Puzzled by Paracas
We were a little confused as to where to head to next, with the days up our sleeve’s we wanted to make one more stop before arriving in Lima however it wasn’t all that obvious as to where that should be. The guidebook offered up the town of Pisco but when we consulted the transportation from Ica to Pisco, Cruz del Sur did not even go there but it did go to Paracas which didn’t actually feature in the book (which is unusual) but we went along anyway. It was only an hour bus trip departing at 2pm, so we grabbed some lunch beforehand but in true Cruz del Sur fashion we were served a small entree, hot chicken dish, delicious dessert and drink even though the ticket only cost us $9, fantastic service.
The main draw card for the Pisco area are the Ballestas Islands , aka “the poor man’s Galapagos”. From Paracas you can take a boat trip out to the islands to observe their thriving wildlife, you can not get off the boat and the explore the islands themselves but the boats that offer the service are ideal for sightseeing. They are pretty powerful speedboats that fit about 25 people with an open top so you can see all around you, the trip cost 30Soles and we then had to pay an additional 12Soles at the pier. Boats leave from the main pier at 8am and 10am, there may be afternoon trips too but we were not aware of these, we booked through our hostel.
The trip is only about two hours, and after much hooha we finally boarded the boat, strapped on our life jackets and took off for the islands. Along the way we also pulled up along another island where we viewed a huge engraving into the face of the rock, very similar to the Nazca lines also found in Peru.
The islands were abundant in wildlife, we saw so many different kinds of birds and so many of each, it was quite magical. We only saw a handful of penguins and a few sea lions which was probably quite disappointing for the other tourists as brochures of the tour show seas of both, however we were happy to only see a few as we have already seen our fair share in the past. We also saw some crazy looking marine life, crabs and sunfish, and the actual terrain of the islands themselves and left over ruins were interesting too. The tour was the perfect amount of time, not too drawn out and I really enjoyed the actual boat and the fact it was sturdy and not powered by a tiny motor.
The actual town of Paracas was pretty peculiar, and we didn’t really get what was going on. There were incredible resorts along the coast line however they were absolutely empty, the town was pretty run down although did have plenty of options for food and drink, which we found pretty pricey. It was all kind of weird, and there were many makeshift structures and not a hell of a lot to do in the town, we later found that the town had fallen victim to a tsunami about six years ago, which explained a lot. Another option which we didn’t do ourselves is to take another boat trip out to the Paracas National Reserve, I have seen some pics and the coastline looks pretty impressive from this tour.
I would say a visit to Paracas is worthwhile if you are already in Huacachina, in fact you can even take a day trip from there as it is only one hour away. It is also only four hours away from Lima, so it makes for a good stopover if you are wanting to catch more of the Peruvian coastline.