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Paracas National Reserve

  • Paracas, Ica Region, Peru

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 31 March, 2024

The coast around the little resort town of Paracas, including this 335,000-hectare reserve, is some of the most impressive in tropical South America: dune-rolling desert runs to caramel and blood-red crags that crumble over sheer cliffs. Powerful Pacific waves pound endless empty beaches of honey-yellow and coral-red sands.

Much of the region is protected: for its natural beauty, for the hundreds of barely-explored archaeological sites and for the abundant sea life. Sealions and Humboldt penguins bask on the sand. Just offshore, hundreds of thousands of Guanay Cormorants, boobies, terns and fur seals live on the Ballestas archipelago – a string of islands are scattered like desert rocks thrown into the blue of the Pacific.

While you’re there

The kite surfing here is excellent, with consistent winds 300 days a year. It’s a good place for beginners or if you’ve never tried it, with long stretches of relatively flat, shallow water close to the beach.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Buses leave from Ica to Paracas throughout the day, taking 90 minutes (or you can rent a car in Ica airport). Paracas has plenty of accommodation options and myriad tour agencies offering boat trips to the Ballestas Islands. You will have no trouble finding a ticket but book the night before you leave as boats generally depart at 8am.

Most boat rides pass by the Paracas National Reserve, but to see it properly you’ll need to rent a bike or an ATV, or take a tour.

When to do it

Paracas is on the edge of the Atacama desert – one of the driest most climatically stable places on Earth. Expect sun and stars all year round. There is little chance of rain ever. The wettest month, February gets less than 2cm on average. Temperatures vary by only two or three degrees summer (Sep-Mar) to winter (April-Aug).

There are kite-surfable winds all year round. They are 99% reliable September to March dropping to around 60% May to July. Boat trips run throughout the year.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Full Day Paracas Ica and Huacachina from Lima All Included

  • Lima

We will leave the traditional way of visiting sculptures, old houses, city, to live an experience in nature. We will have a day full of landscapes, ecosystem, marine fauna and adrenaline that are not lived in other places of the capital. It will be very important to relax and forget about the classic to enter a panorama of full fun. The best thing is that your camera will be filled with funny photos and videos and we will interact with all the people who go with us, we will make new friends. You cannot miss the opportunity to know the south of Lima and visit the great Oasis of America and the great Ballestas Islands. This tour has it all!! - Enjoy the great marine view that Paracas offers - Forget everything by sliding on the sandboard boards - Try more than 15 types of Peruvian liquors - Dare to live this beautiful adventure

Price $130

Min age 4

Rating 4.53 / 5 [524 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Paracas, Ica and Huacachina with Buggies and Sandboard (From Lima)

  • Lima

Embark on an unforgettable adventure through the southern coast of Peru with our tour that combines three unique experiences. Discover the natural wonders of the Ballestas Islands, a paradise of marine life and exotic birds in their natural habitat. Sail between impressive cliffs and see sea lions, penguins and cormorants in their wild surroundings. Then, immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Huacachina Oasis, an oasis in the middle of the desert that will leave you breathless. Discover the golden sand dunes and feel the thrill of an exciting buggy ride through the sand hills. If you are an adventure lover, you can even try sandboarding in the dunes and admire the stunning sunset! A day full of natural beauty, adventure and culinary exquisiteness awaits you on this exciting tour that combines the Ballestas Islands, the Huacachina Oasis and the Nietto Winery. Don't miss it!

Price $120

Min age 0

Rating 4.78 / 5 [282 ratings]

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Full day in Paracas Ica and Huacachina from Lima (From Lima)

  • Lima

Embark on an unforgettable adventure through the southern coast of Peru with our tour that combines three unique experiences. Discover the natural wonders of the Ballestas Islands, a paradise of marine life and exotic birds in their natural habitat. Sail between impressive cliffs and see sea lions, penguins and cormorants in their wild surroundings. Then, immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Huacachina Oasis , an oasis in the middle of the desert that will leave you breathless. Discover the golden sand dunes and feel the thrill of an exciting buggy ride through the sand hills. If you are an adventure lover, you can even try sandboarding in the dunes and admire the stunning sunset! A day full of natural beauty, adventure and culinary exquisiteness awaits you on this exciting tour that combines the Ballestas Islands, the Huacachina Oasis and the Nietto Winery. Do not miss it!

Price $118

Min age 0

Rating 4.94 / 5 [211 ratings]

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Full Day Tour from Lima: Ballestas Islands and Paracas Reserve

  • Lima

Wondering what to do in Lima, escape the city day on this tour from Lima. This tour allows you to escape the city to the beach of Paracas, where you’ll boat out to the Ballestas Islands, known as Peru’s Galapagos, and visit the Paracas National Reserve, in just 1 single day. This full-day tour includes hotel pick up and transportation from Lima to the islands by coach. This tour is good for couples, good for solo travelers, and good for big groups. Please make sure to review the itinerary properly.

Price $129

Min age 0

Rating 4.73 / 5 [182 ratings]

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2 Day Tour from Lima: Paracas, Huacachina, and Pisco Vineyard

  • Lima

Wondering what to do in Lima, this is a 2-day tour from Lima visiting the Pacific beach town of Paracas as well as the desert oasis of Huacachina. Enjoy seeing wildlife in their natural environment to a thrilling desert adventure with a professional guide. For this tour the pick up from your Lima hotel or hostel is included, as well as drop off. This tour is good for couples, good for solo travelers and good for big groups. The perfect 2-days escape from the city of Lima!

Price $149

Min age 0

Rating 4.72 / 5 [151 ratings]

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