Paracas National Reserve is a popular nature reserve on the Southern Coast of Peru. Paracas is also a very popular beach resort destination although the beach in the town itself is not too large. The town Paracas is also referred as El Chaco and is mainly used as the tourist hub for Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve.
Dry desert hills surround the town.
Flora and fauna
Dry and hot. (the reason it is a desert)
There is a now a new direct bus service to Paracas from Lima and Ica called Peru Hop. This will drop you right into the centre of the town and at your hotel/hostel door, and is a bus made especially for tourists. Prices from Lima are approximately 40 soles one way.
You can drive to Paracas from Lima which will take around 4 hours. The other way to get there is by flying. The route is Lima-Pisco with the Airline LC Bucre.
You can reach a confortable regular bus compagny like ExcluCiva, Cruz del Sur and Oltursa. Tey have a bus station in Lima, Paracas, Ica an Nazca. They also have connections to Arequipa or Cusco (and towns in between) although sometimes the schedule is not always met. Also there are minibuses to Ica, which are a bit cheaper and provide hotel-to-hotel service. Cheaper bus companies only go to Pisco, from where you can get a taxi to Paracas (S./15 for two Apr 2015).
You can go by taxi to Paracas, there´s a company named TAXI SUDAMERIS 24 hours at Lima, you need to make a reservation in writing. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Jhoel Lara : email@example.com. The price from the airport is $170.00 dollars all-included or S/438.00 soles. It´s about 4 hours from the airport and about 3 from other parts of Lima.
You can walk everywhere in the tourist center. There are some mototaxis if needed or taxis to take you to other towns.
There is a small/medium beach and lots of restaurants by the sea.
Explore the Península de Paracas with a tour or on your own, for example on rented bike (which will cost around S/. 30 per day). If done independently you should start in the early morning when the wind is not that strong. According to park rangers these is a place with one of the strongest winds in the country. It's very HARD to bike when you have to face the wind.
You can also take a 2h boat tour to the Ballestas Islands for around S/. 35 (you can beat this price to 30S/. or even 28S/. plus entrance fees 13S/.). All tours seems to be exactly the same with very similar types of boats so go for the cheapest. The Ballestas Islands contain huge colonies of seabirds (including penguins) and sea-lions. Tours depart at 8 and 10 in the morning, the earlier one is said to be better. Each boat takes around 35 people and you want to have a good windbreaker with you as it gets cold when it speeds up.
It's possible to buy a package tour joining both trips stated above. (S./45 plus S./17 entrance fees as of May 2014)
There are many tourist shops with all kinds of trinkets/jewelry/etc.
Restaurants are all very expensive for Peruvian standards, but some do have a 'menu del dia' for S/. 8-15 (you have to ask because they will not tell you this and will just show their expensive a-la-carte menu).
You can find cheaper choices at the street parallel to the seafront boulevard. Some are open only for lunch and others just for dinner. There is also one Chifa (Chinese restaurant). At night there are some open-air grill stands that open up near the southern end of this street.
Aquamarine Sandwicheria Fruta Bar - NW of the plaza - Great food and drinks, cheap Pisco Sours, delicious milkshakes, and crepes.
You can buy cheese or carne empanadas and keke from vendors walking by the pier. There are also bread stands selling rolls for 8 per sol. There are also two grocery stores with reasonable prices on the west side of the plaza if you would like to make your own food.
Restaurants also serve drinks, but must charge a lot. Some have 'happy-hours' for mixed drinks, but the prices are very high. You can get cheaper drinks in the two minimarkets near the plaza.
Most options are really expensive, especially when you book them online. Better is to just show up and try to get a discounted price, which shouldn't be much of a problem in the low-season. Expect to pay around US$ 25-30 for a double in a two star hotel close to the beach. Bear in mind that some places shut down in the low season.
There isnt much to worry about in Paracas safety-wise in the main tourist area.
Peru Hop is a new hop on hop off bus service serving Paracas from Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Ica and Huacachina. Peru Hop is a tourist only service and will collect you from your hostel in it's safe, comfortable new buses with English speaking DVDs and clean toilets.