Paracas is a port district capital of the southern coast of Peru, capital of the district of the same name, in the province of Pisco, within the department of Ica. Paracas, covers an area of 335,000 hectares, of which 117,406 are land and 217,594 are marine waters.

Visitors to Paracas like to observe the different ecosystems and the archeological remains of the Paracas culture. Paracas was the place where San Martín disembarked and the great diversity of marine fauna existing in the area.

It is located on the east coast of the bay of Paracas, to the north of the peninsula of the same name. It is located 22 km south of Pisco, 75 km from Ica and 261 km from Lima. Its climate has an average annual temperature of 22 °C and is mostly sunny. It is a very windy territory whose very strong sand-carrying air currents, known as paracas, have an average speed of 25 km/h and maximums of 60 km/h.


Paracas National Reserve

The Paracas National Reserve was created on September 25, 1975. This is the only protected natural area in Peru with different ecosystems. In 1991 it was declared Regional Reserve for migratories birds.

ParacasIs important for the protection of both bird life on the Paracas Peninsula and marine life in the sea.
Paracas National Reserve is located in the department of Ica, province of Pisco, district of Paracas and has a surface of 340,000 hectares, but 217,594 belong to the sea. Is about 15km south from Pisco.
This reserve crounts on a very rich diversity of birds which are residents, migratories and endemics. Birds diversity includes: the playero blanco (Calidris mauri), the playero semipalmado (Calidris pusilla), the charlo (Charadius semipalmatus), the flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), among others. We can also find sea birds such as the peruvian piquero (Sula vanegata) the guanay (Phala crocorax bougainvillii), the pelican (Pelecanus thagus), and the the peruvian seagull (Sterna lorata).

The San Gallan and La Vieja Islands are the only places for the potoyunco (Pelecanoides garnottii) to reproduce in Peru. The popular penguin of Humboldt (Spheniscus Humboldt) and the potoyunco are in danger of extinction. We can also observe the condor (Voltur gryphus).

Among the most impressive mammals living in the Paracas National Reserve it is necessary to mention the several species of seals, for example the mongler seal (Otarya bironia) and the fine seal (Arctoc phalus australis) as well as the sea cat or chigungo (Lutra felino) which is in danger of extinction.

Ecosystem and Fauna

We can also observe the coastal wolf (Pseudalopex sechurae), that sometimes you can see it walking through the desert next to the beach, bats are found in the coast too. With regard to reptiles we find lizards (Microlophus peruvianus). Some sea turtles live in the waters of the area basically during El Niño, among the turtles living there are the green turtle (Chelonia agassizzii) and the small sea turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea). Likewise the are general ecosystems like in Cerro Lechuza, Morro Quemado and San Gallán, in the sea there are seaweeds like viva fasciata and viva papenfusii.

The area within the Reserve played an important role in the Peruvian economy during the mid-nineteenth century. Vast quantities of ‘guano’ (birds’ droppings) produced by the seabirds was exported to Europe for use as fertilizer. For many decades this industry was Peru’s most important source of revenue.

Next to Paracas National Reserve, is located near the port of El Chaco, from where small boats set sail for the Ballestas Islands. Halfway out to sea we can see the famous “Candelabro”, a quite unusual figure etched into the desert which could be related to the Nazca hieroglyphics; although some people believe that it was made by pirates.

Ballestas Islands

Islas BallestasThe Ballestas Islands are islands in the Pacific Ocean, close to the South America continental coast of Peru. Although the islands fall just outside the Paracas National Reserve they are protected by separate legislation. The islands are home to over 160 species of marine bird including the Humboldt penguin, cormorants, boobies and pelicans. On the shores can be seen large numbers of sea-lions and in the sea it is possible to encounter dolphins and even whales.

The quantity of birds was particularly obvious from the huge amount of guano, covering the red rock of the islands with baked white clay – which, surprisingly enough, used to be Peru’s main industry, used extensively by Europeans for fertiliser. there are still a few guano factories on the islands, which guys live on for two months at a time like oil riggers.

These islands and cliffs are clearly a rocky paradise for wildlife and are definitely an essential visit for anyone interested in wildlife.


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