Paracas: Little Galapagos of Peru
Paracas is a great place to find balance. Desert meets ocean. Fancy hotel meets camping trailers. Adventure kite surfer meets lazy beach hopper. With beautiful, luxury hotels tucked away on the bay, and the desert valley reaching for the rolling mountains, you feel immersed in nature. Whether it’s a weekend beach getaway out of Lima or a post Cusco climb to see nature in its element, Paracas has a little something for everyone.
If you are a nature lover and photographer in training and want to get the epitome of untouched nature like Darwin’s Galapagos Islands, Paracas is for you. I dreamed of the Galapagos in high school every night…ok maybe that was me last week. But the Galapagos Islands could leave you waiting for a park pass for over a year.
Our suggestion, give Paracas, Peru a try. This magical place is where desert connects with the crystal blue ocean. A very unique scene. No palm trees, no rainforest meeting Caribbean sea, but a beautiful bay where nature comes to find refuge from harsh Pacific currents. You can find pelicans, flamingos, and a kite surfer or two roaming the National Park beaches. Only a two and half hour drive outside of Lima and passed the town of Pisco, you will find this little resort town.
In the National Park, you can beach hop from one cliff bordered beach to another. But more spectacular is the getting off the main path and taking your car off-roading across the desert park, to the tucked away look outs to search for seals or to watch the fisherman. With dirt roads swiping up and disappearing across the desert valleys and rolling hills, you understand the meaning of Paracas, “sand falling like rain”. Strong winds and mini cyclones pop up and wind currents roll up from the bay onto the beach.
If it gets too windy Paracas day, go off road and get on boat instead of the beach hopping. Take a two-hour boat trip to the Ballistas Islands and see the desert cliffs from a different angle. This jet boat ride might leave you a little wet, so be prepared, but it will take you to the mini Galapagos Islands to see the sea lions and islands covered with hundreds of birds. The boat will also take you by the Nazare Lines. The guides are great and very knowledgeable about the species and history of the place. I hate boat tours where it sounds like you are listening to Snoopy over the PA, but these tours had great speakers and you can hear everything is super clear. Nature lovers sign up for this tour for sure.
To make your trip extra special; try the local Ica wine. I bet you didn’t think wine when you think of Peru, but their white wine is one of the best I have had. And since Paracas is right beside the city that invented Pisco and Pisco Sours you should try and stop by an Hacienda to try a real Pisco sour.
Other must do’s:
Try an syrup drenched ice cone
Watch out for the barking dogs on the street
Be sure to wear a lot of sunscreen
Have dinner at one of the hotel restaurants in Paracas. These South American hotels do not skimp on luxury and after a long day in the sun and sand a juicy burger and cocktail on their patios, beside the pool is a great way to recharge.
So don’t just visit Machu Picchu when you are in Peru. Add a couple more days to your trip to see the coast.