Desert Paradise – Paracas, Peru


Route Ica, Peru – Paracas, Peru (1S, 614)
Distance 142Km
Travel Time 1 .8hours
Road Conditions Ok tarmack
Weather Clear
Terrain Desert , sand dunes
Food and Petrol Frequent
Accommodation Paracas Backpackpers House, Paracas

140 Kilometres further up the Panamericana we stop in at Paracas. This is a pleasant little town in the desert, right on the sea front. There’s a selection of hostels and hotels, many of them relatively expensive but we get a comfy cabin for two at Paracas Backpackers House (35PEN/dbl discounted) with bike parking in the lobby. Alberto, the owner, is a lovely guy, ready to help with anything and he also sells tours to the local attractions at cost price.


Paracas, as he tells us, is named after the indigenous words Para Acas, meaning literally Rain of Sand. This is because the westerly winds bring in a rain of sand from the sand-sune peninsula sticking out into the ocean in front of the town. Also he enlightens us that the town of Pisco slightly further North is the origin of the famous Latinoamerican Pisco spirit (comparable to Grappa). The good spirit, which was brewed there and occasionally sent back to Spain in large jars, had no name and was referred to there simply as Pisco. This brew eventually spread throughout this side of South America and is often confused to have originated in the Elqui Valley in Chile.



There are more stories he imparts to us, concerning the subterranean rivers in the area that make life in this desert feasible, and I suggest that you have a chat with him for more of these interesting facts.



We book ourselves on some of the tours on offer at Alberto’s. We head out to the bird islands by boat and by bus out into the surrounding desert. There’s a visit to the local museum, which gives plenty of information on the local ecology as well as the fascinating history of the bird-shit-trade, of all things! The dense population of Pelicans and other birds in these parts provided a huge reserve of bird dung, which for many years was sold abroad at a handsome price as agricultural fertilizer. Of course, as he has done with all other resources given to him by sweet mother nature, man went on to pillage the area clean of this valuable material and the trade died off.



The tours on offer at Paracas Backpackers are cheap, informative and totally recommendable! The sites you see are beautiful and the information you receive will enrich the experience of your visit to this place.



Other activities in the area include top conditions for kite surfing.


I must sadly note, though, that fishing off the shore here proved a waste of time. The locals clearly knew of better places.

At the hostel we make friends with plenty of other travellers, some French, some Germans, Swiss, American, Spanish and even a couple of South Africans. We cook in the common kitchen (some good grocery stores right nearby) and enjoy meals, drinks and good conversation into the late hours.


One night we head out to the Pizza bar down the road, run by a Kiwi woman and her Peruvian partner. This turns out to be a lot of fun, with dancing and laughs. This night, I give birth to a new drink: the Pisco Suicide….

With fond memories of Thailand resurfacing, my mischievous mind managed to twist several of our new friends’ arms into trying this new shooter, whereby you sniff the salt, drink the Pisco and put the lemon into your eyes (not very original I know). None the less, even the bar owners are in the game and everybody ends up bawling their eyes out in excruciating pain for a few minutes. Mission accomplished!
(No pictures unfortunately. If any of the attendees wish to send me one I’ll publish it.)


Paracas, in combination with this great little hostel, is one of the little jewels of South America.