Bellow is our extensive 2019 guide on the Paracas National Reserve, one of the biggest protected desert reserves in South America, spanning over 200,000 hectares of desert and ocean.
Consisting of the Paracas Peninsula, the Paracas National Reserve is made up of coastal areas and tropical desert. Home to 74 species of plants that grown in this arid area, the reserve is also a sanctuary for 2016 species of birds, 193 species of fish, 16 types of mammals and 10 species of reptiles. Covering 3350 square kilometres, the protected natural marine area is made up of 65% sea and 35% land and islands. It is considered as one of the richest and most uncommon ecosystems in the world, but in all honesty the attraction is not only the wildlife, but the beauty of the ocean and desert landscapes.
The reserve was established in 1975, making it the oldest marine reserve in Peru. In addition to the biological areas, the reserve also protects prehistoric sites of the Paracas culture and other ancient civilizations. Near the entrance of the reserve is the Centro de interpretación de la Reserva Nacionnal de Paracas and the Museo de Sitio Julio C. Tello named agter the archeologist who made major discoveries about the ancient Paracas culture, like the elegant pieces buried with the mummified remains of the Paracas elite.
Playa Roja is located between Playa Lagunillas and Punta Santa Maria. The uncommon colour of the reddish shore, although unusual along the Peruvian Coast, makes it one of the most beautiful beaches in the Paracas National Reserve. The red colour of the sand is caused by the nearby massif of Punta Santa Maria, formed by a sort of igneous rock known as pink granodiorite, which contains solidified magma inside. When breaking against the cliffs of Punta Santa Maria, the waves carry fragments of the reddish rocks that then settle on the shore. This then creates a beautiful contrast with the yellow and other colours found on the cliffs.
The protection and conservation of the ecosystems is not the only thing that makes the reserve unique as it also serves as protection to the cultural and historical patrimony left by the pre-Inca Paracas culture centuries ago.
Average monthly temperatures ranges between 15.5°C (60°F) - 22°C(72°F). There is no rainy season. The Park can be visited throughout the year.