- Bring sunscreen, swimbath, walking shoes, flip-flops and light clothes.
- Take earplugs for the party-hostels.
- Withdraw cash in advance since there’s very few ATMs on the way.
- Always be in advance for the bus since it can leave without you.
- You can ask Peru Hop to upgrade your room or sleep at another hotel.
🚲 Getting there
We booked the Peru Hop Tour of three days, more details below.
It took us three days and two nights to visit Paracas, Huacachina and Nazca. Break it down would have been better since it involve a lot of driving.
Peru Hop 🚎
Being short on time, and tired of organizing, we decided to go with Peru Hop Tour, a system where we could go on-and-off of a touristic bus to visit different areas. Our pass included accomodations, transport and some touristic visits for a good 269$/person. They were also very responsive via mail to change plans last minute. While that was fuss-free, we didn’t really like it for the following reasons:
- Our schedule was very tight, and we didn’t realized up-front.
- There’s always around 40 people with you, big groups.
- The bus is not that comfortable, the one from Sucre to Uyuni was better.
- You can save some money if you do the same by yourself.
Long story short, it’s good if you’re alone and to avoid having to book activities, but all the rest is just ok.
Hacienda San Jose 🏠
The first day, we started our tour by an early pick-up at our hotel in Lima at 7AM. We drove until 8:40AM where we stopped for a basic breakfast (not included) at Mirasur Resort. Belly full, we carried on driving until 11:30AM to visit the slave tunnels in Hacienda San Jose.
We were suprised to find a beautiful colonial villa, with a huge park at the back, a pretty church at the front and big secret tunnels below which were used to move slaves around to avoid paying taxes. We went with the guide exploring the area before getting in the tunnels for 10 minutes. Avoid if you’re claustrophobic. This place would be fantastic for a night stay, but seems you have to book 6 months in advance.
Paracas islands 🐬
We jumped back in the bus and drove until 2PM where we stopped for the day in Paracas, a small, windy and sandy beach town. We checked-in at Hotel Residencial Los Frayles, and chill for the rest of the day nearby the swimming pool.
The next morning, we left our luggages at the hotel and went to the pier at 8AM for the Ballestas Island 2 hours boat tour. That’s a must do. After 40 minutes of boat, we arrived on the shores of the wild islands, where we spotted sea lions, penguins sun bathing, and thousands of birds like in the Nat Geo documentaries. Smells pretty bad but it’s fantastic, we both never saw that many birds at once.
We then went back to the hotel and chilled until 11AM where we got picked up for our second tour to the Paracas National Reserve. We drove in the big bus for 20 minutes and stopped at the Mirador de la Cathedral, to admire a massive rock in the sea looking apparently like a gorilla. We then headed to the Mirador Istmo, with a wonderful view on the red sand beach and vultures flying around us. Then, we went down to beach level to get another view before going back to the hotel to pick-up our luggages.
Huacachina hills 🏂
After our tour, we drove toward Huacachina for two hours. The place is very small looking like a public park, and is essencially an oasis surrounded by impressive very high sand hills. There’s nothing in the village beside hotels, restaurants and agencies. It’s also possible to swim in the little lake or do some pedalo.
Upon arrival, we went to check-in at our hotel, grabbed a quick sandwich and went to the buggy sandboarding meeting point. It lasted for two hours and felt like a massive roller-coaster. We jumped in the buggy, and went on top of the huge hills where the driver was going super fast on steep slopes (more than 70 degrees vertical). Between the rides, we did one photo stop, and two sand-boarding ones where we went down three huge hills, super thrilling!
Bring sun-glasses, flip-flops and prepare yourself mentally when the driver ask you to put your seatbelt. If you want to do sandboarding standing, go before in the city and rent a proper one. The board we got were super basic and only made to lie on.
Nazca Lines 〰
After a nice resting night, we went to the meeting point at 8:30AM and started our drive to Nazca. We arrived at the airport at 11AM, paid the 30S airport tax and started the checking process with Aeronasca. We gave our passports, left our bags behind the desk, got weighted to decide the seats, passed the security and boarded the tiny plane.
The super nice co-pilot introduced himself, gave us a little map of the things we will see while telling us the security briefing. Don’t eat before since it’s very bumpy, and also go with light clothes since it’s bloody hot in the plane. The flight was fantastic and lasted for 35 minutes. We saw very well the 10 different figures, and for each of those the pilot did a turn on both sides so it doesn’t matter where you sit (right is a bit better). It’s a very cool experience and we both agreed it worth it 100%! The landscape is also gorgeous.
After landing, we got our passports stamped for free, and started our 2h30 drive back. We stopped on the way to see the Palpa Lines for 5S from an observation tower. Less impressive but still nice! We then arrived in Huacachina around 5:30PM, grabbed our luggages and a take-away to then board the Peru Hop bus back to Lima where we arrived at midnight.
- Il Covo (Paracas): Good italian place with decent prices.
- Fruzion (Paracas): Smoothies, burgers and huge salads, 10% off via Peru Hop.
- Wild Olive (Huacachina): Huge pizzas and good pasta, 20% off via Peru Hop.
- Mamashana (Nazca): Basic but plenty of options for a decent price.