Paracas Peru and the Islas Ballestas are a must see on your Peruvian itinerary. I share the things to see and do in Paracas to help you decide how long you should stay in Paracas. Read the naked truth about Paracas (that nobody talks about) to find out more.
After 4 weeks, my epic trip around Peru, Chile and Bolivia came to a close. I had managed to do all the things I mentioned in my 7 reasons to visit South America and I still had 4 days to spare to find a way to go from Cusco to Lima. Although I could fly direct to Lima, I had good experiences with bussing in Peru, therefore I decided to take a night bus from Cusco and hop off in Huacachina for the sand dunes. I wondered if I should visit Paracas too? A visit to the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve sounded nice. Although I knew you can visit the two sights within the day, I decided to spend my last 2 nights in Peru along the Pacific coast. Although I really enjoyed the tours around Paracas, I’d like to tell you the truth about Paracas. Peru. The naked truth that is. I hope it helps you answer the question: “how long should I stay in Paracas, Peru?”
Read more: Top Things to do in Paracas Peru
Expectations for Paracas, Peru
I left Huacachina in the blazing sunshine. Finally, after 4 weeks of harsh, cold, windy weather at great altitude, I was wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops. Hurray for the desert and sea level! I felt excited to go visit Paracas and looked forward to 2 days in the Paracas Hotel a Luxury Collection Resort and loads of fun things to do! I was traveling together with a new friend and was looking forward to diner and lunches together. Maybe pick up a souvenir or two and just enjoy some lazing at the pool or beach in the Peruvian sun.
The weather in Paracas Peru
As soon as we approached the turn off from the Pan America Highway, the sky turned greyish. Or more an off-greenish colour. The sun disappeared and temperatures dropped a few degrees. We rolled into the Paracas bus station and hopped off. With our bags, we strolled into town and got a bit of a shock by the look of the place. 1 Big street connects one end of town with the other. As we were walking, several taxis asked if we needed a lift.
The place looked deserted. A few people sat outside their shops or leaned into their cars but the main square was empty. No shops or restaurants, not any stalls or touts and no tourist booths. Nothing. And I can’t blame them. The place looked depressing but that wasn’t the only thing. It was like Paracas is covered with a thick blanket of heavy smell. The smell of rotten algae prickled our noses but also felt thick on our skin. As if we were wading through the smell and couldn’t shake it off.
The smell prevents you from taking deep breaths. You try to breathe a shallow breath. All of a sudden, you’re not hungry anymore just thirsty as your tong sticks to the back of your throat.
Where to eat in Paracas, Peru?
I tried to get some cash and was only successful on my 3rd try. After this, we tried to get some lunch. We walked towards the sea front and found more closed shops and empty restaurants. The beach looked deserted apart from dirt, rubbish and the famous Paracas guano. The smell got even ticker here. It got in my cloths and in my hair. Did we really want to eat here?
We had no choice. There were only a couple of places open, so we opted for the place to the far end of the beach. Prices in Paracas skyrocket and it’s amazing how little food you’ll get for your soles.
Dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day were even worse. We had such big troubles in finding a place where they would want to serve us food and not charge us over 50 Soles for a meal and actually waiter on us. We sat in the popular pizza place for 20 minutes and walked out because we couldn’t find anybody to take our order.
The next place, the owner wanted us to eat soup without a spoon. It was hilarious but very stereotype for all places we went in Paracas. The local people are very eager to make a few bucks when they see a few tourists, but they do not care if you like the food or have a good experience because they know you’ll never going to come back anyways. As Paracas is very expensive food-wise, it is a deciding factor for how long you should stay in Paracas.
Read more: Chocolate Museum in Cusco Peru
How to get around Paracas, Peru?
Getting around Paracas is actually pretty easy. You’ll arrive by bus, boat or own transport. You walk everywhere in town during the day and when it gets dark or you’re carrying a heavy bag, you ask for a taxi. Basically everywhere around town is 10 Soles but you’ll might be able to haggle the driver down to 8 Soles. All taxi drivers I encountered asked me how long should I stay in Paracas? They all wanted to give me their private number, so I could call them if I’d need a taxi again. They are desperate for some customers and they are the only people in Paracas who actually try to display some sort of customer service.
Read more: Peruvian or Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca?
Where to stay in Paracas, Peru?
We booked a tour to visit the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Reserve the next day and I checked into my hotel. If you’d like to read more about the hotel, check my review of the Paracas Hotel a Luxury Collection Resort. In all honesty, to answer your question “how long should I stay in Paracas, Peru?” there is absolutely no reason to stay 2 nights in Paracas in Peru. But if you do decide to do it, your best bet is to stay at the Paracas Luxury Collection Resort. I think my luxury escape made Paracas bearable and gave me some unforgettable memories of Paracas.
If you’d like things a bit more budget, I can highly recommend the Kokopeli Backpackers Hostel in Paracas. I had good experiences with the Kokopeli Hostel in Cusco and had a look around the Kokopeli Backpackers Hostel in Paracas too. They have a pool, bar, book and DVD exchange and great rooms with a lot of privacy.
So what about the naked truth about Paracas, Peru?
I started this post with the intention to give you the naked truth about Paracas. No idea what I mean with that? I’ll try to paint the picture. Image you’re sitting in an empty restaurant, having breakfast. All of a sudden, you’ll see a dark shade moving in the corner of your eye. It moves on 4 feet and meanders around the tables. You’ll look again and drop your fork in horror. What you’ll see is the ugliest and terrifying dog you’ve ever seen!
Now it’s time to put down that sandwich you’re eating…
Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. My love contains big dogs and small ones. I like dogs with big ears, small ears or even half ears. With tails or without. I like fluffy dogs or spotted ones. And I don’t mind if they smell, drool or enthusiastic jump up against your shoulders and nock you over. And I though I loved all dogs.. but not the hairless dogs in Paracas.
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The dogs of Paracas, Peru
In Paracas almost all dogs are naked. Yes, that is right naked, without hair. And no, not the cute Chihuahua “lets-put-a-cute-pink-sweater-on-it” kind of naked. No. The dogs in Paracas are chunky and bulky. They are dark grey or black with even darker callus skin on them. And they are naked. No fur, just a shiny, oily skin. The dog we encountered at the restaurant was limping. Her right behind leg was swollen and had pestering soars on it. There was a green substance leaking from her ear and both her eyes looked bloodshed. Yellow puss and blood was festering from one eye, with the other eye she looked crossed eyed at us. She looked possessed by evil and nakedness. It is safe to say I didn’t finish my breakfast that morning.
And the thing is: almost all dogs we met in Paracas, Peru are like that. The naked dogs overrun the whole town! They stroll along the beach, walk up to you at the seaside and look at you from the square.
The truth about Paracas, Peru
Should you visit Paracas? My answer is: Yes! Well, the Islas Ballestas are fun and exciting and they make a great morning boat tour of the shore and the islands. And it is amazing to see so many birds and marine life all together. The Paracas National Reserve is an excellent tour as well. You see parts of the desert you’ll not see anywhere else in Peru and these attractions are 2 good reasons why you should visit Paracas.
Read more: Releasing seals back into the wild.
But how long should I stay in Paracas, Peru?
Althoug Paracas is fun and should not be missed, there is absolutely no reason at all to stay in Paracas longer than the duration of the two tours. The smell is horrible, the place looks like a ghost town outside the tour hours and the prices are exorbitant. Naked dogs roam the streets that scare the guano out of you, bird poo and dirt everywhere and the food is very limited.
I did have a very good time and I am glad I planned a visit to Paracas Peru. I stayed in a fancy hotel, took the two tours and laughed a lot because I could not believe how strange Paracas is. Are you looking for a unique experience in Peru? Do you want to see some (naked) wildlife and explore more of the Pacific Ocean? Then you should definitely visit Paracas in Peru too!
Have you ever been to a strange place where you were surprised by many odd things? Please share your story too! I’d love to hear it.
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