Poor Man's Galápagos - Paracas

Trip Start Aug 23, 2008
Trip End Sep 28, 2008

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Onto Paracas (and the nearby city of Pisco - yes of Pisco Sour fame!! This is the city where the drink originated from..

Paracas and nearby Pisco was hit by an 8.2 earthquake last July with an estimated 600 to 800 people in the area killed and the areas devastated. They are now in the middle of the rebuild. It would be interesting to come back to see the area in 5 years time as the work they are doing will make it a beautiful place.

The drive from Lima to Paracas was amazing... hours of rolling sand dunes.. just complete sandy landscape with wooden buildings sitting on the dunes.... like a moonscape.. it is so arid and so unexpected and quite beautiful.

We arrived at the little bus yard around 5pm. (cos that what it was a dirt compound with a shed- this was the terminal). All the hostels and hotels had sent cars to collect or hustle new guests for their business.

Everyone started to disperse and still no sign of anyone from our hostel, then suddenly a little guy was beside me and said Santa Maria.. yep thats us.. we followed him behind the building and their was our pickup vehicle - A dune Buggy - how good was that! Rob lets me have the front and the guy (no english) offered Rob with hand actions the option of driving..we dont think so... He takes off in the wrong direction as we had past our hostel coming in.

I pointed the other way thinking oh oh this is going to cost us money, but the guy just smiled and made a cirlce sign and sure enough he just took us for a burn thru the paddocks before arriving at the hostel - no charge as the buggy belongs to the hostel - good start!

We wandereded to the seaside restaurant area for dinner and ended up spending the night with a your german couple Roland and Nicole who are on their 3rd last day of their 5 week holiday - all in Peru. Great company so a good night. The only disappointment was that my fears were confirmed and the Peru Pisco sour couldnt compete with my Liguaria Bar in Chile's one... hee hee. Even thought the Pisco Sour is a peruvian drink it is popular all over Sth America The origin of the drink being Pisco only 20 minutes from where we are staying but I think the problem is in Peru they mix it with Lime and in Chile they use lemon..thats my theory anyway.

8am next day we are booked to go on a boat to take us out to the Ballestas Isles which are a short distance off the coast.

The Paracas Peninsula is one of the greatest marine reserves of the Americas. Hundreds of kinds of birds, penguins and sea lions are easily seen on the shores of the islands.

Our boat also stopped to see the hill known as El Candelbaro which has engravings similar to the Nazca Lines on it (the pattern looks like a Candelstick hence the name). It is not known if it is connected to the Nazca lines or if it was made by ancient sailors as a navigational guide due to fog in the area.

The trip was good and many people on the boat were so excited and enraptured by what we saw but I think Australians are spoilt for wildlife as we were impressed but it was not spectacular as we have penguins, sealions and lots of birds dont we....??

On returning to shore we were picked up in a 4WD for a tour of the Paracas National Reserve. Now this both Rob and I loved this tour..... it was an amazing place and history - but no one else we spoke to felt it could compare to the marine reserve.. go figure.. I think its that spoilt Australian habitat thing again - this Park reserve was like nothing we have at home..fascinating... anyway...

The name Paracas means "sand storms". I havent written earlier but I didnt know that Lima doesnot get rain. It doesnt have a rain season at all and so as I mentioned at the beginning the hours of driving between Lima and Paracas were continuous sand dunes.
Their water is piped from the mountains and they also use bore water. This made for spectacular scenery and the park which is sand made from fossils millions of years old was amazing - and I cant describe it so will post some pictures.. which wont show it either..heee heee.

Lunch was at the fishing village of Lagunillas and what a suprise. No word of exaggeration but this was the best seafood meal we HAVE EVER HAD... and I dont think Ill ever order scallops again cos they'll never be matched. Great way to spend Rob's birthday (even though its only the 29th here.. it's the 30th at home - so he can have 2 birthdays!)

Departed at 4pm with our arrival back in Lima around 7.30pm.. a great couple of days....
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