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Sunset on the sand dunes | Paracas & Huacachina
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Peru | Paracas & Huacachina: Seals, Sandboarding & More!

As you noticed in my previous blogsHiking is my big hobby. Despite Peru is really a hiking country, you can also do some really cool things that have nothing to do with hiking. You can do a number of activities, such as seal watching, sandboarding and visiting nature parks Paracas en Huacachina. Both places are close to the capital Lima. Below I will take you through the activities per location, how to get there and what it costs!

Tour in Peru (backpacking)

Peru; the land of the Incas, mysterious discoveries, colonial cities and the traditionally dressed population. Peru is the country of the impressive Andes mountains, deserts and high-altitude lakes. Are you looking for inspiration or information about Peru or are you already backpacking in the country? Then read the articles below packed with information, travel stories and practical tips…

Paracas

How do you get there?

You can use Paracas (Location here) visits from Lima, Huacachina en Ica. We came from Lima and took the bus to Paracas with the bus company Southern Cross. This ride took about 3,5 hours. The bus terminal was a bit outside the center, but via a path along the main road, you are in the village in no time. This is therefore easy to do on foot and a taxi is not necessarily necessary. This bus from Lima was 48 soles per person (about €12).

The road in Paracas National Reserve | Paracas & Huacachina
The road in Paracas National Reserve | Paracas & Huacachina

From Huacachina (Location here) you can take a direct bus, we took it the other way around from Paracas to Huacachina and this company was called Paracas Explorer. For 30 soles per person we traveled directly from the center of Paracas to Huacachina. By the way, it doesn't run that often. Fortunately, there is another option and that is via Ica. You can take several buses to Ica from Paracas and of course also the other way around.

What can you do there?

In Paracas two activities are central, namely visiting Islas Ballestas en Paracas National Reserve. Visiting the islands is a passive activity and visiting the National Reserve can be done passively or actively. Below you can read what the tips and possibilities are for each activity.

The many animals on Islas Ballestas | Paracas & Huacachina
The many animals on Islas Ballestas | Paracas & Huacachina

Islas Ballestas

Boat tour

The only way to Islas Ballestas (Location hier) can be visited by boat. The islands are located in the Pacific approximately 40 minutes by boat from the coast of Paracas. They are also called the 'Galápagos of the poor', because many mammals and birds live on and around these islands. To protect nature and the animals here, it is absolutely forbidden to walk on the islands. They can therefore only be seen from a boat. So you don't get off the boat during a tour. 

You actually go there for 40 minutes, then sail quietly to the islands for 40 minutes and sail back for 40 minutes. In total, this tour takes two hours. You can do this best boat tour do it in the morning, then the weather is often the best. Not only the weather is an advantage, but also that you can do an activity in Paracas afterwards!

Costs

The boat tour cost 30 soles per person (about €7,5). In addition, you have to pay 5 soles per person in harbor dues and you need a tourist card to visit the Islas Ballestas. This tourist card costs 11 soles per person for one activity, but if you also go to Paracas National Reserve, you can buy the tourist card for 17 soles per person. 

National Reserve Paracas from above | Paracas & Huacachina
National Reserve Paracas from above | Paracas & Huacachina

Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve (Location here) is the second popular activity in Paracas. This is a protected nature reserve where both the ocean and the dry desert are very impressive. You can travel around this park with different means of transport, namely with a bicycle, scooter, car or bus. The latter is by means of a tour, but you can rent the other three means of transport yourself and then determine your own route. Because there are actually only two routes possible, I would definitely recommend renting something yourself, instead of the bus tour. This way you can travel more easily at your own pace and therefore stay a little longer at beautiful viewpoints. 

Around on the scooter

We rented a scooter and highly recommend it. We spoke to people who had cycled and because of the enormous wind, that is very tough. In addition, due to the size of the park, you may not be able to view all viewpoints. A car is of course also possible, but the wind in your hair on a scooter did provide more experience of the place where you are. 

We had rented a scooter for the whole day, so from about 10.15 am until the end of the afternoon. This cost 120 soles in total (about €30). Although we thought this was expensive, we thought it was definitely worth it. We were able to cover all roads, see all viewpoints and stop quietly along the way to take pictures, for example.

The wide views along the way in the National Reserve | Paracas & Huacachina
The wide views along the way in the National Reserve | Paracas & Huacachina

Travel Route

In terms of route, we recommend making the round to the left. This gives you the best part of the route first and then you end up with a more boring part when you leave the park.

Costs

You also need the tourist card for this park and therefore costs 11 soles per person if you are the only one to do this. If you are also going to do a bout tour to Islas de Ballestas, you can purchase this card for 17 soles, so you pay less per activity. 

Huacachina

Huacachina (Location here) is an oasis in the desert just below the big city Ica. It is a bizarre phenomenon that is now kept alive, but originally it was without restaurants and hotels around it. 

The sand dunes in Huacachina | Paracas & Huacachina
The sand dunes in Huacachina | Paracas & Huacachina

How do you get there?

You can use Huacachina reach through Ica en Paracas. From the bus station in Ica you can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk in about ten minutes. We took this route to Ica when we left Huacachina and to the bus station of Southern Cross went to Ica.

So we came from Paracas and made the trip from Paracas to Huacachina in one go, so without a transfer. There are several companies that only drive to Ica, so you have to transfer to another vehicle to continue your route. From Paracas this is not necessary, because with a bus company Paracas Explorer you can go directly to Huacachina. 

On the buggy in Huacachina | Paracas & Huacachina
On the buggy in Huacachina | Paracas & Huacachina

What can you do there?

In Huacachina you can do multiple activities, but the two most famous activities are buggy driving and sandboarding. There are possibilities to do this separately, but most tourists book a combination.

Buggy driving and sandboarding

A tour means that you walk to the beginning of the sand dunes and from there you get into a buggy with a group. With that buggy you enter a kind of rollercoaster, at least that's how it felt to me. Up and down the dunes with speed and lots of screaming.

Sandboarding in Huacachina | Tips for more adventure
Sandboarding in Huacachina | Tips for more adventure

In between you stop somewhere at the top of a sand hill and the driver takes sandboards from the buggy. There we were challenged to lie down on a board and 'surf' down. A bit exciting, but very cool at the same time. Later you can often try a higher hill or perhaps even a bit standing.

Costs

The costs vary considerably per provider. We paid 40 soles per person for the buggy driving and sandboarding activity together. This took about two hours in total. Usually this tour starts around 16.00 in the afternoon, so you can watch the incredibly beautiful sunset in the hills afterwards. There are also tours that offer this, so check that out when booking your activity. 

Don't forget the sunset, because it is truly magical!

Sunset on the sand dunes | Paracas & Huacachina
Sunset on the sand dunes | Paracas & Huacachina

Tour in Peru (backpacking)

Peru; the land of the Incas, mysterious discoveries, colonial cities and the traditionally dressed population. Peru is the country of the impressive Andes mountains, deserts and high-altitude lakes. Are you looking for inspiration or information about Peru or are you already backpacking in the country? Then read the articles below packed with information, travel stories and practical tips…

Madelon

My name is Madelon, also known online as 'retourtjewereld'. Ever since I was a few years old, I have been saying that I want to make a long world trip and I did that with my friend Thomas in 2022/2023. My wanderlust is far from over and I would like to share my enthusiasm about the places I visited with you!

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