t like ceviche, you can also try other dishes. The big advantage is that the fish is caught daily, so you have delicious fresh dishes.
Is Paracas worth visiting?
The answer is very simple: Yes, certainly! You only have to stay 1 night in Paracas and this allows you to see special places. If you visit the Paracas National Reserve on the day of arrival and visit the Ballestas Islands the next morning, you can travel to Huachina before lunchtime. If you want to know more about Huacachina you can read it here: best things to do in Huacachina.
How do you get to Paracas?
Assuming you are in Lima, you can buy your bus ticket through Cruz del Sur or at the bus station in Lima. The disadvantage of buying your ticket at the bus station in Lima is that you will not be guaranteed a ticket. We, therefore, recommend that you buy a ticket online through Cruz del Sur. The journey from Lima to Paracas takes approximately 4 hours. You have to show your passport when checking in on the bus.
Where to stay in Paracas?
The two accommodations that we recommend are very popular, so make your reservation in time to ensure yourself of a place. If you book through our links, you can adjust your reservation free of charge up to 3 days in advance. You can book very luxury hotels in Paracas, we don’t recommend this, because it is expensive and because you will do a lot of tours you will not stay that long in the hotel itself.
Paracas Backpackers House
We stayed in Paracas Backpackers House and are very satisfied with it. The rooms are very neat, the people are very kind and they have a nice general area to meet other travelers. Really recommended place to stay!
Price per night from:
$ 8 dorm | $ 19 double room
Kokopelli Hostel Paracas
Another big recommendation is Kokopelli Hostel Paracas. They have a nice swimming pool and have an incredibly relaxed general area. Everything here is very neat and is highly recommended by other travelers. With a 9 on Booking it scores exponentially high, so be on time with booking, because this accommodation is very popular.
Price per night from:
$ 14 dorm | $ 34 double room