The Poor Man's Galapagos

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Peruvians are apparently notorious for trying to scam you, especially when it comes to telling you the price for a tour.
I hadn't yet experienced this but thanks to a man in Nasca, I understand now.

Nasca, a small town near the southern coast of Peru, lies in the fringes of the Atacama Desert.
The only reason this place gets any tourism is because of the Nasca Lines. Created by indigenous groups some 1500 years ago, these geoglyphs are so massive they are best viewed from above in a plane.
Because it has become such a popular thing to do there are about eight different companies that will take you up in a six-seater plane for 30 minutes to see the hummingbird, monkey, llama, spider, lizard, etc carved into the earth.

My plan was to arrive early in the morning in Nasca from Cusco then take the flight and leave for Pisco/Paracas that afternoon.
I really only managed to achieve the coming and going.

As is expected in touristy places, two steps away from the bus I was asked whether I needed a flight over the Lines.
I learned my lesson in Brazil to never buy anything from someone who greets you at the bus terminal but it was 6 am and I had just gotten off a 14 hour bus.
But when the guy asked for 350 soles (about $135) I just glared at him.
Luckily I had read in several places that the price of the flight should be no more than $70. 
So, as usual, the best and cheapest tickets are directly from the source.

Anyway, my flight was supposed to be at 8 am. Then thick fog rolled in so it would have been impossible to see anything. So the new time became 12.30. The fog was gone by 10, but I was content to wait.
But then it became 2.
And then 3.
And then "I don't know."

It was a clear, sunny day at this point and the sound of planes taking off was irritating. The airport is so tiny that the only planes regularly coming and going are those of the tours.
I eventually became so fed up that I got my money back and left.

I wasn't that disappointed over not seeing the Lines, I couldn't make up my mind deciding if $70 was worth it or not. 
I was most irritated by people like that guy who want to charge double just so they can pocket the rest. And I don't know what was wrong at the airport but you'd think with so many people wanting to do the flight that they'd have a bit better organisation. Like first come, first served.

But anyway, after a couple of buses I made it to Paracas where I spent the night.

Paracas is a tiny town - about 500 people - right on the beach. And just next door is Paracas National Reserve and a short boat ride into the ocean are the Islas Ballestas.
These islands are very important for sea lions and several species of birds as well as responsible guano farming.

It is amazing the amount of birds to be seen on these islands. There are Peruvian Pelicans flying overhead and more than two species of terns to be easily seen diving into the ocean. Humboldt Penguins - very similar to the African Penguin - shuffle along the rocks and Peruvian Boobies are impossible to miss.
We even managed to see Bottlenose Dolphins playing in the wakes of the boats.
The sea lions are easy to find and usually their typical lazy selves sunning on the rocks. But on occasion you can hear the growls and exhalations of fighting males.

So for most people who canīt afford a cruise to the Galapagos, this is a pretty good subsitute. Except the Blue-footed Boobies, the Galapagos wins with those.

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