Paracas is a small port town, 270 km from Lima, the capital of Peru. It means "sand rain" in the indigenous language Quechua. It is the place to stay if planning to visit the Paracas National Reserve and/or Islas Ballestas. It is also one of the major beach resorts of Peru.
Unfortunately we visited Paracas in winter so it was cloudy and foggy (not the best time to visit it). We decided to visit the Paracas National Reserve and skip the Islas Ballestas due to 2 reasons: the weather and the fact that you can't go into the islands - you can just see the animals from the boats. Since we had already experienced a lot of wildlife during this trip and specially a lot of sea animals (see our post about about Peninsula Valdés and Punta Tombo in Argentina) we decided to visit the National Reserve.
The Paracas National Reserve, established in 1975 (the oldest marine reserve in Peru!), includes miles of coastal waters and its main goal is to preserve the marine ecosystem protecting at the same time the historical cultural heritage mostly related to the indigenous Paracas culture. The reserve is permanent home to many species, particularly birds, but it is also temporary home to other species of wildlife.
We saw hundreds of birds close to the Julio C. Tello Museum, the official museum of the reserve, where we learned about the flora and fauna of the reserve and this region.
We saw flamingos, plovers, sanderlings, sandpipers, gulls, terns and pelicans. We also saw sea lions, but we had to go to Punta Arquillo through an unpaved road to observe them on the rocks below us. Punta Arquillo has awesome landscapes so we stayed for a while taking pictures of the ocean and the rocks (for a while it made us remember Algarve in Portugal).
We had lunch in one of the two restaurants of the Lagunillas beach. It was full of pelicans which offered us great views!
Next stop: Lima (Peru!)
- Main costs: National Reserve of Paracas main entrance (10 Soles/person)
- Save at least half a day to drive around the reserve and explore the museum. It is worth it!