When traveling to Lima, Peru you must add Paracas and Huacachina to your Peru bucket list . Be ready for a long day of traveling on the road, enjoying a boat tour of Ballestas Islands and sand boarding down the sand dunes of Huacachina.
This full day tour was booked via Peru Hop. Peru Hop is a well known travel company taking many travelers to different cities from the north of Peru all the way to the South. Peru Hop operates on the hop-on-hop-off system where you purchase a single bus ticket and that one ticket takes you to any one of its many stops throughout Peru. This ticket is valid for a year. You can hop on and hop off as many times as you would like and you can stay in each stop for as long as you would like. No need to call a taxi. Peru Hop will literally pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or hostel. This is a great opportunity for solo travelers, backpackers, or for anyone really.
Aside from their option to hop-on-hop-off, they also offer one, two, and three full day trips with the three full day trip including Secret Slave Tunnels, Ballestas Islands, Paracas National Reserve, Pisco Vineyard, and Dune Buggy & Sandboarding. My mom and I booked their one day full day tour including Ballestas Islands (Paracas) and Dune Buggy & Sandboarding (Huacachina) for total of USD $129 per person.
This full day trip includes two destinations with one activity in each location, pick up and drop off from your hotel or hostel, and transportation from Paracas to Huacachina. The only thing not included is food.
Itinerary of the Day
5:30 AM – Hotel pick up and embark on a 4 hour drive to Paracas
10:00 AM – Arrive in Paracas and enjoy a 2 hour boat tour of Ballestas Islands
1:00 PM – Depart Paracas and head to Huacachina
2:30 PM – Arrive in Huacachina. You have about an hour to explore Huacachina
4:00 PM – Dunebuggy and Sandboarding activity lasting about 2 hours
6:15 PM – Grab a quick dinner
7:00 PM – Depart Huacachina and head back to Lima, Peru
1:00 AM – Arrive at Hotel
Paracas – Ballestas Islands
Once you arrive in Paracas you will have some down time before the boat tour to use the bathroom. You will then head to the dock where you will board an approximately 40-person boat. The boat tour lasts about two hours. During this tour you will get to see penguins, sea lions, and more, as well as learn the history of Ballestas Islands. My favorite part of the tour was honestly the sea lions. I am a huge fan of animals and I truly enjoyed watching them in their natural habitat.
After the boat tour we returned to the main land. We were given about an hour to grab lunch. For lunch you have two options: you can either preorder from one specific restaurant through PeruHop before arriving to Paracas or you can select from the many restaurants on the boardwalk where you want to eat. If you go with the first option, the food will be ready for you once you finish the boat tour. If you go with the second option you will have to wait a little bit before getting your food. My mom and I decided to go with the second option.
To be very transparent, I did not get the name of the restaurant we selected because I was having a moment as a result of my pants being soaked from the boat tour. I was extremely uncomfortable. I was able to dry off for the most part before heading back to the bus.
Huacachina – Dunebuggy & Sandboarding
Hands down, this was my favorite part of the full day trip with Peru Hop. Huacachina is the only desert oasis in South America. Remember it is desert so yes, it is hot and sunny. Bring your sunscreen because you will get a tan. You will have about an hour to explore this desert oasis before your two hour dune buggy and sand boarding tour. Walk around, grab something to eat if you like and use the bathroom. There are no bathrooms once you are on the tour.
If you are an adrenaline junkie and you are not afraid of rollercoasters sit in the front of the dune buggy! The buggy takes unexpected turns during the tour so much make sure you safely secured at all times. This was such an amazing experience! I felt like a little kid again, screaming and holding on tightly. After some fun on the buggy we then had the opportunity to sand board down three steep sand dunes. At first, I was hesitant because I was super nervous. However, I am so happy that I took a leap of faith and decided to do it. It is definitely a rush going down the sand dunes.
The very last thing we did, which was a perfect way to end the tour was watch the sunset. It was one of my favorite sunsets I have ever seen. I felt complete serenity and a major sense of gratitude for being able to go on this Peru trip with my mother. After the sunset we were dropped off near the bottom of the desert oasis.
You will have about 45 minutes to grab a quick bite. If you can’t sit and eat, you can definitely order for take-out and eat it on the bus ride back to Lima, Peru.
Ballestas Islands – make sure you to sit as close to the front of the boat as possible. If you sit in the back of the boat (last 3 rows) you will get wet because of the wind and waves. The people sitting in the very last row got soaked. I recommend bringing an extra pair of bottoms just in case you have no choice but to sit in the back of the boat.
Dunebuggy & Sandboarding – while on the dunebuggy have your cellphone or any other valuables secured because the vehicle is extremely unpredictable. Your phone may fall out of your hands. This has happened to many travelers in the past. Also, make sure to bring sunglasses because when you are going up and down the sand dunes the velocity of the buggy will cause sand to get into your eyes.
I loved this tour. The only thing I did not enjoy about this tour with Peru Hop is the time we ended up arriving back to our hotel. We left at 7:00pm from Huacachina. It is a four hour drive to Lima, Peru so technically we should have gotten back around 11pm or 11:30pm the latest depending on traffic. However, Peru Hop offers pick up and drop off to your hotel or hostel to all travelers. Meaning we were literally dropping off travelers in most neighborhoods once we arrived in Lima, which made our drop off time a little after 1:00am. My mom and I were exhausted. Other than that, I 100% recommend Peru Hop for this experience.