Relax on the coast in Peru

Peru is one of the most interesting and wonderful countries anywhere. You can see incredible Inca ruins, the Amazon rainforest, amazing mountains and canyons and beautiful colonial cities all on one holiday. However, with so many things to see and do, a holiday there is not always the most relaxing and can involve lots of early mornings. Early mornings in Paracas are definitely optional, and spending a couple of days lazing around the pool is a great way to end a tour of Peru.

The fishing village of Paracas, less than 4 hours by road from Lima, is in a beautiful bay. As Paracas is in the desert it receives very little rain. There is sunshine most days of the year, although mornings can be overcast, especially between May and September. The weather is hottest from December to April, but even in the coolest months of July and August, daytime highs in the low 20s are usual, although nights can be cool.

The area now has some of the best hotels in Peru, so is perfect for unwinding. I was lucky to stay in the wonderful Hotel Paracas Luxury Collection earlier this year. There are large, well-kept gardens and two open air pools: a large family pool and a heated pool for adults. There is an excellent spa and massage rooms and the bar serves fantastic pisco sours. The rooms are great – large, comfortable, great bathrooms and terraces (ground floor rooms) or balconies (first floor rooms).

There are also plenty of interesting things to do if you fancy something more active. The hotel has its own jetty for the amazing boat rides to the Ballestas Islands. A speedboat takes you to this small group of islands teeming with wildlife. Pelicans, tendrils, blue-footed boobies and Humbolt penguins nest on the islands and sea lions play around the boat. Whales and dolphins are sometimes present, although not usually seen.

Another fantastic attraction near Paracas is the Nazca Lines. These 2000-year old etchings in the face of the desert have attracted all sorts of wild speculation about their origins, including Erich von Daniken’s alien landing strips. You can visit the viewing tower, from which you get a view of some of the lines, and judge for yourself. You can also fly over the Nazca Lines, although Llama Travel is currently not offering these flights due to safety concerns raised by a number of incidents in recent years on different airlines operating these flights.

My favourite archaeological attraction in the area is the Ica Regional Museum, where there is a fantastic collection of deformed trophy skulls, mummies and incredible textiles from the Nazca and Paracas cultures.

Machu Picchu will always take pride of place as the main attraction in Peru, but I cannot think of a better place than Paracas to end your tour of the country.

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