14:43 | Paracas (Ica region), Jan. 2.
Just a few hours south of Lima, the Paracas
beach area welcomed about 60,000 visitors —mostly from the Peruvian capital city— on New Year's Eve.
According to Paracas' Tourism and Foreign Trade Chamber (Capatur) Chairman Eduardo Jauregui, the beach area grossed around US$5 million in revenues from accommodation, transport, food, island and beach tours, as well as New Year's Eve celebrations at the city's principal hotels.
"For example, a five-star hotel offered a US$300 New Year's Eve party, which attracted some 500 people. Another renowned hotel offered US$2,000 tour packages, and the demand was high in both cases," he stated.
Jauregui believes these figures should encourage the improvement of some services in Paracas and the increase of lanes at the toll plaza ahead of the National Reserve.
"There was a large number of vehicles on the road leading to the reserve, thus causing chaos among visitors. Therefore, we propose to have three lanes at the entrance to the place. One for private vehicles, another for tourist or passenger buses, and the third one for heavy traffic," he stated.
Both bathers and holidaymakers filled La Mina, Raspon, Yumaque, Roja, and Lagunillas beaches to ring in the New Year.
For his part, the head of Paracas National Reserve Gonzalo Quiroz affirmed this site attracted 13,000 visitors compared to 8,500 a year earlier.
Paracas Natural Reserve
Paracas Natural Reserve, located in Pisco province (Ica region), is one of the most popular destinations among Lima residents, and there are good reasons for that.
The place features beautiful landscapes, as well as a wide range of plant and animal species that reflect Peru's rich coastal-marine ecosystem.
The Reserve extends over an area of 335,000 ha and was established as a natural protected area on September 25, 1975.
Its value lies in protecting the great nation's biodiversity —necessary to maintain various biological cycles that guarantee the preservation of species— and in generating economic benefits for thousands of inhabitants.
The site occupies a privileged zone on the Peruvian coast and provides opportunities for nature tourism, as it houses a significant biological diversity, mainly in coastal and marine environments.
Likewise, Paracas is home to about 216 species of birds, 36 of mammals, 10 of reptiles, 168 of fish, and a number of invertebrates that are an essential part of the food chain in the area.
In addition to unique birds like the Humboldt penguin and the Andean condor —that occasionally descends to the coast in search of rich pickings— visitors can watch large populations of sea wolves and otters.
Other fascinating specimens seen in the surroundings include the humpback whale, the common bottlenose dolphin, and the dusky dolphin.
The vegetation is scarce, but a few coastal hills can be seen at the highest elevations, providing habitat for reptiles, insects, birds, and some mammals.