If you’re traveling to southern Peru, then Paracas should be your Nº 1 option. This beautiful beach town offers the perfect setting to practice adventure sports and to be fully immersed in the maritime biodiversity of the region. Besides, it holds a visually striking landscape where the dry Peruvian desert perfectly merges with the cold Pacific ocean.
Although Paracas might be a small town, it holds some of the most important and must-visit attractions south of Lima, such as the Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands, which we’ll talk about later on this blog.
Likewise, Paracas was also a strategic location within the Peruvian southern coast since pre-columbian societies have also left a mark in these lands, as seen in the Paracas peninsula.
This beautiful beach town and the Huacachina Oasis are the perfect getaway destination from Lima since they are located a couple of hours apart but definitely quieter and spellbinding. To help you plan the perfect itinerary to southern Peru, here we have gathered 5 of the top things to do in Paracas.
1. Visit the Paracas National Reserve
As you make your way through the Peruvian coast, there’s a special place that you simply can’t overlook. The Paracas National Reserve is the most visually striking protected area of the region since it comprises a natural landscape where the Peruvian desert and the pacific ocean converge harmonically.
Here you’ll be able to explore scenic beaches with vibrant red and yellow colors, as well as spotting hundreds of exotic birds and sea lions. Besides, if you’re planning for a longer adventure in the Peruvian coast then you should definitely stay in Paracas town.
This beach town is known for its adventure sports and for housing a great marine biodiversity in its Peninsula since one of the main attractions here is a group of rock formations and islands home to the largest colony of sea lions and humboldt penguins.
2. Get to know the Ballestas Islands
As we mentioned above, these islands are the most in-demand attraction in Paracas, which we are certain you’ve heard of. If you haven’t, the Ballestas Islands are known as the Peruvian Small Galapagos due to the extensive biodiversity that they house.
They are located in the Paracas peninsula and are easily accessible by boat ride. These rocky islands are also famous for being a natural reservoir of Guano, which is basically bird poop. The Guano was an important resource used as fertilizer since Inca times and was extensively mined between the mid 1800s and early 1900s.
Regarding the wild life in the Ballestas Islands, there are about 100 animal species that made their home in these natural wonders. Here you’ll get to see exotic birds, sea lions, humboldt penguins, and if you’re lucky enough, even bottlenose dolphins.
Besides, on the way to this magical place, there is a mysterious carving in the Paracas peninsula that has intrigued many archeologists. This mysterious geoglyph is called “El Candelabro”, it is 180 meters long and presumably 2,500 years old.
If you wish to visit this natural wonder, you can easily join our Ballestas Islands Boat Tour. Make sure to know everything about it while you’re here!
3. Explore the Tambo Colorado Archeological Site
The Peruvian coast isn’t just about their scenic beaches and exuberant nature since it also comprises several archaeological sites such as Tambo Colorado, an ancient Chincha-Inca structure exceptionally preserved.
If you love history as much as we do, you can’t leave this incredible pre-Columbian construction behind! The Tambo Colorado shows the extensive engineering and architectural knowledge of our ancestors since it has remained nearly intact for centuries in spite of human action and seismic activity.
It was traced back to the 15th century, in 1450 A.D. to be exact, and its original name could have been “Pucallacta” or “Pucahuasi,” two words derived from “Puka,” which means Red in the ancient Quechua Language. The structure was painted with yellow, white and red stripes, a paintwork that’s surprisingly maintained in some walls, hence the name.
If you wish to visit this wonder of the ancient world, then we have the perfect excursion for you! Make sure to know everything about the Tambo Colorado Tour with this guide.
4. Get a quad bike ride through the desert
If you were thinking that Paracas was all about the ‘Peruvian Small Galapagos,’ let us tell you with all respect that you were wrong. The national reserve is the main attraction here, and though many travelers decide to explore it on regular bus tours, there are more exciting ways to do so.
The Quad Bike Tour will let you explore the vast Paracas desert and its surroundings on a 2-hour ride across the natural protected area. The activity will take you to the main attractions of the site, where you’ll get to see marine fosiles, intriguing rock formations, and the most scenic beaches.
Most tour operators start at 10:00 a.m. and it’s not necessary to have a driver’s license or to have any experience. The route is mainly flat and the ATV quad bikes are easy to handle, just make sure to be protected for the sun and carry enough water for the ride.
There are also options to take an afternoon tour through the Paracas National Reserve, so you can watch the sunset from a special spot in the area. If you’d like to spice up your adventure in southern Peru, this is the way to go!
5. Take a day trip to the Huacachina Oasis
If you’re traveling south of Lima, the Huacachina Oasis should be one of the principal attractions you should visit on the way. It is recognized as the only natural oasis of the continent and offers the perfect setting to practice adventure sports, party or just unwind your mind to the desert’s breeze.
The Huacachina Oasis is located in the Ica region and is the perfect getaway destination from the bustling capital of Peru. Although the village is very small, the site comprises a great touristic infrastructure with different accommodation options, restaurants, bars and activities for all tastes.
Likewise, the Ica region is known for being the principal producer of wine and pisco in the country, an opportunity that you can’t miss if you’d like to know some of the oldest wineries of Latin America.
Besides, the sand dunes are as impressive as you can imagine and you can take a dune buggy ride across the entire desert before practicing sandboarding!
Yes, we know, there are so many things to do in Peru that it can take some time to put together the best travel itinerary. But don’t worry, we got you covered! If you’d like to start organizing a special travel plan through our country, we can help you with that.