Inspired Family Journey: Off to Ica

Inspired Family Journey: Off to Ica

Michelle Gaudet

Continue the inspired adventure of the Gaudet family as they leave the City of Kings and make their way down to the salty shores and sandy dunes of Ica.

(Photo: Michelle Gaudet)
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After 2 years of planning, my family had taken our first leap into travel and worldschooling by spending almost a month exploring the expansive city of Lima. It was time for us to move forward south to our next stop, Paracas on the Pacific Ocean shores of the Pisco region. My husband and I had been told by our hostel mates that the area was home to amazing ocean wildlife. We were excited to visit the area, and we soon found out that we would not be disappointed in our search for local wildlife.

We took a 4-hour bus trip south from a bus terminal in busy downtown Lima to the little outdoor wood and straw bus platform in Paracas. With our backpacks strapped to our backs, we made the short walk into town and found our way to the Backpackers Hostel we had booked back when we were in Lima. Over the next couple days, we explored the boardwalk and beaches. Many restaurants and shops filled the small streets as the busy town was a destination for travelers of all kind. We booked a boat tour to the Islas Ballestas and a mini bus tour of the Paracas National Reserve through our Hostel

(Photo: Michelle Gaudet)

We woke up at 6 am the next morning to take our boat tour of the Islas Ballestas. Many other tourists did the same thing that morning. As we walked with our local guide to our boat we met up with dozens of other tourists following their guides to the speed boat they would be touring the area on. As our boat was slowly pulling out of the harbor we were greeted by 3 dolphins that circled and played beside our speed boat. My kids had never seen dolphins anywhere other than on TV, so it was a real special moment for them to be so close to one in real life.

As our boat sped out of the harbor and towards the open ocean, we had the chance to see El Candelabro (the Candelabra), a mysterious 500 ft. geoglyph dug into a sandy hillside facing the ocean. It didn’t take us very long to reach the islands where we would find ourselves awestruck by the natural beauty. We were surrounded by sea lions, Peruvian blue footed boobies, Humboldt penguins, and thousands upon thousands of birds from varying species flying over us on the rocky cliffs above.

The next day our mini bus tour took us into the Paracas National Reserve. The bus took us through the reserve to a museum on the Paracas people and then to 4 different beaches with a stop in a regional fishing port where we had lunch. Our last stop was Playa Roja, (Red Beach) and as you could expect the beach sand was a beautiful red color, unlike any beach I had seen before. After a week in this beautiful oceanside town, we boarded the bus in the little wood and straw terminal to our next stop, the desert city of Ica.

(Photo: Michelle Gaudet)

Our bus drove through the dusty and barren desert for an hour and a half until we reached our next stop Ica. I had booked a stay in a home with a local family through Airbnb and our host graciously picked us up from the downtown terminal and brought us to his beautiful Spanish style home with stone floors and tile roof. The house had a large courtyard with a swimming pool shadowed by a 10 story sand dune just outside its walls. Our lovely hosts cooked us amazing meals and always had pitchers of homemade chicha for us to drink.

While staying in Ica, we spent an afternoon in the desert oasis of Huacachina; a resort town featuring a natural lagoon surrounded by giant sand dunes of the Atacama Desert. The highlight of our time in Huacachina was the late afternoon dune buggy ride and sand boarding in the desert. My entire family had an amazing time sliding on our bellies down 100-foot sand dunes on this once in a lifetime experience. Tip: Make sure to ask for the fast dune buggies if you want to experience a roller coaster through the desert.

Once again it was time for us to travel on to our next destination in Peru. We said goodbye to our gracious Airbnb hosts and headed back to the bus terminal. Next stop on our adventure, Arequipa, El Ciudad Blanca (The White City) named after the volcanic stone used to construct the city building gathered from the 3 large volcanos that surround it. Up into the Andes Mountains, we go.

Stay tuned for the next edition (June 6)!

Michelle Gaudet is a Canadian writer, artist, and photographer. Last year Michelle and her family took their first family travel adventure backpacking southern Peru for 3 months. She currently lives in Canada while traveling and worldschooling with her family as much as possible. Michelle is the Director of Digital and Social Media for Spiritual Niagara and is building a new career in travel focusing on family adventures and group retreats. You can find her family’s adventures on Instagram at

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