Paracas National Reserve: 2024 Updated information about the Paracas National Reserve in Paracas and everything you need to know from how to get there, where to stay, frequently asked questions and much more!

Paracas National Reserve Brief Summary:

  • The Paracas National Reserve is a protected natural area consisting of desert, ocean and islands giving STUNNING views!
  • Spanning over 3,350 km², it is home to over 400 species of flora and fauna, including the Humboldt penguin, the Peruvian booby, sea lions, humpback whales and dolphins.
  • Paracas is accessible by bus only, Peru Hop was voted as best way to get there by Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet
  • Entry to the Reserve costs around $5 USD, but you must be accompanied by a local guide and you must have transport. Peru Hop includes a stop at Paracas National Reserve for free.
  • Golden Shadows Trek, a tour of the reserve as the sunsets on the cliffs giving incredible views, is going viral in Peru. More info here

Below we have created our extensive guide to the Paracas National Reserve based on our expert local knowledge having helped to transport over 315,000 travellers here since our formation in 2013.

Paracas National Reserve Guide Contents:

  1. How to get to the Paracas National Reserve – Transport information.
  2. What to bring to the National Reserve? – Be prepared for your tour.
  3. What else to do in Paracas? – Advise on what to do after your tour of the Paracas National Reserve.
  4. Frequently Asked Questions – We answer your frequently asked questions.
  5. Where To Stay – The best hotel/hostel options.
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How To Get To The Paracas National Reserve

The natural reserve is located along the coast of Paracas, a small fishing town in the Ica Region. Paracas is a 4hour drive south off Lima and the only way of accessing the town is via bus. Once in Paracas, the reserve is a short journey away. It is near impossible to visit the reserve independently as a large part of the reserve is covered by desert, the road is unpaved and sandstorms are a frequent occurrence. We strongly suggest traveling with a tour.

Peru Hop Bus

Fortunately, when you travel with Peru Hop, this tour is included! We offer day trips to Paracas, which include a tour of the reserve and the Ballestas Islands. The Paracas tour is also included in our unique hop-on hop-off bus pass which takes travelers from Lima to Cusco and everywhere in between. Peru Hop also offer hotel/hostel pick-ups at most places which takes the stress out of trying to get to a public bus terminal.

Public Bus

Taking a public bus houses issues of its own. There are only a few bus companies who run direct service to Paracas and choosing a safe and reliable one can be challenging. Once you have decided on the company, you must get from your accommodation to the bus terminal. This will either involve taking overcrowded public transport or a taxi, where you will have to haggle a price with the driver who may be trying to rip you off. Upon arrival to Paracas you must find a tour operator to book your tour to the national reserve with. Again, many local operators are notorious for selling tours at inflated prices to tourists. Peru Hop advises to exercise caution when booking a tour. Make sure the company is reliable and safe with licensed drivers and bilingual guides!

What To Bring

The Paracas National Reserve is a calm and pleasant tour that does not require a whole lot. However, there are a few things to remember to ensure your trip is both memorable and comfortable!

  • Hat/cap
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Although the weather in Paracas tends to be pleasant all year around, December – February are often exceptionally hot so be sure to dress in light clothes. The ‘winter’ months are a little cooler out at sea so warmer clothes are advised
  • A light jacket should be packed to combat increasing winds throughout the day
  • Camera/phone to capture the beauty of the reserve

What Else To Do In Paracas

Paracas tends to be the first destination for many who are travelling through Peru. Its location makes it a good stopping point between Lima and the famous Huacachina oasis desert. Peru Hop suggests staying overnight in Paracas to really appreciate all the town has to offer. Below are some recommendations on what to do after your National Reserve Tour.

The Ballestas Islands

Commonly known as “Peru’s Galapagos”, the rocky islands are home to thousands of birds and mammals including penguins, sea lions, Inca terns, pelicans and dolphins. Take a speedboat tour from the dock in Paracas and witness nature take fold. The islands are protected meaning they cannot be walked on by visitors, and rightly so. This is what makes the islands so beautiful. They are untouched and allow the flora and fauna to exist in their natural state. The boats do get very close to the mammals with some being touching distance away from the sleepy sealions who inhibit most of the rocky formations. Peru Hop does not operate the boat tours but work closely with a reliable and safe company who exercise responsible tourism and respect the protected nature of the islands. The tour lasts approx. 2 hours and includes a bilingual guide and lifejackets.


Within the Ica Region lies the only natural oasis desert in South America. Only a short bus journey form Paracas, Huacachina is guaranteed to ignite the adventurer in you! This small oasis town is packed with activities, bars and restaurants to tickle everyone’s fancy. Peru Hop offer 1, 2 and 3-day trips allowing passengers to visit both Paracas and Huacachina. These destinations are also included in the many hop-on hop-off passes available. The main activity in Huacachina is dune buggie and sandboarding. The tour begins at 4pm and lasts 2 hours, ensuring you are sitting on the tallest sand dune just in time for sunset. Bliss!

Pisco vineyard

This tour shows you the magic behind Peru’s national drink, Pisco! The Pisco province, inside the Ica Region is home to beautiful vineyards, producing the juiciest and freshest grapes that gives Pisco its cutting edge. Spend the afternoon tasting different samples and learning about the history behind this famous drink. This tour is included in Peru Hop’s 3-day tour which also includes tours of the Paracas national reserve, Ballestas islands and buggie/sand boarding. There’s no better way of seeing these spectacular destinations!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the entrance ticket to the reserve included in your passes?

Yes, the entrance ticket is included, as well as the transport and tour.

Is it possible to do Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve on the same day?

Yes. The time you would have to go on the Ballestas Islands tour would depend on the direction you are traveling. The onboard guide will help you organize the tour if desired.

Is it possible to book a Paracas National Reserve with a tour operator?

Yes. The cost of the tour can start from 40 Peruvian Soles (roughly $12 USD) and some might not include the entrance ticket. Remember this is all included at no extra cost in all Peru Hop passes.