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Dunes overlooking Huacachina

A guide to Paracas and Huacachina Peru | Poor man’s Galápagos and Sand boarding

Join us in August 2022 for a tour of Paracas and Huacachina

There are many reasons to visit Paracas and Huacachina in southern Peru. The coastal town of Paracas is a world-famous beach town, which offers cheap accommodations and lots of different activities. Its popularity has led to a surge in development, with many hotels and resorts built in recent years. However, the town still retains its laid-back charm. Not only is it the perfect place to relax after a hectic day exploring the ancient ruins nearby, but it’s also a fantastic base for exploring other sites like Nazca. Paracas is an ancient settlement located south of Lima on the shores of the Peruvian coast. It’s known as one of the last remaining vestiges of the great Inca Empire that once stretched across South America and Central America – which makes it an ideal destination for anyone looking for an exciting insight into ancient South American cultures beyond all that Machu Picchu has to offer. Here we explore everything you need to know about these hidden paradise destinations…

Land bridge formed by the sea
Some of the unique seascape at the Ballestas Islands - Watch for penguins crossing here!

How do I get to Paracas and Huacachina? Can I get there from Lima?

If you’re looking to get to Paracas and Huacachina from Lima, take a bus from the terminal station in Lima, or fly into either airport. The bus ride is about 4 hours long and should cost somewhere between $10-20 USD. To get to Huacachina from Lima, you can also take a taxi – something that will cost about $50 USD one way and will take 4 hours. Huacachina is around 5 hours away by bus from the capital city of Lima. There are direct buses available from Lima’s main terminal station, but they may not be direct, so it’s best to ask the driver if he can stop at Huacachina on the way there. Many will go through Paracas on the way to Lima and then direct from Huacachina to Lima on their return; this entire trip can be completed in a day. The flight option is often much more expensive than any other forms of transportation. In fact, flights tend to be pricey because they involve travelling via plane, which is still an expensive mode of transport when compared to driving your own car in Peru with limited options to Paracas and Huacachina.

What types of sea life and birds can I expect to see at the Ballestas Islands?

The Ballestas Islands are not only a paradise for seabirds, predominantly the Nazca booby, but also offer opportunities to see all sorts of marine life. You can expect to spot dolphins, whales, and even sea turtles in the waters surrounding the archipelago. Even more beautiful is the fact that it’s surrounded by tranquil clear blue ocean, which makes it an ideal destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of overcrowded tourist destinations like Cuzco or Lima. They are also home to many types of marine life, including: Penguins, Sea lions, Whales, Dolphins, Sharks, Seabirds, Sea stars, Sea snails, Octopus and Sea cucumbers.

Sea Lions can often be seen sitting here

Are there tours that leave right from Paracas to the Ballestas Islands? Or should I take a tour from Lima?

Unfortunately, there are no tours that leave right from Lima by boat to the Ballestas Islands. You will need to take a bus or taxi to Paracas harbour and catch a speedboat to visit the islands. The most popular way of visiting the islands is taking a tour that leaves from Lima but transports you to Paracas and then on to the Huacachina Oasis.

Sand dunes at Huacachina
Sand dunes of Huacachina
What do I need to bring for a day-long tour from Lima to see Paracas and Huacachina?

The journey between Lima and Paracas takes around four hours by bus. From there, you’ll be brought on to a boat that takes you on the Pacific Ocean to the Ballestas Islands. Then on to Huacachina to enjoy sports like sand boarding and can go on a sand dune tour in a high performance dune buggy. You should wear comfortable clothes, sunblock, and a hat as it will be sunny in Peru most days if you are travelling during the summer months. If you’re coming from abroad, make sure to bring your passport with you as well as any other documents that may be required for entry into Peru. In a small backpack, bring water, snacks and a powerbank to charge your mobile phone as you can easily drain the battery from taking photos!

How far is Huacachina from Paracas and is there anything to see along the way?

The inland, desert town of Huacachina is approximately an hour’s drive from Paracas – but the scenery and adventure along the way makes it worth every minute. There are many activities to do in Huacachina, including sand boarding, horseback riding, and dune buggy rides. You can also visit the ancient ruins at nearby Paracas, which is a UNESCO-protected site and considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru.

The Huacachina Oasis looks beautiful but is it really as picturesque as it looks?

Huacachina is a small town on the coast of southern Peru, which looks like it could be a picture-perfect oasis. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of South America, with thousands of visitors arriving here every day. But is Huacachina really as picturesque as it looks? The short answer is yes, but beware that trademark photos of the Huacachina Oasis are without the crowds and the Oasis is quite small with three sides surrounded by houses and other buildings. The bottom line is that Huacachina and Paracas are both fantastic destinations that offer great opportunities to relax, get an adrenalin rush or explore ancient cultures and history. The amenities are just slightly more limited at Huacachina for those who prefer a more relaxed, laid-back experience.

Huacachina Oasis
A candid view of the Huacachina Oasis
How far from the Huacachina Oasis is the sand boarding? Can my group of 11 people fit in a single dune buggy?

Though Huacachina is a small town, it’s packed with activities and attractions. The dunes are the main draw here, with sand boarding being one of the most popular activities for travellers to enjoy. It’s important to note that this activity is not accessible from Paracas; instead, you need to use the neighbouring town of Huacachina itself. If you’re wondering how far away sand boarding is from Huacachina, it’s about 10 minutes walk from the Oasis in Huacachina. The dune buggies hold 12 people including the driver, so large groups can easily be accommodated – and it’s possible to book them onsite without preplanning but be sure to book your trip well in advance as they do fill up quickly!

Dune buggy tracks in the sand at Huacachina
Making tracks a high perforance dune buggy

If you are looking for a cheap hotel or resort in Peru, make sure to book through MixViajes.com we gather the lowest prices from over 50 websites to bring you the best prices possible! 

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