When people speak about everything that lies at the coast and South of Lima, the town names popping up will probably be Paracas, Ica and Nazca. Nazca is home to the famous Nazca lines, in order to truly see these geoglyphs you will have to take a plane. To our knowledge the flight costs around 80€. Although the Nazca lines are Unesco World Heritage, we left them out in order to save money, therefore we cannot tell you more than the price. In the following we are going to give brief summaries about Paracas and Ica, which we did indeed visit.
Paracas is a 6 hours drive south from Lima. Paracas is a pretty small town. The main attraction is the Paracas National Park. The park is a desert with many beautiful beach spots. The best way to visit the park is on a bike. Include the Centro de Interpretación on your bike ride, as this research center teaches you a lot about the region, it’s nature and also the danger that the Peruvian coast is in, due to global warming.
Another main attraction in Paracas is a boat ride to Islas Ballestas. On this trip to the ,so called “Poor man’s Galapagos” islands, you are supposed to see bottlenose dolphins, penguins and other animals. We had the opportunity to visit Galapagos and therefore decided to leave Islas Ballestas out. We still wanted to mention these islands, as many backpackers do recommend this trip. The price for this trip is supposed to be 8€.
Paracas doesn’t have countless hostels, but there is definitely enough option. On average a dorm will cost you 10€ and a private a bit under 20€. We had a good time at “Backpackers Paracas”, which is a decent hostel with a shared kitchen, which for us is always essential.
Ica / Huacachina:
Most visitors come to Ica simply to see the oasis of Huacachina, which lies at the border of the city. Social Media made this photogenic oasis famous and therefore expect hordes of tourists. Although Sand boarding down the dunes for 2€ was an amazing experience, for our taste the oasis is way too touristy and kind of fake. The tiny oasis is extremely full of hostels and restaurants, screaming tourist trap.
Worth going? In our opinion it’s not a shame to miss out on it, but if you have the time then go for sand boarding and do some nice pictures from the top of the dunes. No need to stay over night though.
Ica on the other site is a pretty big city, very chaotic and full of traffic. We didn’t explore it in detail, but there are basically no other sightseeing spots than Huacachina.