Las Islas Ballestas
Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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Where I stayed
We checked out of the guesthouse and caught a taxi to the bus station for 11 Peruvian nuevos soles (~$4.25). We had just missed the direct bus to Pisco so we caught one that would take an hour longer and drop us off at the highway crossroad instead for 33 PEN. The seats were surprisingly roomy so we brought all of our bags on with us.
Shortly after departure we saw a house-covered hill in the distance that looked like boxes randomly piled on top of each other. Leaving Lima, the bus seemed to stop more often than it drove
The highway south was cut through enormous sand dunes stretching from the sea to the inland mountains. Various stages of development radiated out from the Panamericana, from rustic shacks frozen in time to oil and gas refineries fueling the country's progress.
Despite the proximity to a city of almost eight million people, everything seemed so remote. Under the overcast skies, the landscape was a dismal grey and brown, except for the occasional mural or hut where someone decided to blow the family food budget on a bright coat of colourful paint. Thankfully, the sun came out as we neared our stop.
The transition from bus to taxi went fairly smoothly at the Cruce de Pisco. The first driver changed his price as we were about to get in so we chose taxi number two, which offered us a no nonsense direct trip along the coast to our hostel. Seeing the South Pacific Ocean from the other side was nowhere near as appealing as it had been in Australia.
Our hostel and most of the town of Paracas looked like it had also suffered during the 2007 earthquake that all but destroyed Pisco
A laneway separated the two rows of wooden-walled and steel-rooved rooms. Basic but clean suited us just fine for $15 a night. Free wifi and a small kitchen... even better!
We were a little disappointed to here that the tour we'd come all the way there for had been cancelled for a few days prior to our arrival due to rough seas, but a walk through the charming little town made it a worthwhile stop on the long journey south. We watched the sunset over the sea with seals swimming and pelicans playing near the plethora of fishing boats in the harbour. About an hour and a half after arriving we booked a bus ride out for the following day. Back at the hostel we made instant ramen noodles with carrots and peas for dinner. Another early bedtime and morning alarm would hopefully make us healthier and wiser.
The morning was calm and grey. A number of us waited around the hostel to hear if the tour boats were going out to sea or not
We boarded the boat, donned our suspect lifejackets and pushed off. The first stop was The Candelabra, a massive figure carved into the side of a hill. The tour guide explained the theories about how it was formed but no one really knows.
Next we moved on to the Islas Ballestas, the main attractions also known as the poor man's Galapagos. The spectacular rock formations were covered with birds and, of course, their droppings. We saw boobies, cormorants, pelicans and... penguins! There were also several sea lions out and about.
When we passed by the guards' living quarters we spotted several more Amazing Race ribbons, a large video crew and someone rappelling down from a platform high above. Unbelievably, it appeared that the show really was at the same site. Was it a sign? Would this be the closest we would come to being on the show?
On the ride back to the pier we saw more sea lions, pelicans and other birds diving to catch fish. We arrived in time to check out, say goodbye to our wonderful hosts Alberto and Lidia from Paracas Backpackers House and catch our bus to Nazca.