We arrived in a small but touristy part of Peru called Paracas. Roughly 4 hours south of Lima on the coast and it is kind of the Peruvian version of Monterey. Well only so due to the fact that both are peninsulas and the climate and birdlife are similar. Originally we were going to spend two days here but it got extended to three days due to travel plans. Not much to do in this town except for visiting Paracas National Reserve and Islas Ballestas, which is referred to as the poor man's Galapagos haha. Upon arriving in the city, we are immediately targeted, as we walk to our hostel we were approached by four separate people all trying to get us on their tour to the islands. We decline and make it to our hostel finally where the owner charged us twice the amount than we were supposed to pay but we let it slide.
So after we check in we decide to hit the town and find a bar to watch World Cup, and alas we arrive for happy hour. After the game, we try paying our check and again the locals try charging us double but this time I fought back. So far the land has been beautiful and I love it here but it is frustrating to have just about every person trying to scam us just because we are white. Yes we have more money than them but I am in no means rich and I still have 5 months where I need to financially support my travel plans. So this drove us to join up with a travel system called PeruHop. For a fee of $225 USD we have transportation from Paracas to Ica and Huacachina to Nasca to Arequipa to Cusco as well as tours and activities included, overall absolutely a killer deal. Before our last day, we met a German lady named Claudia. We spent one of our days with her walking around the town alongside the beach and watching the World Cup final with her, which I'll admit was entertaining but horrible since she was the only one rooting for Germany haha. Beautiful scenery but unfortunately incredibly dirty beaches, swimming was not even allowed. We leave our part of the town and make it to the "rich side of town" where there are houses lined up along the beach which look incredibly out of place. Basically nothing too exciting in this town except for our trip to the reserve and islands.
On our last day in this town we finally take a boat tour to Islas Ballestas. First we go by El Candelabro geoglyph which was carved into a mountain side. No one exactly knows who carved it or when and it is similar to the Nasca lines but still very different. Overall was super cool to see from our boat. After going by the geoglyph, we head out to the islands. Upon arriving to the islands we see tens of thousands Peruvian Boobies which are super cool looking birds along with Inca Terns, Guanay Cormorants, Neotropic Cormorants, Red Necked Cormorants which only had red beaks and apparently are close to extinction and lastly for birds were the Humboldt Penguins :) We only saw two groupings of about 20 each but they were still adorable, so much better seeing them in the wild than behind acrylic that I'm used to from working at the aquarium. There were also a few sea lions here and there but again very used to them because of Monterey. The wildlife was awesome to see but the true beauty was the rock formations around the islands. Tons of little caves and arches and such amazing striations around all of the rocky islands. Due to high amount of birds flying above me, I was even pooped on... Yay guano is important though so it's ok haha.
After our trip to Islas Ballestas we later go to Paracas National Reserve.
Paracas National Reserve was like the Peruvian version of Death Valley except not deathly hot and the ocean was next to it. We only stopped there for an hour or two but that was enough because it was just vast desert for miles and miles. The area is effected by the South American and Nasca Plates which creates higher risks of earthquakes. The last one was in 2007 and was a 7.3 and before that a 9.2 in 1979. Every earthquake that occurs within the area drastically changes the environment as well as the Humboldt current which hits central Peru and causes massive swells and tides. Paracas even has the second longest wave in the world apparently. Our magnificent guide, Nilo, even described how currents are so strong that dolphins no longer come to the area and sea lions often get caught, die and wash up on shore. We also went to Yumaque Beach and climbed around some cliff sides and walked along the beach. We saw two decomposing sea lion carcasses on the beach even, which I'll admit was kind of cool to see haha. Overall, our final day in Paracas was absolutely the highlight from this area. We left with our group and continued onto Huacachina Lagoon outside of Ica. So that's it for now, will update again in Huacachina as we are here for 2 days. :)