PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE: Desert & marine park with Ballestas Islands, Geoglyph, Sea lions, Pelicans, charming harbor with beaches and fish restaurants, etc.

Paracas National Reserve

The 335,000 ha, this  is Peru's oldest marine reserve. It is one of the most visited national parks of Peru for its desert landscapes and its proximity to the Ballestas Islands, which legally are a distinct protected area. Located about 265km South of capital Lima, it includes Bahía de la Independencia as well as a large area of coastal waters. Its was primarily created to protect the marine ecosystem as well as some 100 archaeological sites of the Paracas culture.


Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Peru is so famous, and on top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site Lima,  World Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park,  World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.


The park is a great example of how the Humboldt Current's cold water that flow from the south creates subtropical desert conditions, as well as some of the world's most productive conditions for fish and their dependent marine mammals and birds. Anchovy, sardine, hake, smooth and spotted dogfish are the more common of the more than 160 fish species that living in the park's coastal waters. The photosynthetic basis for these fishes are some 254 species of marine plankton and some benthic algae on the coastal rocks.


On land, however, prevail some of the driest desert conditions in the world, and only 14 species of herbaceous plants and lichens have been recorded for the terrestrial part of the park.


Two species of Sea Lions, Sea Otters and many marine birds live off the Anchovy and other fishes, scallop, crab, abalone and octopus, while in turn Orcas and whales prey on the predators. The area is also home to marine reptiles: Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles.


More than 225 migratory bird species spend time in Paracas, some 60 of which coming from the USA. Among the endangered or vulnerable species are: Humboldt penguin, Spheniscus humboldti, American flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber, Peruvian diving petrel, Pelecanoides garnotii, Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii, Peruvian booby, Sula variegata and masked booby, Sula dactylatra.


Near the Julio C. Tello museum near the entrance of the park, is the Paracas Necropolis (100 BCE - CE 300), with burial sites known as the Cabezas Largas and Cerro Colorado, where mummified remains of the Paracas elite were found with fine burial goods. Named after the archeologist who made major discoveries about the ancient Paracas culture, the visitor center features artifacts as well as information about the flora, the fauna and the ecosystems of the area.


In the Bahia Lagunillas is the picturesque fishing harbor with wonderful little restaurants for savoring a fresh fish lunch, while  enjoying coastal birds, like Peruvian pelicans, a variety of gulls and several shore birds almost at your feet. The bay is lined with red sand beaches, product of the erosion of porphyry rocks on the Peninsula.

Paracas National Reserve: Entrance sign. Paracas National Reserve: Visitor Center, "Julio Tello.

Paracas National Reserve entrance.

Paracas Visitor Center, "Julio Tello" is well worth a visit, even though it can be noisy with children at times. 

Paracas National Reserve: Paracas fishing harbour "Lagunillas" Paracas National Reserve: Fearless Peru Pelicans wait at the kitchen of restaurants.

Paracas fishing harbour "Lagunillas" is a charming place to eat fresh seafood, enjoy people swimming and observe lots of birds right at your feet while having lunch.

Fearless Peru Pelicans wait at the kitchen of restaurants to beg for fish remains.

Paracas National Reserve: the Candelabra petroglyph.

With a hundred archaeological sites, Paracas is not only biologically important, but also historically. The best known ancient site is the Candelabra Petroglyph of the Paracas culture, dating back to about 200 BC.

Paracas National Reserve: A charming restaurant in a bay on the beach in the reserve. Paracas National Reserve: Fish ceviche is the Peruvian form of sushi.

A charming restaurant in a bay on the beach in the reserve.

Fish ceviche is the Peruvian form of sushi, a delicious raw (or lightly cooked) fish dish marinated in lime.

Paracas National Reserve: Peru Pelican. Paracas National Reserve: Pelicans waddle around your feet in Lagunillas fishermen harbor.

Pelicans waddle around your feet in Lagunillas fishermen harbor.

Paracas National Reserve: The former Cathedral natural bridge. Paracas National Reserve: Steep cliffs and lower lying beaches form an ideal landscape for marine and shore birds

The former Cathedral natural bridge collapsed during the 2007 earthquake.

Steep cliffs and lower lying beaches form an ideal landscape for marine and shore birds, as well as for South American Sea Lions.

Paracas National Reserve: American Oystercatcher foraging on the beach. Paracas National Reserve: Grey-headed Gull.

An American Oystercatcher foraging on the beach.

Grey-headed Gulls are common on the beaches.

Paracas National Reserve: Kelp Gulls in Lagunillas Harbor. Paracas National Reserve: Kelp Gull.
Paracas National Reserve: Kelp Gull taking off.

Kelp Gulls in Lagunillas Harbor keep a close eye on the patrons of the little beach terraces for anything edible remaining. Sometimes they may even steal something off your plate. Such a wonderful place Paracas National Reserve.


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National Parks Tours Worldwide is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA, a social responsibility and conservation company.