The Paracas National Reserve is the second protected natural area in the Ica region, together with Punta San Juan of the National Reserve of Islands, Islets and Puntas Guaneras, and is part of the 25 that, so far, are suitable to receive visitors with all biosafety protocols.
The Paracas National Reserve is one of the categorized Natural Protected Areas, which protects representative samples of our marine-coastal ecosystems. Its importance lies in the fact that it protects a great biological diversity essential for the maintenance of various biological cycles that guarantee the conservation of species, as well as generating economic income for thousands of inhabitants. Likewise, it protects in its interior various archaeological remains of the Paracas culture settled in a large part of this important reserve.
The income generated through tourist activity is important to strengthen the entire National System of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SINANPE). In addition, RNP is included in the Ramsar Convention list of wetlands of international importance.
It is located in part of the districts of Paracas and Salas, belonging to the provinces of Paracas and Ica respectively, in the department of Ica. Its extension is 335,000 hectares, of which 35% belong to the mainland and islands and 65% to marine waters.
The Paracas National Reserve is located 250 km from Lima and is easily accessible from the South Pan-American Highway. In it you can camp after coordination with the Headquarters of the Area. In addition, a few kilometers away is the city of Pisco and the Chaco where you can spend the night and also undertake other activities such as a visit to the Ballestas Islands.
Although, after the earthquake in August 2007, the rock formation called "La Catedral" can no longer be appreciated, it is possible to enjoy a unique landscape beauty that is complemented by a good gastronomic offer and restorative baths in the magnificent beaches of the reserve. . For bird watchers the table is also served, as well as for those who enjoy hiking and adventure in natural settings.
The Paracas National Reserve is home to a great biological diversity, especially in the marine-coastal part. It is estimated that there are about 216 species of birds, 36 of mammals, 10 of reptiles, 168 of fish and a large number of invertebrates that are the initial part of the trophic chain of this important place. The main bank of fan shells (Argopecten purpuratus) in the country is in the Bay of Independencia, where there is also an important variety of crabs, sea snails, octopuses, urchins and other mollusks.
Among the birds that can be seen are the flamingo or parihuana (Phoenicopterus chilensis), the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), the potoyunco (Pelecanoides garnotii), the tendril (Larosterna inca) and eventually the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus). You can also see the fine sea lions (Arcthocephalus australis), the funny sea lions (Otarya bironia) and the sea cat or otter (Lontra felina). In this way, you can also see the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), the bufeo (Tursiops truncatus) and the dark dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) in the marine waters.
Vegetation is scarce in the Paracas National Reserve, however some portions of coastal hills can be observed in the highest parts of the hills formed by the effects of humidity and that serve as habitat for various reptiles, insects, birds and some mammals.
The main tourist attractions of the Paracas National Reserve are undoubtedly the natural settings that allow us to appreciate the beauty of the place and its varied flora and fauna. The Lagunillas, La Mina and Mendieta beaches stand out, as well as the Piedra Redonda and Tres Marías islands.
Visiting the Paracas National Reserve allows you to appreciate beautiful beaches such as Yumaque and La Mina, covered with fine sand and feel the sound and force of the Paracas winds. The name Paracas means, precisely, "Sand Wind" and gave its name to one of the most important cultures of the Peruvian coast.
Since February 2017, the new tourist infrastructure has been in operation in the Paracas National Reserve, built by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur). The Plaza Adjacent to the Interpretation Center stands out, which has iconographies of the Nasca and Paracas cultures, which is accessed by a path from the parking area. It also has an area of informational totems.
Other important sectors are the Santo Domingo checkpoint, intended for the tourist orientation service. To appreciate the enchanting coastal seascape, you can go to the Santa María, La Catedral, Playa Roja, Lagunillas, Yumaque and Playa Supay viewpoints, where the tourist circuit ends.
The enjoyment of the Paracas National Reserve can be completed by navigating the marine sector, which comprises 65% of the territory of the protected natural area, and approaching the Ballestas Islands, located 30 minutes from the coast and made up of three formations rocky areas where an important marine fauna inhabits in which sea lions and guano birds such as guanay, booby and tendril stand out.
Likewise, from navigating the sea you can see the famous geoglyph of El Candelabro, located on a sandy hill in the northern sector of the Paracas peninsula.
Within the Paracas National Reserve, more than 100 archaeological sites have been identified that demonstrate the degree of adaptability to the ancient Peruvian zone. The remains found show a simple lifestyle, basically dedicated to fishing and collecting shellfish. In the evolutionary process of the Paracas culture are the known and valued textiles that are classified in the Necropolis stage of this important culture.
In the Julio C. Tello Site Museum you can learn part of the fascinating history of this place that represents an important cultural center of the country. On the route through the RNP there are different vestiges of the archaeological wealth of the place and the interdependence of the sea with the population.
In the Paracas National Reserve the average climate is hot. The average annual temperature is 18º C, oscillating between 22º C in February and 15º C in August. The rains are very scarce and it basically occurs in winter. The aridity of the area originates the low to the ground and intense winds known as Paracas that are uncomfortable for the visitor but that are normal in this place. Although the influx of tourists occurs throughout the year, it is concentrated in the first four months of the year.
To get to Paracas the most common option is to take a bus / truck from one of the three cities that surround it or to arrive on your own by car. Finally you will find the best routes, keep reading to see the details of each one:
The most popular option among travelers is to visit Paracas with a 1-day round trip to get to know this area. However, if you organize your time well, you can also make stops in Ica and Huacachina.
To go from Lima to Paracas, the bus tour lasts approximately 3.30 hours, the buses / trucks leave from the Javier Prado terminal and will leave you directly at the Paracas terminal. Also the cost of the ticket ranges from 10USD to 21USD, depending on the company you choose and the type of seat.
The route from Nazca-Paracas is very similar to the one from Lima-Paracas, it lasts 3.20 hours. The buses / trucks leave directly from the Nazca station, in the center of the city. However, the big difference is the cost of the ticket, since from here the price ranges from 6USD to 15USD.
Ica is by far the fastest and cheapest option of the three, given its proximity to Paracas. To begin with, the tour lasts only 1.20 hours and the cost ranges from 5USD to 10USD. The bus / truck leaves directly from the Ica station, located in the center of the city.
Getting to Paracas by car is easier than you might imagine. You only have to take the Pan-American highway and get to kilometer 245, from there you take the deviation towards Pisco and later that of Paracas.
The road has two tolls for a total of 14 soles, equivalent to approximately 5 USD. So as you can see it is quite accessible. However, depending on where you start from, the tour can last up to 3.30 hours.