Paracas National Reserve: The Most Beautiful Place in Peru


Paracas National Reserve is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Peru. There is no denying that there are many areas in Peru that keep attracting visitors, but, as a beach and nature lover, the wildlife, untouched ocean, and miles of sea cliffs at the Paracas National Reserve never ceased to amaze me.

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Overview of Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve is situated on Peru’s south coast and is a protected area for marine creatures and birds. It is completely an untamed world of over 200,000 hectares where sea lions, pelicans, and pink flamingos congregate.  There, visitors can not only have several close encounters with large groups of marine life, but it is also a place to see the pristine ocean meeting the Atacama Desert.

Paracas National Park

When I arrived in Paracas, I noticed that there were many organized Paracas National Reserve tours. It is difficult to visit the park independently, as a large part of the reserve is covered by desert, the road is unpaved, and sandstorms can happen at any moment. By following an organized tour, I could sit back and enjoy the natural beauty Paracas National Reserve had to offer. The cost to visit Islas Battetas and Paracas National Reserve is between 35 and 50 sols, so it is impossible to pass up this trip.

Highlights of Paracas National Reserve

Islas Balletas

Islas Balletas is only accessible by boat. It is a wild place where thousands of birds form lines overhead, dolphins jump in the ocean smiles on their faces, and sea lions find their home on several small inhabited islands. I was lucky to see the dolphins leap in the ocean on the right side during my boat trip in the early morning.

Paracas National Reserve

Did you know the lifespan of a sea lion is twenty years?

Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve Visitor Center

The visitor center provides historical and geological information of Paracas National Reserve. It turns out that a five-minute walk from visitor center takes you to a waterfront where pink flamingos thrive.

Paracas National Reserve

Walked five minutes from the visitor center to the ocean front to see flamingos, Paracas National Reserve

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is known to be the driest place on Earth. Our van passed through an area that, decades ago, NASA’s Viking mission to Mars took place.

Paracas National Park

Atacama Desert – this is where NASA’s Viking mission took place

Traveling through the Atacama Desert was as if I was transported back to the most ancient time and remote place on earth. There was nothing in the area except the infinite stretch of desert, sand, dust, and wind, and mountains that were formed 16 million years ago.

Paracas National Park

Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world

La Cathedral

La Cathedral features an unique rock formation along the isolated Peru’s southern coast. The water cave was formed millions years ago but collapsed in the 2007 earthquake.

Paracas National Reserve

Cathedral Rock, Paracas National Reserve, Peru


A beautiful beach with blue water, different rock formations, and wild water spraying under the azure sky.  On the other side of Lagunilla is a fish dock where fresh seafood arrives every evening.

Paracas National Reserve

Our tour guide recommended that we have lunch at La Tia Fela, a famous seaside restaurant featuring freshly made seafood. There, I had my favorite meal, Pescado Frito (fried fish), during my Peru trip. The plate came with a whole fish, rice, salad, and fries for 35 sols. Watching the calm blue water, listening to the music, and letting the crispy and tender fish melt in my mouth made me feel like I was in heaven.

Paracas National Park

This area was affected by a Tsunami when the Pisco earthquake occurred in 2007. The waves reached up to six meters in height and a small part of the village was flooded.

Paracas National Reserve

Playa Roja

Most beaches in Peru have white sand. At Playa Roja, the reddish shore is a special feature and its untamed blue water adds contrast and livelihood to the deserted Atacama landscape. I spent a few minutes standing along the railing and walking on part of the Atacama Desert, observing the waves trying hard to break against the cliffs of Punta Santa Maria before settling onto the shore.

Paracas National Park

Playa Roja, Paracas National Reserve

Extra trip tips

-There is not so much to do in Paracas other than visit Paracas National Park. There is a harbor in town for you to relax and walk around under the sunset. The water has a strong smell and there are few bars and restaurants lined up on the shore.

Paracas National Park and Reserve in Peru

Sunset over the waterfront in Paracas, Peru

– All the hostels are on the main street and they are right next to each other, so it is easy to find your pre-booked hostel. I stayed at the El Buen Samaritano Backpackers, and the beach is across the street. The hostel does not provide complimentary breakfast, but it has a kitchen and free internet access. I paid $6 for a private room, which was really a great deal.

Have you visited Paracas National Reserve? Share your experience and thoughts below.

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Travel guide to Paracas National Reserve

Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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