Desert on the Pacific becomes Peru’s latest tourist attraction
The Peruvian peninsula of Paracas, whose 335,000 hectares (827 acres) of tropical desert stretch into the Pacific Ocean to form one of the richest, rarest ecosystems in the world, has just recently become one of Peru’s key projects for attracting sustainable tourism.
Located some 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Lima, the Paracas National Reserve is one of Peru’s Protected Natural Areas, with some of the world’s most luxuriant wetlands, and where sea and desert create a unique landscape with a biodiversity that embraces 1,543 species of fauna, from mammals and birds to fish and reptiles.
Thanks to these attractions, the Peruvian government estimates the peninsula will be visited by 414,386 tourists in 2017, and so has prepared a new “North Circuit” with an investment of 18 million soles (some $5.5 million) in infrastructure and a wide-ranging choice of tourist services.
“The investment is aimed to help visitors enjoy the natural riches of the reserve, such as the impressive views and undersea diversity,” Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros said during the presentation of the project.
Paracas National Reserve’s excellent state of conservation has been rewarded by a growing number of visitors, which in 2016 topped all previous years when it went from 223,132 in 2015 to 327,952 last year to become the country’s second most important protected area.
The North Circuit of Paracas has some 15 kilometers of road with 12 stops where tourists can enjoy the views of enormous dunes and the cold Pacific waters, as well as adventurous sports like hang gliding and snorkeling.
Beaches along the Bay of Paracas are characterized by seas of deep blue or bright turquoise, depending on the plankton in the area, and at Playa Roja by the sands tinted red by igneous rock.
Among the facilities provided are new control posts, hygienic services, lookouts and places to relax and enjoy the sun, sea and sand at beaches like Yumaque, Playa Roja, Raspon, La Mina and La Plaza.