Ballestas Islands

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline

The Ballestas Islands are a group of small islands located off the Paracas peninsula. They are also known as “the Galapagos of Peru”, due to their abundant fauna and the impressive landscape they offer visitors.

Composed primarily of rock formations, these islands are an important sanctuary for marine fauna, such as the Guanay bird, the blue-footed booby, and the tendril: the number of birds is impressive.

Even more surprising is the number of sea lions, Humboldt penguins and dolphins that can be seen in this beautiful place.

1. How to get to Ballestas Islands/Paracas from Lima?

Ballestas islands is one of the most popular destinations in Peru, however before to get here, you must get to Paracas, which is the closest city to the Ballestas islands.

To go directly from Lima to Paracas it takes three hours and a half and there are only two bus companies:

If you take any other bus company that does not go directly to Paracas, but it passes close by, you must get off from the bus in a place known as ” desvio Paracas” where there are a lot of taxis that will transport you for 10 minutes to Paracas town(15 soles per cab).

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline. Map, to get from Lima to Paracas.
Map, to get from Lima to Paracas

2. How to get to Ballestas /Paracas from other departments?

There are several places from where you can travel close to Paracas (only terrestrial transport).

As l mentioned above, if the bus company does not go directly to Paracas, but it passes close by, you must get off from the bus in ” desvio Paracas”.

Between the safest bus companies l took and I can recommend to you, are:

I list all the options from where you can come from:

  • If you would like to go by bus from Ayacucho to Paracas. The buses leave between 8pm and 10pm and the trip lasts around 8 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
  • If you would like to go by bus from Arequipa to Paracas. The buses leave between 6pm and 10pm and the trip lasts around 12 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
  • If you would like to go by bus from Tacna to Paracas. The buses leave between 4 pm and 8 pm and the trip lasts around 15 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
  • If you would like to go by bus from Moquegua to Paracas. The buses leave between 6 pm and 10 pm and the trip lasts around 13 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
  • If you would like to go by bus from Cusco to Paracas. The buses leave between 4 pm and 8 pm and the trip lasts around 19 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).

  • If you would like to go by bus from Puno to Paracas. The buses leave between 4 pm and 8 pm and the trip lasts around 18 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).

Important note:

We do not have a commercial partnership with any of the bus companies mentioned in this guideline, we are not responsible for any misunderstanding or problem with said companies; The recommendations I make are based on my personal experience.

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline. Sea Lions in Paracas.
Sea Lions in Paracas

3. Where to sleep in Ballestas Islands/Paracas?

Wherever you come from, the base point to get to Ballestas islands is the town of Paracas; which is also the starting point for various excursions in the Ica department.

In Paracas town you will find from not really cheap hostels to much more comfortable hotels from 1 to 5 star.

One of the most important things, if not the most important of the trips, is the lodging. Normally this represents 50% or more of your expense and can make your stay unforgettable, in a good or bad way.

To book a hotel always keep the following in mind:

  • Location.
  • Access to public transport.
  • Cleaning.
  • Breakfast.
  • Free WIFI.
  • Room size.
  • Treatment of staff.
  • Quality of service.
  • Read reviews from other travelers.

If you want to do a incredible adventure in your way to Machu Picchu, here we show you great Machu Picchu tours you can experience.

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline.  Where to sleep in Paracas.

4. What to do in Paracas?

Paracas is located on the central coast of Peru, and in addition to the already famous Ballestas islands and Paracas National Reserve there is not much more to see; if you would like to book a Ballestas islands excursion directly in Paracas, there is a lot of travel agencies in the town.

4.1. Ballestas Islands from, la marina turística de Paracas.

This exciting excursion lasts 2 hours, part from the pier, La Marina Turística de Paracas (could be another place, it depends on the travel agency), the departures are only in the morning: the first tour is at 8:00 am. and the second is at 10:00 am.

Prices are regularly between 20 and 30 soles (during holidays such as national holidays, Christmas and New Years, prices are between 30 and 40 soles).

Tours include, life jacket, boarding pass and tour guide; They will not include the tax of the pier that you pay when boarding the boat and it costs 16 soles for adults and 8 soles for children under 16 and over 5 years.

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline. Ballestas Islands.

4.2. Ballestas and Paracas National Reserve.

In Paracas it is cheaper for you to do a tour with an agency that on your own and with the excursion you have a guide and they take you from one place to another; so you save time.

This exciting excursion lasts 6 hours, part from the pier, La Marina Turística de Paracas (could be another place, it depends on the travel agency), the departures at 8:00 am.

They will drive us to the wonderful Ballestas Islands, the most important wild sanctuary of the Peruvian coast to observe sea lions, boobies, pelicans, penguins and other sea birds for two hours and then you will visit the Paracas National Reserve Museum, the red beach, the shore of fossils and you will have lunch in Playa Lagunillas from where you come back to Paracas. (some travel agencies also include one hour of free time to you relax in the beautiful la Mina beach, check very well the deals).

Prices are regularly between 45 and 50 soles (during holidays such as national holidays, Christmas and New Years, prices are between 55 and 60 soles).

Tours include, life jacket, boarding pass and tour guide; They will not include the tax of the pier that you pay when boarding the boat and it costs 16 soles for adults and 8 soles for children under 16 and over 5 years.

Also in playa Lagunillas you have to pay for you lunch, that is usually Ceviche and other kinf of seafood, the dishes are expensive between 55 to 100 soles (you may bring snacks if you prefer).

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline. 
Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve.

4.3. Ballestas Islands and Huacachina Oasis.

This excursion starts at 8:00 am and explores the Ballestas islands for 2 hours, then drives for an hour and 15 minutes to the Ica.

At 13:00 pm the Ica City Tour begins, which lasts two and a half hours and you visit the following places: Plaza de Armas of the city of Ica, where you will appreciate 2 beautiful obelisks which represent 2 great cultures that flourished in the department of Ica, the artisan winery “El Catador” where they will have the explanation of wine and pisco.

Then you have free time for lunch (not included). Then you will visit the Huacachina oasis where you will do the buggy and sandboarding activities and then you will return to Ica.

My recommendation is that you finish the tour with the agency in Huacachina and stay until night so that you can appreciate the beautiful sunset and also the fantastic play of colors when the town lights come on (the taxi charges 20 soles from Huacachina to Ica).

Tours include, life jacket, boarding pass, buggy, sandboarding, tour guide and transport; They will not include the tax of the pier that you pay when boarding the boat and it costs 16 soles for adults and 8 soles for children under 16 and over 5 years.

The excursión start from Paracas and the price for this tour is between 50 to 70 dollars (check the deals with the travel agencies).

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline.
Ballestas Islands and Huacachina Oasis.

4.4. Ballestas Islands- Overflight to Nazca Lines and Huacachina oasis.

This excursion starts at 8:00 am and explores the Ballestas islands for 2 hours, then drives for an hour and 15 minutes to the Ica aerodrome to fly for an hour over the Nazca lines.

Then you have one hour of free time for lunch (not included). Then you will visit the Huacachina oasis where you will do the buggy and sandboarding activities and then you will return to Ica.

My recommendation is that you finish the tour with the agency in Huacachina and stay until night so that you can appreciate the beautiful sunset and also the fantastic play of colors when the town lights come on (the taxi charges 20 soles from Huacachina to Ica).

Tours include, life jacket, boarding pass, Nazca overflight, buggy, sandboarding, tour guide and transport; They will not include the tax of the pier that you pay when boarding the boat and it costs 16 soles for adults and 8 soles for children under 16 and over 5 years.

The excursión start from Paracas and the price for this tour is between 250 to 320 dollars (check the deals with the travel agencies).

Ballestas Islands: Updated guideline. 
Ballestas Islands, Nazca Lines and Huacachina Oasis.

Important Note: There are many attractions that you can combine, check all deals with the travel agencies in Paracas or through the web sites.

5.Important safety tips

It is not difficult to get to Paracas and although the place is safe, it is always good to be careful.

  • Be very careful with the taxi you take in “desvío Paracas” many taxis in Paracas are known to take people to hotels they deal with.
  • Paracas is a small town, however there are BCP, Continental, Cajero Global Net and Paracas Money Exchange ATMs.
  • Bring sunscreen from 50 DEET or more and apply it at least every one hour and half, Ballestas islands is always hot and radiation in Peru is even higher than in Australia.
  • Bring sunglasses, sun hat, a jacket for the wind and chill and camera or phone to take pictures.

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