Peru is not only Machu Picchu and the Inca’s, there is so much more to see in this vast country, considered one of the most biodiverse on the planet. Have you considered the Amazon Jungle with everything for the nature and animal lover. Alternatively, the Arequipa area complete with Colca Canyon where you will see the mighty Condor flying overhead. Why not travel to the northern coast of Peru and visit the archaeological sites of Chan Chan and Senor de Sipan. All can be visited on a Peruvian Vacation. However, in this article we will take you on a journey to an area south of Lima where you will find the Paracas National Reserve.
Travel south from Lima around 4 hours and you will come to the seaside town of Paracas. The town has only a few houses and a few hotels with fabulous views of the ocean but what most people travel to the area is to see is the Ballestas Islands. These islands and the rest of the Paracas Wildlife Reserve create a safe place for many creatures to live, breed and play. A short speedboat ride from the town of Pisco are thousands upon thousands of birds of different varieties that call the islands home. The tour will take you close to the islands to witness the birds in their native environment. Some if the species of birds you may expect to see are the Peruvian Pelican, Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Booby, different varieties of Cormorants and the Inca Tern. For the bird lover the Ballestas Islands are a paradise to be hold. Not only will you see the birds but the islands are home to the “South American Sea Lion” The Sea Wolf, though they are slow moving on land, the Sea Wolf is a very effective hunter in the ocean. The Sea Wolves will often come and play around tour boats, and at the right time of day, their barks and calls will create a deafening chorus ringing from every corner of the islands.
Around the islands in early spring (August to October) Humpback whales can be seen on their way north for mating season. Once nearly extinct, these majestic creatures have made a remarkable recovery and are stable which today is an inspirational story of conservation.
If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of this rare species of otter, which is the smallest mammal that lives exclusively in saltwater, very little is known about this elusive creature, including the number remaining in the wild. Both poaching and hunting threaten the marine otter, making nature reserves such as Paracas essential to their continued survival.
Not far from Paracas is the desert oasis of Huacachina, here there are many things to enjoy. For the adventure seekers, take a dune buggy tour on the sand dunes, the dunes at Huacachina are some of the biggest in the world. The desert oasis also features a lake where you can take a refreshing dip after you sand dune adventure.
Around 3 hours’ drive south of Paracas you will arrive at the small desert town of Nazca, the Nazca area receives virtually no rain fall all year round, making the town a dry dusty place. The climate is pleasant never getting cold and always warm. The town became famous early in the 20th Century when archaeologist discovered the lines drawn in the desert floor.
What are the Nazca Lines, you may ask; the lines are geoglyphs or drawings on the ground made by removing rocks and earth to create an image. The desert floor has weathered over thousands of years so when the upper rocks were removed they reveal a light sand colored rock, the light colored rock is how we see the lines. Because of the dry climate, the lines have been preserved for more than 500 to 2000 years. Scientists believe that the lines were made by the Nazca people, from around AD 10 to 700.
The lines were discovered in the 1930s when two pilots flying a commercial flight saw the lines and reported them to the Peruvian government. In the 1940s American Professor Paul Kosok investigated the lines, when the sun was setting he noticed that the sunset was in direct alignment with the lines, he called the lines the largest astronomy book in the world. The Nazca Lines Mystery is one of the greatest of all time there are scientist who are still working on the mystery today.
The best time to visit Peru, Ballestas Islands and the Nazca Lines will depend on your vacation time, but there in no best time as the weather is great all year round. Summer in Peru on the coast is from December to March and the temperatures can be hot and humid.
Paracas and the Nazca lines are part of the Paracas National Reserve, located on the coast south of Peru the reserve is home to hundreds of species of birds and wildlife. The town of Paracas is a resort town with many luxury hotels featuring. If you have the time than spend a few days, relaxing in one of the oceanfront resorts. The summer months are the best time to visit Paracas if you plan to spend a few days.
Do not miss the Paracas National Reserve on your vacation to the wonderful Andean country of Peru.