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Paracas: beaches, islands & National Reserve

After a thrilling time in the desert, we continued north to Paracas, a little beach/fishing town with a beautiful natural reserve. I didn’t have high expectations but the fact that they had a restaurant with a vegan menu excited me.

Things were off to a rocky start when we arrived at night and I couldn’t find my hotel. I had it marked on Google Maps but the street it was on didn’t go through to the main street. Walking in circles dragging my suitcase, I asked the hotel that was planted right where the through street was supposed to be but they had no clue. So I finally went around hoping I would connect to the street and find my hotel. I finally did but the room was tiny, and had an awful shower that spilled water out directly on the floor, so I wasn’t pleased.

The next morning I went to check on another hotel that gave Peru Hoppers a discount and it ended up being the same price for a much better room. I moved over there and headed out for lunch. I ate at Restaurant Paracas multiple times in my two days there. There were a few hiccups with the staff not speaking much English or knowing what vegan really means. But they definitely get an A+ for offering a full on vegan menu with traditional Peruvian food and some fun things like veggie burgers. They even made me a latte with canned soy milk, but it was kind of weird and I didn’t believe that it was soy milk until they showed me the can.

My favorite meal was the vegan lomo saltado made with veggie meat. When I was there they were finishing construction on the top floor for an exclusively vegan restaurant. I really hope it’s successful. There are a few other places with vegan options but not much. Fruzion makes great smoothies. When you are only staying a couple of days you can make do with these options or great bread and avocado from the market.

Included in my Peru Hop excursions was a visit to the Paracas National Reserve, Peru’s oldest marine reserve. It was very beautiful and more stunning than I imagined it would be. We had a wonderfully clear day! It’s mostly desert coastline with a cool rock formation called La Catedral and red sand beaches. If you want to get some exercise and be able to explore more thoroughly you can rent a bike to tour around the reserve.

You can take a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands, but I decided to skip it to save money. Here you can see sea lions, dolphins, and many species of birds (that may crap on your head so be careful!).

A highlight of this part of my trip was hanging out with a group of young Danish kids. They were so mature and interesting I didn’t even realize they weren’t even in college yet. They told me about this magical place called Denmark where healthcare and education are free, guns are outlawed, families sit around the dinner table every night eating wholesome food, there are no fast food chains on every corner, no 1% and nobody is poor (if you make under a certain minimum the government pays YOU to make up the difference). These kids were not at all like the kids in America (I didn’t see but one pick up their phone the entire time we were out!) and they were proud of the country they live in. What a concept.

So, Paracas was pretty awesome. A couple of days is plenty but it wouldn’t be bad for a longer stay.

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  1. I had a similar experience chatting a couple of German kids in Lesotho, who I ended up eating Thanksgiving dinner with. They were both just out of high school and were taking a gap year to volunteer at a community center in Lesotho. I couldn’t believe how mature they were for their age.

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