Why travel to Paracas
The beautiful Paracas Bay, on the southern coast of Peru, is a short drive from the city of Ica and easily accessible from Lima. The region boasts a breathtaking seaside, sunny climate, and varied marine wildlife that you can admire in the National Reserve of Paracas or during a boat tour around the Ballestas Islands. For a relaxing beach getaway with plenty of sunbathing, Paracas cannot be beat.
Just 9 miles (15 km) from the port of Pisco is the Paracas Natural Reserve, which covers more than 335,000 hectares of land and water. The reserve is home to one of the largest sea lion colonies on earth as well as an immense concentration of marine birds (over 220 species) and other wildlife.
The Ballestas Islands, an oasis of rocky islands located just offshore of Paracas Bay, are characterized by natural arches and caves that are home to hundreds of sea lions and unique bird species. Bird lovers will have the opportunity to observe and admire rare species such as the Humboldt penguin, Peruvian booby, guanay cormorant, Inca tern, and seaside cinclodes, a land bird.
A Paracas tour also includes attractions for history and archaeology lovers. The Paracas culture arrived to Paracas Bay as early as 1,300 BC and established fishing villages that still exist today. The Inca Empire conquered the region in the 16th century but the Paracas people left behind some of Peru's most advanced weavings, ceramics, stone carvings, and metal jewelry, as well as eerie cemeteries in the desert.
What to do in Paracas
Ballestas Islands Tour. Paracas is known for its extraordinary marine wild life and wonderful natural setting. Enjoy a boat tour, lasting approximately 2 hours, around the Ballestas Islands, where you can observe countless species, including the world’s largest sea lion colony. You can also view seals, penguins, turtles, albatrosses, pelicans, and seagulls.
Candelabro, a well-known geoglyph, is carved into the coastal sand dunes and is visible from the boat when you take a tour to Ballestas Islands. Various theories exist as to its purpose. Some claim that it marked a treasure hiding place for soldiers fighting for independence from Spain, others believe that the drawing is part of the Nazca series.
Paracas National Reserve. If your tour to Islas Ballestas doesn't satisfy your yearning to see marine critters, then a trip to the spectacular National Reserve of Paracas might do the trick. Named after the blustering paracas (sandstorms) that buffet the west coast each winter, the Paracas National Reserve is Peru's first park for marine conservation. This stunning coastal reserve, located on a peninsula south of Pisco, is chock full of pelicans, condors, and red-and-white flamingos; the latter are said to have inspired the red-and-white independence flag designed by General San Martín when he liberated Peru.
On shore you can't miss the sound (or the smell) of hundreds of sea lions that congregate here, while in the water you might spot penguins, sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays. Walking along the thin dirt tracks that crisscross the peninsula, you’ll pass beautiful sheltered lagoons, rugged cliffs dotted with caves, and small fishing villages. You can easily stroll from the bay to the Julio C. Tello Museum, and on to the fishing village of Lagunilla farther across the neck of the peninsula.
Travelers looking for still more adventure can continue their hike toward Mirador de Lobos (Sea Lion Lookout) located at Punta El Arquillo. Carved into the highest point in the cliffs above Paracas Bay you will see the grandiose Candelabra of the Andes, large enough to be seen from 12 miles out to sea.
When to visit Paracas
The region can be visited year-round but the best time to visit Paracas is in the summer months from December to March, when the days are hot and the sky is clear. Among Peruvians, summer is also a popular time to enjoy a vacation on the Paracas seaside.
Depending on the season, you might see different species of birds or aquatic animals. For example, penguins are best seen from April to November. Sea lions are here all year round in the hundreds, so don’t worry about missing them!
We had 12 great days traveling in Peru, due to perfect organization by Peru For Less. Our travel advisor Kelly arranged 9 different hotels; transportation by plane, bus, train and car to the various locations and some tours in various locales. We were always met promptly by friendly and informative agents at each destination.
Dexter and Shelley Hancock (Alabama, USA) traveled to Paracas in February 2011
Our trip to Peru was fantastic. We had a marvelous time and did not want to come home. What a beautiful country with friendly people and a unique culture. All our tour guides were tremendous and our drivers were all punctual. We felt spoiled. Our hotels were all great and some were fabulous.
Bob & Barb Baldwin (USA) traveled to Paracas in February 2011
Our 20-day Peru holiday was an epic adventure of a lifetime and it has taken this long for us to recover and resume our normal lives. Our trip was fantastic and we found Peru to be an absolutely amazing country of so much natural beauty.
Winnie Wong (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) traveled to Paracas in October 2011
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Top Pick Paracas Hotel
Hotel Libertador Paracas 5*
Avenida Paracas 173, Paracas
Soak up the luxury and splendor of the lavish Hotel Libertador in Paracas, one of the first “It” hotels on the glittering Peruvian coast. Leave your bags with the porter and your cares at the door. Inside the plush, aquatic-hued Libertador, a soothing, slowed-down world of total relaxation awaits. Ideally located on the Paracas Bay in front of the Natural Reserve of Paracas, Hotel Libertador Paracas is one of the Peruvian coast’s most spectacular deluxe hotels. Five-star amenities and highly personalized service are combined to make this resort-spa a blissful haven of sensual delight.
Restaurant Internet Swimming Pool
Hotel Libertador Paracas Photos & Info »
Doubletree Hilton Paracas 4*
Lote 30-34 Urbanizacion Santo Domingo, Paracas
The Doubletree Paracas Resort by Hilton Peru, which opened in March 2009, is a luxury resort that allows visitors to take advantage of comfortable and relaxing accommodations surrounded by stunning views, while they explore the natural splendor and archaeological wonders of Paracas Bay. The spacious suites are spread throughout the 2-story hotel, and feature private terraces with views of the bay or the hotel's gardens. The two-room suites offer a variety of amenities for those accustomed to the best international hotels. On your Peru vacation, let yourself be enchanted by the magnificent service and 8,000 square foot swimming pool with views of Paracas Bay.
Restaurant Room Service Laundry Service Parking Internet Swimming Pool Spa Gift Shop
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La Hacienda Bahia Paracas 3*
Urb. Santo Domingo Lote 25, Paracas
This understated hotel offers comfortable accommodations in the spectacular seaside setting of Paracas, a town just a few short hours from Lima and on the way to the Nazca Lines. Spacious guestrooms, suites, and bungalows are all tastefully decorated in a minimalist style combining the earthy tones of polished wood and brick tiling with white-washed walls and contemporary furniture. Each room has a bathtub and a private terrace, while the hotel's grounds boast a luxurious spa, swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
Restaurant Parking Internet Swimming Pool Spa Gift Shop Gym
La Hacienda Bahia Paracas Photos & Info »
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