Paracas Travel Blog

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Paracas is a small town on the coast of Peru that is a tourist stop mainly for the close access to the Ballestas Islands. We arrived late in the afternoon and got rooms at one of the small selection of hostels, along with buying tickets for the islands and the national reserve the next day. With not much to do we headed to the main strip along the beach and found a restaurant to drink lots of beers, try out the local seafood and watch the sun go down.

Early the next day we headed out to the Ballestas Islands. The boat took about half an hour to get out to the islands, and along the way we saw a huge drawing in a mountain side similar in concept to the Nazca lines that are apparantly 900 years old.

The Ballestas Islands are famous for the sheer quantity of wildlife that manages to fit on them. They are nearly completely covered with birds and penguins, with plenty of sea lions down on the rocks below. This level of abundance is very rare because such overpopulation is usually a free gift to any predator that wants to take advantage of the situation. For whatever reason there are no significant predators on the islands or in the skies above so they are free to breed as they please and feed from the sea. Another famous feature of the islands was that over a very long period of time the birds did their droppings - called guano - on the islands and it kept piling up to the point that when humans recently decided that they could use it for own purposes it had grown up to 30 metres high. Now the 30 metres of bird business is gone but there is still plenty of it around from recent activity to visibly coat the ground and leave a strong smell.

Our boat toured around the islands from the sea because people are not allowed to go on the islands so as to protect the unique ecosystem. It didn't detract from it because you could still see almost everything, and it was really amazing. There was such a huge quantity of birds that if you weren't close it almost looked like a blur. The sea lions lying on the rocks right near the boat passing by was very impressive. It would be interesting to know just how many birds there were in such a small area - probably hundreds of thousands to millions. On the boat ride back there were dolphins bobbing out of the water right near us just to top it all off.

In the afternoon we did a tour of the Paracas National Reserve. The reserve is mostly limited from human entry but the north end near Paracas town gave us a good view of what it is like. The area is mostly desert but the coast line along it is simply stunning. There are enormous cliff faces almost as far as the eye can see, with great viewing platforms to gasp at it all. We first went to a spot where you can watch flamingos, but we were so far away that it was barely a glimpse in the distance so really there wasn't any point. After that was the best part as we went to the coast line points and took lots of great photos. We then had lunch at a restaurant in the reserve and headed back.

With not much left to do in the Paracas area we took the Cruz Del Sur bus to Ica in the evening, which was about two hours away.
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photo by: Sylvie1