Paracas National Reserve (Reserve Nacional de Paracas)

Paracas National Reservation


Location: 150 mi (240 km) South of Lima  Map

Open: 7am- 6pm daily

Area: 3350 km²

Museo de Sitio Julio C. Tello

Bahia de Paracas

Open: 9am- 5pm Tue- Sun


Description of Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve is located 150 mi (240 km) South of Lima in Peru. Paracas National Reserve covers an area of 3350 km² including Paracas Peninsula and seashore along the Pacific Ocean. It was established on September 25 in 1975 to preserve a portion of the sea and desert along with various species of wildlife that lives here. Ecosystem of the marine life is fed by the Peruvian or Humboldt Current and it is considered as one of the most productive area on the Earth allowing many large birds and mammals to inhabit in the area. Paracas National Reserve lies along migration routes of wide variety species of birds.


Paracas Candelabra

Paracas National Reserve in addition to its natural biodiversity is also famous for the ancient art work that was created by the native tribes on a massive scale. Most of these shapes are best visible from sky or from the sea. One of the most famous remains of human presence here is a paracas Candelabra that is located on the North- West side of Paracas Bay. It is also known as Paracas Trident or Tres Cruces.  It is 120 meters high and made of cream- colored rock on a sand background. The Candelabra was created on a site of quick winds that removed any excess sand that might hide the shape on a side of a mountain.


It is located in one of the most deserted spots on the Peruvian coast, in the department of Ica, and covers an area of ​​335,000 hectares —some 200,000 in the Pacific Ocean—. The Paracas Peninsula is located in an exceptionally rich maritime zone, whose upwellings of extremely cold waters produce a great abundance of plankton that nourishes fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

Part of the surface of the reserve, specifically 217,594 hectares, is made up of aquatic environments (for many people it is the richest sea on the planet).

Due to its importance as a resting and feeding place for migratory species, in 1991 it was elevated to the category of regional reserve of the Hemispheric Network for shorebirds (currently a Wetlands for the Americas program).

Likewise, in April 1992 it was recognized as one of the special sites for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention), especially as a habitat for aquatic species such as sea lions, Humboldt penguins ( that are in danger of extinction), guano birds such as the booby, the guanay, the pelican and other important species.

The climate is typical of the formation of the subtropical desert, that is, there is approximately a difference of 6 to 8 °C in the average temperature of the hottest month and the coldest. In February and August, respectively, it is 22 °C and 15.5 °C, with the annual average being 18.7 °C. Precipitation is very poor, the total annual average being 1.83 mm, relative humidity is around 82%, with 83% in winter.

The prevailing winds are south and southwest, reaching an average speed of 14.9 km/h; however, they can reach up to 32 km/h, being the strongest on the coast, known by the name of Paracas.

With a mild climate and an annual average of 22 degrees centigrade and almost constant sun, with low humidity, the stay is pleasant.

The sea is favored by the microcurrents of water, a fact that attracts a large number of fish, other species in the area and fish farmers. In general, the Paracas outcrop is one of the 9 most important in the world. These updrafts bring nutrients from the seabed, fertilizing the surface waters. This leads to an overproduction of phytoplankton, which biologists know as high primary productivity.

The reserve
The reserve has great opportunities on the coast for the conservation and quiet reproduction of numerous species of resident and migratory birds.

Among the most common are pelicans, the gray gull (Larus modestus), tendril (Larosterna inca), skimmer (Rynchops nigra), arctic plover (Pluvialis squatarola), chuita (Phalacrocorax gaimardi), guanay (Leucocarbo bougainvillii), the condor, the Humboldt penguin (in danger of extinction) and the parihuanas or flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis), among other species.

The fish found in this maritime area are: sole (Etropus extenes), toyo blanco (Mustelus whitneyi), bonito (Sarda chilensis), tramboyo, skate, cheetah, sardine, anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) Pollock fiatola, grouper, corvina, lorna and many other species.

The mammals in this reserve are mainly represented by the fur seals or chusco (Otaria byronia), the fur seal or fur seal (Arctocephalus australis), the dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the sea cat (Lontra felina), this one, in danger of extinction.

The reserve is also inhabited by leatherback and green turtles, reptiles such as lizards (Microlophus spp.) and geckos (Phyllodactylus spp.), octopuses, squid (Loligo gahi), clams and crustaceans such as carter (Ocypode gaudichaudii), purple crab ( Platyxantus orbigny), the muimuy (Emerita analoga), among others.

The vegetation of the Paracas National Reserve is found in the highest areas (between 400 and 600 meters above sea level) such as Sangayán Island, Morro Quemado and Cerro Lechuza. These types of plant formations include orchids, cacti and tillandsias, small date palm forests (datilus) and strangely a chañar forest (Geoffroea decorticans) that serve as a refuge and habitat for species of invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals. This vegetation depends mainly on the humidity generated by the mists, which determines its seasonality and distribution.

In the brackish depressions of the Pisco and Paracas area there are pastures, totora and scrub, many of which are characteristic of wetlands, which are quite diminished by the excessive extraction of water for the large number of new hotels and transitory population. who comes to this tourist place.


The diverse habitats of the Paracas reserve make it an ideal place for resting and feeding of migratory shore birds as well as mammals and reptiles. Among the threatened bird species that are protected in the reserve are in the rest, feeding and reproduction area of ​​resident and migratory birds, species such as the flamingo, the golden plover, the solitary sandpiper, among others, can be observed. Among the terrestrial mammals, the Andean and coastal foxes stand out, and among the marine mammals, the otter, the fur seal and the chusco wolf stand out, as well as species of migratory and resident cetaceans such as the humpback whale, the dusky dolphin or sea pig, the tonino or spiny porpoise, the bottlenose dolphin or bufeo, among others.

The Paracas National Reserve is also an important stopover on the migratory route of four species of sea turtles, the leatherback turtle, the hawksbill turtle, the green turtle and the parrot-billed turtle which, due to their meat and shell, are hunted and predated by man and is on the verge of extinction.

As well as marine mammals, these turtles are legally protected species and their extraction, processing and commercialization is prohibited through Law No. 26585.

The Humboldt penguin and the Peruvian potoyunco, which are in danger of extinction. Other species in a vulnerable situation are the peregrine falcon, the chuita and five species of guano birds such as the guanay, the pelican, the Peruvian booby, the blue-footed booby and the masked booby.

Recreational activities
Beach tourism, adventure activities, nature sports, archaeological museum, interpretation center, observation of cliffs and coastal marine life are the main recreational activities.

The Cathedral of Paracas
The Cathedral was an imposing rock formation caused by the erosion of the sea and the wind over the centuries. Its concave shape was reminiscent of the domes of cathedrals, and inside it lived some sea cats or chingungos, as well as sea birds.

The Cathedral was one of the most photographed and diffused natural images of Peru. Its structure collapsed during the violent earthquake of magnitude 7.9 Mw on August 15, 2007 that had its epicenter in the sea, west of the city of Pisco.2 The remains of this formation are found between the Yumaque and Supay beaches.