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Flashback Friday: Paracas, Peru and Ballestas Island

Paracas is a beautiful small town located about 4 hours south of Lima. It is sunny all year round and has a good variety of activities to choose. It is home of the Reserva Nacional de Paracas (Paracas National Reserve). Within the Reserve is one of the largest protected deserts in the Americas, as well as the Ballestas Islands, also known as "The Poor Man's Galapagos".

Settlement on the Paracas Peninsula began around 900 BC by the Paracas people who were fisherman and farmers. Excavations at the Paracas Necropolis show that the Paracas people were skilled craftspeople who made fine pottery, shell & bone necklaces, obsidian knives, gold ornaments and vibrant woven textiles. Many of these artifacts are well-preserved due to the dry climate and darkness of the underground burial chambers.

In the early 1800s, Argentine General Jose de San Martin arrived in Paracas with over 4,000 troops. His troops moved onto Lima as part of its mission to rid South American colonies from Spanish rule.

In 1925, a team of archaeologists began to excavate the Paracas Cavernas, revealing a Wari communal burial site from 300 BC. At the site, the team found mummified remains and bundles of costumes, jewellery, and food. Nazca artifacts were also nearby. The National Reserve was created by the Peruvian government in 1975.

Getting There

There are many public bus companies operating services from Lima. I used the backpacker's bus PeruHop (see my post about the entire PeruHop journey here).

Getting Around Paracas

Everything in El Chaco is within walking distance but for those with mobility issues, moto taxis are available. Regular taxis are also available to cover longer distances to nearby towns.

Where to Stay

There are a suprising number of options for lodging in Paracas from fancy hotels to small guesthouses and hostels.

The least expensive option is the Kokopelli Hostel Paracas, one of the options available for booking through PeruHop. The younger, hipper party crowd really enjoyed their stays here. It is right on the beach and near all the nightclubs located within this tiny town.

A mid-level economy B&B hotel in Paracas is the new Hotel Riviera Inka Paracas. It is also close to the beach and the boardwalk.

A more upscale option would be the Double Tree Hotel Hilton Paracas. This is a modern hotel with a swimming pool located next to the National Reserve. Some of the rooms have balconies to enjoy sea views. It includes a restaurant, a spa, and a buffet breakfast.

I chose to stay at the Palmeras House Guesthouse. It is located about a block from the beach, away from the boardwalk right in El Chaco, as the town is known by locals. This is a lovely family-owned guesthouse where I was greeted with a big smile and a welcome hug by the owner's young son, Jorge.

I had a very comfortable room on the second floor that was spacious and very clean. I had access to a shared kitchen and the WiFi was strong. I had a good sized seating area in my room but there were also shared lounging areas where I was able to meet and chat with other travellers.

Where to Eat

As a seaside town, fish and seafood are featured on most restaurant menus in Paracas. There are many seafront restaurants near the pier that offer a menu del dia (set 3-course meal) or a la carte options. The grill stands located by the pier are a great place to pick up some tasty treats at a budget price. In the evenings, choose a place that looks over the water to enjoy stunning sunsets.