« Peru - Nine Days Itinerary

Day 2 – Paracas, Huacachina

There are a lot of ways to go to Cusco from Lima. One the best way, and most travelers do this, is to fly directly. But I decided to have a stop over at Huacachina on the way to Cusco. Peru Hop is the recommended bus service that picks you up from your hotel in Lima and has the following options to go to Cusco, Arequipa or Huacachina:

  • Lima to Cusco – 3 days for $159. This stops at Paracas, Huacachina and Nazca lines, before going to Cusco via Arequipa and Juliaca (Puno).
  • Lima to Huacachina and back – daily. This option takes you to Paracas and Huacachina, returning back to Lima the same day.

I chose the first option. We started at 6:00am from Lima, reaching Paracas at about 11am. You can book your boat trip to Ballestas Island on the bus itself with Peru Hop. It costs PEN 50 for a 1.5 hour round-trip.

[Peru Hop bus]

Paracas and Ballestas Islands (Islas Ballestas)

Upon arrival to Paracas, you will be given 10 minutes for a restroom break, and then hopped on to a boat that will navigate around the Ballestas Islands.

Grandiosely nicknamed the ‘poor man’s Galapagos,’ the Islas Ballestas are located about 30 minute boat ride from the mainland. The boats are open, fast and do not have any cabins, so dress to protect against the wind, spray and sun. The sea can get rough, so sufferers of motion sickness should take medication before boarding.

[The Paracas beach fro where the boat rides begin]

[Typical tourist boats to Ballestas Islands]

On the outward boat journey, which takes about 1.5 hours, you can’t miss the famous three-pronged Candelabra geoglyph, a giant figure etched into the sandy hills, which is over 150m high and 50m wide. No one knows exactly who made the geoglyph, or when, or what it signifies, but theories abound. Some connect it to the Nazca Lines, while others propound that it served as a navigational guide for ancient sailors and was based on the constellation of the Southern Cross. Some even believe it to have been inspired by a local cactus species with hallucinogenic properties.

[The colorful mountains surrounding the peninsula of Paracas]

[Candelabra geoglyph, a giant figure etched into the sandy hills, which is over 150m high and 50m wide]

An hour is spent cruising around the islands’ arches and caves, watching large herds of noisy sea lions sprawl on the rocks. The most common guano -producing birds in this area are the guanay cormorant, the Peruvian booby and the Peruvian pelican, seen in colonies of several thousand strong. You’ll also see pelicans, cormorants, and Humboldt penguins.

[Abandoned boats are a haven for pelicans and sea-gulls]

Although you can get close enough to the wildlife for a good look, some species, especially the penguins, are more visible with binoculars. On your return trip, ask to see the Chilean flamingos, which are usually found in the southern part of the bay and not on the direct boat route. The flamingos aren’t always there, however – the best time is June to August.

[Approaching Ballestas Islands]

[One of the many natural arches of Ballestas Islands]

[One of the many natural arches of Ballestas Islands]

[Penguins reside along side with Pelicans & Sea-gulls]

[Sea Lions sunbathing on the rocks]

[Sea Lions sunbathing on the beach]

Back on shore, we had time to grab a bite and coffee, before the Peru Hop bus starts its way to Huacachina, taking about 1.5 hours.


Having planned the Peru Hop trip earlier, I had the option to stay a night in Huacachina, whereas a lot of travelers can take the evening 7:30pm bus back to Lima. The main reason for the bus to stop at Huacachina is the Dune buggy and Sand-boarding tours offered by almost every single tour company in Huacachina.

Huacachina is a tiny oasis town in the middle of the desert and walkable everywhere. I checked in to El Huacachinero hotel and had enough time to grab some lunch before joining the group tour of Dune Buggy & Sandboarding.


Hotel El Huacachinero


Breakfast included: Yes
Wifi: Free, included in price.
Wifi Coverage: Not good network across the hotel.
Airport Pickup: N/A
Towels provided: Yes
Toiletries provided: Yes

Address: Av. Perotti S/N, Balneario de Huacachina, Peru
Website: www.elhuacachinero.com

Located in the side street of Huacachina, this is a very good place to stay for the value in terms of money and location. The rooms are clean, beds are comfortable and clean. The staff is amazing and facilities are great.

Rooms & Bathrooms
I had booked a double bed room with private bathroom for one night. The room was stuffy and hot with a table-fan that barely gave any air. The windows provided some relief from the hot temperatures though! The room also had a TV and closet space for bags. Bathroom was clean and had towels and napkins provided.

The reception staff was very friendly and helpful. The hostel also has its own cafeteria that serves food and coffee for a price. Breakfast is included in the price of the room. A great swimming pool is good to have for the hot weather!

Literally every single place is a hotel in Huacachina and this was quite okay for the value for money.


It was past 3pm and feeling hungry, I walked to the center of the town, right next to the oasis to grab some quick lunch at Desert Nights restaurant, before heading back to the meeting point from where the Dune Buggy tour would start. Most companies offer the exact same tour and prices can get competitive. After reading reviews online, I had booked the 2-hour Dune Buggy & Sandboarding tour with Huacachina.com, costing $18 per person. All evening tours begin at 4pm and lasts 2 hours. A sand-dune entrance fee of PEN 3.60 is not included in the tour and must be paid by you.

After a bumpy and fun ride to the sand dunes, we reached the first “small” dune for some sand boarding, and then to a “big” dune for the same.

[Hotel El Huacachinero]

[Our Dune Buggy]

[Driving the dune buggy on the sand dunes of Huacachina]

[Driving the dune buggy on the sand dunes of Huacachina]

[Just some fun!]

[Sand dunes of Huacachina]

[Sand dunes of Huacachina with the oasis town behind]


We were dropped back to the hotel around 6:30pm and having booked a BBQ dinner + dance night at Casa de Arena, I had a shower and headed to the hotel from where we were taken to another hotel for some unlimited food, drinks and dancing until late hours.

You can book BBQ at Casa de Arena hotel before 7:30pm and costs PEN 40, but if you take the Peru Hop bus then you can book with your guide and get a PEN 5 discount. This includes unlimited food, unlimited drinks for one hour and after-meal partying and shots.


Partner Offers


Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = PEN 3.30 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.

What Cost Notes
Peru Hop bus $159 “Get to Cusco Quick” for a 3-day trip from Lima to Cusco
Ballestas Island Tour $15.15 PEN 50. One person.
Coffee at Paracas $3.03 PEN 10.
Lunch at Desert Nights restaurant $9.09 PEN 30. Including food and water.
Desert ticket $1.09 PEN 3.60 per person.
Dune Buggy tour $18 Per person, payable in advance.
Snacks & water $5.45 PEN 18.
Dinner BBQ at Casa de Arena $10.60 PEN 35. One person, includes meal, unlimited drinks.
Total Costs $221.41 Per person
Overall Costs $812.73 Per person


« PREVIOUS – Day 1


Arriving in Peru and sights of Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2

Paracas, Huacachina

Sights of Ballestas Island & Thrills in Huacachina.

« Nine days in Peru

Day 3 – NEXT »

Huacachina to Arequipa, via Nazca Lines

Bus from Huacachina to Arequipa stopping at Nazca Lines.


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