Experience – Paracas National Reserve, Peru.
- Location: Reserva Nacional de Paracas, Peru. (Google Maps)
- Hours: All Day
- Recommended Time: All Day
- How to Arrive: By car
- Distance from Lima: 262 km / 162 miles
- Ideal Month(s): All Year
Paracas National Reserve is located in the region of Ica, 250 km south of Lima, and a few kilometers from the town of Pisco. The reserve spans an area of 335,000 hectares, 65% of which correspond to marine ecosystems. Paracas National Reserve encompasses coastal geographic features, including: the Paracas Peninsula, Independencia Bay, San Gallán Island, Paracas Bay and Independencia Island. In addition to the Paracas National Reserve’s marine ecosystems, there are more than 100 archaeological sites identified inside the reserve, many of them the result of the Paracas culture, which is known for its textiles and crafts.
In additional to being known for its wealth of marine wildlife and dramatic shoreline of wind and wave sculpted rock formations, there is a myriad of wildlife due to the cool water of the Humboldt Current. There are over 215 species of birds using the reserve as a key stopover during migration.
One of the main attractions of the Paracas National Reserve are the Ballestas Islands, an archipelago containing an abundance of wildlife. The islands are a collection of arches, tunnels and other wind and sea sculptures where sea lions, Humboldt penguins, seals, and turtles converge with many types of birds, such as: albatross, pelicans and various seagulls. Boat trips circle the islands to show the diverse marine life, however disembarking is prohibited in order to to protect the wildlife.
The beaches of Paracas National Reserve are also stunning, although the rocky coastline and jellyfish mean they are not ideal for swimming. However, a small promontory has formed La Mina, which is a gorgeous beach for swimming. La Mina has clear emerald waters and horseshoe-shaped hills sheltering the it from the strong winds that are typical of the reserve. Other beaches worth visiting are the aviary haven of Mendieta beach, which is located in front of Zarate Island and Red Beach, or Playa Roja, where the gorgeous shoreline carries a deep scarlet color.
Lastly, the coastal desert area surrounding Paracas National Reserve is the home of the pre-Inca Paracas culture, famous for its detailed textile work. There is an onsite museum that can be included on a tour of the reserve to better understand the history of Paracas and its ancient culture.