Usually when I travel I opt for the more modest local establishments and try to avoid pricey chain hotels. I have found some real gems this way and I get to meet some interesting people along the way. Since I was travelling with some companions this time I decided to book the five star Hilton Paracas for one night of luxury. The room and dinner probably cost nearly as much as all of our other accommodations combined! The four of us shared a ground floor two room suite with a walkout to a stunning pool. We had an amazing lunch of seafood at the pool bar and later enjoyed a meal in the hotel restaurant. We did spend a very nice afternoon lounging by the pool imbibing in various tropical drinks.
We booked a tour of the Ballesta Islands, a marine reserve full of birds, sea lions and apparently even penguins but only one little penguin was at home when we visited as his pals had all abandoned him for warmer climates. We took the tour with the hotel's private boat but there are plenty of tours to be had in Paracas and the cost is very reasonable at about $15 per person.
The boat we were on was full of Spanish speaking persons (we were in Peru after all) so most of the guided explanation was in Spanish. As luck would have it, the woman sitting next to us was from our little neck of the woods in Southern Ontario
and she had married a Peruvian gentleman who had worked around the world and they and their children were now spending a final year in Lima before returning to Canada. Her husband very kindly acted as an interpreter for the entire tour!
The Ballesta Islands are advertised as the poor man's Galapagos so if you want a taste of a natural ecological reserve be sure to put this on your list. If you have a fondness for very large, very loud sea lions this is the place to go!