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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Islas Ballestas y Paracas National Reserva

Good afternoon friends!  First of all I must say GO RIDERS!  The Grey Cup is today at 6pm Peru time and I finally found a site, thanks to my lovely massage girl Ana, to stream it live.  Josh got to come home early today because it is election time in Lima, and since it is illegal not to vote here, all the labourers had to leave to vote so there was no one left on site to help the guys.  So they came home.  In all the time we have been together, I don't think Josh has ever had a three day weekend, so this is about as close as I can ask for!  So we are having a football filled day, first the Bears (not looking so hot right now) then the Riders!  So excited.

On Friday, we were up bright and early, at about 3:45AM (not so different than Josh's normal 4:15), it was a lot too early for me but I couldn't wait for what the day had in store!  Haku tours picked us up at 4:30 and Rodrigo, our guide, and Alonso, our driver were bright eyed and ready for the three hour drive we had ahead.  I finally got to leave Lima by car, so that in itself was decently exciting.  We drove passed Chilca, where Josh works, about a one hour drive from our place.

We continued on and had a quick pitstop in Chincha.  We arrived at the Puerto de Paracas (Port of Paracas) exactly when we were supposed to be there, 8:00, not a moment too soon.  We were herded out to a large speed boat that held about 40 people.  We had an english and spanish speaking captain, so that made it much easier to understand all of the information that we were being told.  Islas Ballestas is known as the Peruvian Galapagos, as well as the Poor Man's Galapagos, because it costs about 12 dollars to go out on the boat tour.  You can actually only go out on to one of the islands, and I'm not really sure how.  but I know you can rent dune buggys and dirtbikes and drive around all over the sand dunes.  The other islands are covered in birds and are just rocks and the only people currently allowed out there are biologists, for the safety of the animals and birds as well as for your own safety.  The islands are all completely covered in guano (bird poop) and the guano is actually harvested to be used for fertilizer all over the world.  In the 1800s Peru's economy was 80% based on the guano business.  It was sent to the UK and the USA.  This is how Peru became a rich country.
The islands are home to a very diverse ecosystem and hundreds of different birds, mammals and sea life.  Sea lions, Humboldt Penguins, Dolphins, turtles, whales, flamingos, gulls, pelicans, boobies, and many more.  I am going to bombard you with photos now and will tell you as much as I can.  If you have any questions please be sure to ask and I will do my best to find out the answers.

The port, as we were getting on our boat.

the view of one of the islands from shore

 the first one is a little blurry, but Bottlenose Dolphins racing our boat!

The Candelabra.  Carved into the hillside in 200AD, it was said to be used for navigation. It doesn't get covered because the wind blows over it, not directly into it.

turkey vulture

sea lions on a beach

sea gulls

Humboldt Penguins

show off sea lion

Peruvian Pelicans

Pelicans and Penguins.  If you look close the penguins are holding hands.

Penguin holding a feather in his mouth.

mama and baby Peruvian Booby

mom, dad and babies


Peruvian Boobys

turkey vulture

Inca Tern

Peruvian Pelicans

Pretty amazing right?  I have never actually seen Penguins, sea lions or bottlenose dolphins in the wild and those are 3 of my favorite animals!

When we finished up, we got a few minutes to walk around the gift shops in the port.  As always some lovely things!  We then headed to the Paracas National Reserve.  It is the 6th driest place on earth and I have never been in a desert of that capacity.  It is also unique because the desert goes right up to the ocean, and yet there still is less that 10mm of rain a year.  We visited various beaches and points of interest.  It was really awesome but man it was so windy and dusty!  I am a beach person, not a desert person!

Snail Fossils over 36 million years old


sea kelp fossil

Rider Pride in the desert

view of the cliffs from the Catedral viewing point

The Catedral was a natural rock formation connecting the land to the island.  In 2007 the huge earthquake that hit the area destroyed it.

what the Catedral used to look like

Josh and Tan

me, on Beack Yumaque, playing with a crab

The beach was made up of gorgeous seashells

Red sand beach (Playa Rojas) created from red volcanic rock

The water eroded under the cliffs

Josh out on the cliff

After having gotten up at 3:40AM, driven for 3 hours, taken a dramamine so I didn't get sick on the boat, and wandered around the hot desert for a few hours, we were ravenous.  We really should have eaten sooner, but that wasn't an option.  Should have packed more snacks!  We stopped for lunch at a very rustic, local restaurant.  There were actually 4 restaurants in a small little area, and as soon as we got near enough, we had employees running beside our car, begging us to go to their restaurant.  We chose a nice one, with a view of the ocean and some americans claiming the food was great.  The hostess took us over to see the fresh catches of the day, heads still on.  Not my favorite thing, but h well.  Josh and I ordered one of our favorites, Parmesan scallops, and I got the sea bass.  It really was delicious!  They even shaped the rice into a dolphin!

We then headed over to the Paracas museum.  For some reason I didn't take a picture of it, but it was a huge very modern looking building in the middle of nowhere desert.  It told all about the ecosystems of Paracas and Peru, and the animals of the Ballestas islands.  It also told about the destruction of these ecosystems and how the animals and species are disappearing.  It was a really amazing museum given the location!  

After that, we were on our way home.  I don't remember much because I seriously slept the entire way. I was so exhausted!  It was another AMAZING peruvian day!  I would recommend it to anyone coming to Peru!


  1. It looks so pretty! I loved all of the pictures and the animals! Wish Brian and I had made it out there, but oh well. Are those the islands you can see across from the light house?

    1. It was gorgeous! They are actually 3 hours south by Pisco!

  2. Hola Tanya,

    Estan lindas las fotos!
    Gracias por estar en contacto con haku

    Te deseo un gran dia!

    Zuly López