Penguins, flamingos and boobies!!

Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
Trip End Aug 29, 2010

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, July 23, 2010

From Lima we took the bus to Pisco, a beach town recently leveled by a earthquake and tsunami in 2007 (conveniently not mentioned in the guide book). Pisco was nearest town to our destination, Paracas.  Paracas is a southern coastal desert town that lies at the base of a giganic peninsula and is the entry to Paracas National Reserve, a giganic nature preserve.

The following day we took a bus to Paracas and boarded the 8am Penguino I speedboat to Islas Ballestas. The guidebook calls these islands the Galapagos of Peru.

Halfway to the islands we passed El Candelabro, a mysterious geoglyph in the hillside of the peninsula that can be seen from 12 miles out to sea.  It has been dated back to 2000b.c. and while there are numerous theories describing its existence, its creators reamain unknown and whether it´s meant to depict a cactus or candelstick is yet to be determined.

After another 30 minutes we arrived at the Islas Ballestas. The islands are covered in birds of all sorts and sizes. Primarily one notes the Peruvian Booby, sadly absent of the blue feet. But, as one looks closer there are little groups of waddling penguins and sun-bathing sealions! The islands are resticted from humans (with a few expections), so we remained in the boat admiring the birds and beasts.

If you imagine these islands covered completely with various birds you are probably not picturing the depth of bird shit encrusting every inch of rock.  This is the guano, remember Ace Ventura? Guano is the bird (and other sealife) droppings that is high in N and P making it a highly sought after fertilizer. Every 7 years the guano from the islands is scraped off and collected to be shipped worldwide. So, the exception to the ´no people rule´ is the year-round security guard that protects the islands from illegal guano collectors.

The penguins were awesome but there was more to be seen back on the peninsula. We boated back to Paracas and walked along the beach passing fancy vacation houses (of Peruvian officials we were later told) and enormous resorts to the entrance of the National Reserve. From here we continued walking to the area described as being frequented by flamingos. Indeed in the distance we saw the pink birds standing tall in the coastal waters. We were unable to get too close to them because of the swamp separating us, but they were fantastic even from a distance.

Back at the reserve entrance Evan chatted with the rangers who hooked us up with a taxi driver (who looked exactly like shaggy latin Dustin Hoffman as seen in the movie Meet the Fockers) to explore the rest of the enormous peninsula. Latin Hoffman took us across the reserve, a complete desert, again void of any sort of life, to a glorious cliff on the farside of the peninsula. Assuming the position as guide, Hoffman kept us from getting to close to the edge of the gnarly cliffs and found us a unique place to see more penguins. We then went to a nearby fishing village, where we had a wonderful lunch of freshly caught rock fish from the adjacent cove, amazing fish. -R

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sarah on

Evan, I'm pleased to see that you're highlighting scatalogical data in every blog post. Does this make you want a poop-factory pet when you return? A rabbit? or a huge dog? Maybe you' could start a career as a zoo keeper instead of an engineer?
Keep yer boots clean....

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