martes, 16 de enero de 2018

Pisco & Paracas

If on your trip through Peru you plan to take the classic route of southern Peru, most known as' El Camino del Gringo', one of the first stops that you will find from Lima is Pisco, and the nearby Paracas, where the Paracas National Reserve (in the department of Ica) is located.

This is one of the six coastal Marine Protected Natural Areas -ANP, by the acronym in Spanish- located between Tumbes (north) and Moquegua (south) and is also a must to observe the nearby Ballestas Islands, home to thousands of guano birds and where you can see the famous trident shaped geoglyph known as' El Candelabro'.
The city of Pisco also gives its name to the famous national licour because in the 16th century, when the Spaniards brought the first vineyards to supply wine to Peru, they noticed that the inhabitants of these valleys called the birds' piskos' and "there were so many of them and they flew so close".

The Paracas Valley was the cradle of one of the most developed pre-Inca civilizations, the Paracas culture, which encompassed the period from 700 BC. until 400 AD. It is not known exactly what happened in the region after the disappearance of the Paracas culture in the next thousand years, but something more to the southwest, the Nazca culture became predominant for centuries, monopolizing influences such as the Huari, or the Ica culture, reaching its end with the dominion of the Inca Empire.

Reserva Nacional de Paracas, cómo llegar Reserva Paracas

It should be noted that on August 15, 2007, Peru suffered one of its worst earthquakes, having Pisco as its epicenter. This terrible earth movement of 8 degrees on the Richter scale, lasting three minutes, left a balance of 500 dead and the collapse of a large number of buildings, including some historic, such as the Cathedral of San Clemente, located in the middle of Plaza de Armas in the city.

Many other colonial buildings of great historical value were also lost after this earthquake.

Pisco, terremoto de Pisco

Transport between Pisco and the port of Paracas (about 15 km south) is simple. There is public transport that can be taken next to the commercial area in Pisco, and in the Plaza Mayor of El Chaco, in Paracas.

*As a warning, we recommend avoiding the commercial area and beaches when night falls, and taking taxis after sunset. There are many cases of assaults on tourists and it is always advisable to be cautious. At the Panamericana Sur exit you will find taxi drivers who offer accommodation or agencies, usually in exchange for a commission.

Ballestas Islands

These islands are one of the main tourist attractions of the area, and can only be visited in boats chartered by the travel agencies operating on its beaches.

From the boats, visitors will be able to observe the large number of guano birds (like the guanay cormorants), Peruvian booby birds or pelicans, and will be able to observe sea lions, Humboldt penguins and even dolphins.

The tour lasts approximately one and a half hour and costs about S/40 (US$ 12,5). In addition to the crossing between rocks and caves watching these birds, it includes the view of the well-known geoglyph of 'El Candelabro'.

Of this little is known, only that it is 150 meters high and 50 meters wide. The rest are conjectures, such as a sister line of the Nazca Lines, or a sign that the ancient sailors used as a navigation guide.

Islas Ballestas, Candelabro, Tour Islas Ballestas

Islas Ballestas, Pinguinos de Humbolt, Tour Islas Ballestas

Boats are not covered, so remember to wear sunscreen and a hat or cap to cover your head. If you are prone to dizziness, take some medication that can reduce it.

Paracas National Reserve

The Paracas National Reserve covers an area of 335,000 hectares (217,594 of sea surface). It can be visited through several tour operators or with taxi drivers waiting at the El Chaco pier.

You can also reach walking, leaving from the obelisk dedicated to the disembarkation of the liberator José de San Martín and following on foot along the road to the south.

After 3 km you will arrive at the park entrance, which has a cost of S/ 5 for adults and S/ 1,5 for children. The Paracas National Reserve is a wetland of international importance, declared a Ramsar Site in 1992.

Currently, the Reserve preserves more than 120 archaeological sites belonging to the Paracas culture.

The average annual temperature is 25 ºC (in February) and 15.5 ºC (in August). It should be noted that between June and September, but especially in August, there are the famous "paracas" (for rain and Acco sand), very intense winds loaded with fine sand.

Paracas Beaches

Lagunillas, La Mina or Raspón, are some of the sandy beaches and calm waters, ideal for a family stroll, but you can also camp on the wide beaches of Yumaque, Supay, Playón and Mendieta.

National Reserve of Paracas, Paracas, how to get to Paracas

Interpretation Centre

At an international level, this Interpretation Centre offers free and didactic information on the historical, geological, palenteological, oceanographic, biological and socioeconomic values of the 335,000 ha of the ANP.

The Cathedral

A rock formation with an antiquity of 28 to 40 million years old, and resembled, as its name suggests, a gigantic cathedral. In 2007, due to the earthquake that affected the area, it had a partial collapse in its arch, although the landscape is still spectacular.

National Reserve Paracas, Paracas, How to get to Paracas

Necropolis of Paracas

More than 400 funerary remains were exhumed in this area, with the particularities of the funerary rites of the Paracas culture, among which are its characteristic tombs with funerary bundles that cover the bodies with beautiful tissues and mantos with representations of animals and men of the time, and the applications of techniques of trepanation and deformation of skulls. Most of these discoveries are found in the Larco Museum and the Regional Museum of Ica.

Tambo Colorado 

This monumental Inca adobe citadel is located 45 km northwest of Pisco and is the best preserved Inca urban center of the Peruvian coast. Built during the government of the Inca Pachacútec, it takes its name from the red and yellow color of its walls, which served as a shelter for the soldiers and high authorities of the Inca empire.

Near the entrance of the citadel -which was known in colonial times as Limay Caxca- there is also a Site Museum, which exhibits archaeological pieces found in the area. SCHEDULE: Mon to Sun from 8.00 to 16.00 hours. S/ 7.50 general admission, S/ 3 reduced admission, S/ 2 students.

It can be reached from Pisco in about an hour by the Los Libertadores Highway. There are taxis that can take you for about S/50, or circuits can be programmed from Pisco for about S/60.

There are also combis (buses) that leave the market for about S/ 8. It is recommended when arriving to ask the locals for the schedules of the buses of return, since the transport of return to Pisco is scarce and usually it is complete.

Tambo Colorado, Pisco

Where to Sleep in Paracas & Pisco

If you're thinking of staying in Pisco and Paracas, the cheapest option is the first, because for some years now Paracas has become a holiday resort for wealthy families in Lima.

For this reason, hotels such as the Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort or DobleTree by Hilton Resort Paracas have settled in the city.

Hostels in Pisco

Tambo Colorado Hostel***

This beautiful and simple accommodation is 12 minutes from the beach and only 50 meters from the town square and 5 km from the bus station. Rooms have cable TV, free wifi and breakfast for an extra charge of S/6.

The hostel is run by a charming couple that offers all kinds of information about the city. There are also excursions to the Ballestas Islands and the ruins that give the hotel its name. The room rounds the S/ 80 (US$ 25). hostaltambocolorado. com/

where to sleep Pisco, hotels in Pisco

Villa Manuelita Hostel***

This hostel is located about 100 meters from the church of the Society of Jesus, the church of San Clemente and the Municipal Square. Rooms offer cable TV, free wifi and the price includes a continental breakfast. It also offers a tourist information counter and luggage storage service. The price of the double room is S/140 (US$ 43,5). Telephone: +51 (056)80834. Email:

where to sleep Pisco, hotels in Paracas

Hostel San Isidro

This small but well furnished accommodation is 2 minutes drive from the town square, with restaurant and outdoor swimming pool. The rooms have free wifi, cable TV and private bathroom, with a fully equipped common kitchen. It also has a reception with terrace, bar and games room. The room rounds the S/ 72 (US$ 22,5). sanisidrohostal. com/ (inoperative website)

where to sleep Pisco, hotels in Paracas

Hotels in Paracas

DoubleTree by Hilton Resort Paracas*****

This luxurious hotel is located next to the Paracas National Reserve and offers luxury suites, spa, fitness center, free Wi-Fi and water sports facilities. The rooms have balconies overlooking the sea or the indoor swimming pool, kitchen area, living room and TV via LCD cable. Its restaurant offers dishes based on local fish and seafood. A garden view suite around the S/605 (US$ 189). hiltonhotels. com/

where to sleep Paracas, hotels in Paracas

Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort*****

This is one of the most luxurious options to stay in Paracas, also located in front of the National Reserve and with beautiful sea views. One of the most exclusive offers offered by this hotel is a yacht trip to the ecological sanctuaries of the Ballestas Islands, from its own private dock. It also has two swimming pools, spa lounge, bar, restaurant specializing in Peruvian food and Italian Trattoria, and conference room with capacity for 500 people. The double room with garden views round the S/ 815 (US$ 254). hotelparacasresort. com/

where to sleep Paracas, hotels in Paracas

Hacienda Bahia Paracas******

Accommodation located next to the bay of Paracas, with panoramic ocean views and rustic rooms with private terrace where you can contemplate the beautiful sunsets. The rooms are air-conditioned and have access to the outdoor swimming pool. The hotel also has spa treatments or massages, and the restaurant El Coral, specialized in traditional Peruvian dishes and local fish and seafood. The double room with views of the garden around the S/ 765. Hotelslahacienda. com/hotel-bahia-paracas/

where to sleep Pisco, hotels in Paracas

If after visiting the wonderful ecological sanctuaries of Paracas you want to continue to Ica, Nazca or Arequipa, you can take the buses of Ormeño and Flores from Pisco.

If you are coming to Pisco or Paracas from a bus that is heading south, you should indicate that you stop at the San Clemente exit. From there you can take fast buses (shared) for about S/5 to the Plaza de Armas de Pisco and for S/10 to the center of Paracas.

In the city of Ica you can discover several attractions, including the famous Pisco Route and the oasis of Huacachina, where you can practice various sand sports such as Sandboarding and tubular buggies.

Esteban García, Peru Travels Blog
January 2018

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