Saturday, 12 October 2013

Paracas, the poor mans Galapagos.

We arrived into Paracas at sunset after a 5-hour bus journey from Lima. The journey itself was quite remarkable, passing through some amazing scenery; at parts the desert was right up to the sea, and also passing through a desert town called Chincha Alta which reminded us of something out of Mad Max!
After arriving at Paracas we disembarked the bus and walked the 600m down the street from the Cruz del Sur depot to the hostel, Paracas Backpackers House. Paracas is very small, it all leads off the one main street, there are loads of very cheap restaurants crammed together to the left of the beach, and to the right there are about 8 more posh restaurants and bars which front the town pier, following the other side by many hand made souvenir stalls.
We ate some dinner at one of the cheaper places, called 'El Angel' (had to be done!) which was ok, we fed a stray cat and booked our boat tour out to the islands for the morning. The old bloke who owns and runs the hostel is quite a character. When we booked the hostel he sent us an email with the picture of the hostel and told us not to speak to anyone at the bus station and ONLY walk into the hostel which was the same as the picture that he sent us - it turns out that after the success of this hostel, several other hostels in town have people that will meet the bus and tell you that it has closed or that it is dirty, or try to take you to another hostel. When we got there he gave us a 20 minute 'brief' of the town, where things were, what we could do, and told us he could organise tours for us but that we should go and compare the prices and decide for ourselves (he was very insistent of this, he would not just let us book with him). 
Making fertiliser
The hostel doesn't do breakfast (not many hostels here in Peru do) so we grabbed some bananas and headed to the pier and caught our boat out to the islands. It takes about 30 minutes to get out to the Islas Ballestas on the speed boats, it's colder than you think it will be and it rained a little on the way out. On the way to the islands the boat takes you to see the 3 pronged Candelabro which is a massive white carving in the hillside which no one knows why it was done, nor who made it. One idea is that it was maybe a sign for sailors of the day to know when they were home.
The islands themselves are home to thousands of birds including humboldt penguins and boobies (which there are thousands!) - we never saw the Chilean Flamingos or dolphins. There were also many noisy sea lions, cormorants and pelicans.

Sea Lions

The island is farmed every 7 years for its guano (bird shit) which is sold as fertiliser, apparently the best in the world and Australia is a buyer.
As we had a bus to Nazca in the afternoon we were unable to do much else, so we had a long lunch and sat by the beach for a couple of hours before walking back to to the bus station.
The photos aren't the best as the day was overcast and the sea was quite rocky and the camera had trouble focussing. 

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