Paracas is a village located about 3 hours south from Lima. Even though this little coastal town sounds like something boring to visit, you would be surprised. In Paracas, you can choose to go on tour to Ballestas islands and that is quite a unique experience. These islands, not so far from the coast, are bursting with wildlife. At the place where used to be mines, the government decided to stop industrial production to protect local wildlife.
Paracas is a very small village full of hotels and fishermen. One day there is more than ideal.
I started my tour by walking on a beach. Depends on when are you visiting Paracas, you can choose to bathe too. I was visiting in June, which is winter time in Peru. The temperature was around 17 degrees, so I wouldn’t recommend bathing. At the same time, the water looked kinda dirty.
What I consider quite fun here, was all those signs about a tsunami. The warning signs about tsunami were everywhere and even in the streets, you have got another one that would show you which way to go in case of this catastrophe would happen. I actually googled when was it in Paracas, turns out, it happened in 2007, so they have a pretty good reason for these signs.
Anyway, for me was Paracas good place for resting after coming to Peru. I did a lot of walks on a beach. And buy some clothes, as I found out, how cold Peru could be.
Activities in Paracas
If you like golf, there is a great opportunity to play it very close to the beach. Even though it is quite windy, so it must be pretty challenging to play it here.
For water lovers, there is a possibility of kite surfing with the instructor. There is a whole school for it. But for this activity, in particular, I would rather contact the school beforehand and ask which months are good for kiting.
There are not much of other activities, as most of the visitors are here for a tour to Ballestas islands
Food in Paracas
Location on the coast offers Paracas quite a rich variety of food. They might not have here guinea pig or alpacas on the menu, as they do in the mountains, but they have a lot of fishes. If you want to try the national dish – Ceviche – a salad with pickled onions and raw fish, this would be the place. Anyway far away from the coast, it might be a bit dangerous to try this.
Tour to Ballestas Islands
Finally the main attraction. Ballestas Islands are a couple of rocky islands, that looks quite hostile for people. However, there is rich wildlife around. You can see here penguins, cormorants, pelicans, and even sea lions. Now, when tourism in Peru is booming, you can find quite a lot of tours. Problem is to choose the right one.
How to choose a tour to Ballestas Islands
Ever since I stepped out of the bus that got me to Paracas, I was offered tours by different street vendors. Most of them offered a tour to Ballestas islands for about 30 soles. Which is alright price, to be honest. But I guess you can say that I was stupid enough to trust them, that I took it.
The issue here was that I found out, that their “tour organization” consist only leading you to the place, where you can buy actual tickets for tour – which cost about 15 soles. I did have an argument with them about this, but they didn’t want to give money back. But that is a price for not asking too much.
I guess my advice here is to ask on a bus station (the companies there are more solid) about the tour and what does it consist, if you need to pay something extra after or not. A good idea is also to ask whether the guide on a tour will be speaking English or Spanish.
The tour itself
Got tickets and everything, now it is time to go! My tour to the Ballestas islands took about 2 hours. It was also due to the fact that the boat we were on was kind of broken, so the captain had to call for help twice and we spend about half an hour in the middle of the sea. Not the nicest feeling, but I survived, so I’m quite happy about it.
First, our tour went to Paracas Bay, where you can see a Paracas flower. Which is basically something that looks like Nazca lines. But this time we know and for whom this was made. And it is actually just work of an artist who wanted to make something similar to Nazca lines. So he decided to make a memoir of some flower that is typical for Paracas and its region.
Next stop is finally Ballestas islands. You will get to noticed them quite from far. But the first thing I noticed was how much birds were flying over our heads. It was magical. Apparently, there are millions of birds living in these islands.
The main thing here was, of course, to spot the penguins as they are the most known ones from here. We managed to see a little colony of penguins after about 10 minutes. It is quite hard to recognize them from this far with all the other birds around. But the guide said that she is going here almost every day, so she is used to it.
Another major animal we spotted was a sea lion calmly resting on one of the rocks. They are very common on this coast, so it is not so unique to see them. At least not for the guide. I was quite happy to see such a big animal in its wild nature.
Conclusion of the tour to Ballestas Islands and Paracas
For me, it is enough to be in Paracas just for one day. But I’m also not passionate about golfing or kite surfing. If you are, you might want to be here longer than that. The main activity here is to visit the Ballestas islands.
Next time I would be more picky about how to choose the right tour to Ballestas Islands, as I got quite annoyed by the fact that I have to pay more than they told me in the beginning. And I wasn’t the only person irritated by this. But other than that, it is a really nice place to visit, the small size of the city kinda guarantee safety even during the night.
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