Peru: The Islas Ballestas
Althought nickednamed the “poor man’s Galapagos,” the Islas Ballestas does make for a memorable excursion. I am sold on the trip the second that I learned this is home to hundreds of Humboldt penguins. I was so excited to see the cute wild penguins in their natural habitat that I didn’t mind the early morning bus ride (3 am) from Lima at all.
Our boat tour was booked in advanced by our travel agency Inka Crossland Travel. If you are backpacking, there are many local travel companies at Paracas that offer boat tours to take tourists out to the sea to see the fascinating wildlife. The speedboats does not have any cover and it can get wet and chilly. Life jackets are offered on the boats. Our guide pulled us aside and told us: the best seats for viewing is in the middle left hand side, as you are less likely to get splashed wet and because of the route that they take, all the wildlife and rocky formations will be on your left side.
The shops at the harbor sells sunglasses and a lot of hats. We thought they were just for sun protection. Turns out, the hat has another practical yet important purpose and that is to protect your head from receiving a direct hit of bird poops. It really is quite a sight when there are gazillion sea birds flying overhead.
It is said that it never rains in this region, and we did notice that many buildings do not have full roof coverage. Due to the uncharacteristic lack of rainfall and the unique variety of birds nesting there, these islands used to be covered by mountains of bird excrement in the early 19th century. That was before the government exhausted the accumulation of droppings during the Guano Era.
The famous three-pronged Candelabra geoglyph, a giant figure etched into the sandy hills. Is it connected to the Nazca Lines? Or a navigational guide for ancient sailors? Or simply an artist’s free expression? Nobody knows…
We got really close to the sprawling sea lions to have a good look at these noisy magnificent creatures.
The tour is about 1.5 hours. By the time we return back to shore, the sun is out. Waterfront shacks and restaurants are all open.
– Where we stay at: Posada del Emancipador
– Where we eat at: Misk’i Pizzeria
– Where else we visited in Ica region: Nazca line, Huacachina Oasis
– Weather: Because of the desert climate, the weather varies greatly from morning to afternoon. We were there in early July; it was chilly in the morning, especially if you are taking an early boat tour. In the afternoon, really hot and you really need to protect your skin against the strong sun light.
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