I don’t think many people would stop at small coastal town Paracas, if it wasn’t for the famous wildlife haven of the Isla Ballestas, a group of islands a short boat journey away.
Arriving in the evening, we spent the first night at Icthus Paracas resting up, before getting up early for the boat trip to the islands, ahead of a bus tour to the national park. I ate a bowl of random seafood soup.
The boat trip to Isla Ballestas was really interesting and we had the opportunity to see ancient pre-Inca lines carved into the stone, see (a few) penguins in their natural habitat, loads of marine birds and, best of all, lots of sea lions.
It was great to see the sea lions en mass and if you visit at the right time you will also get the chance to see more penguins.
There are a huge amount of sea birds because, apparently, there are huge amounts of fish, but locals are restricted to line fishing and must not use nets that could have a profound impact on the whole eco-system.
The boat trip was awesome and a real bargain but the national park visit in the afternoon was quite disappointing (boring!).
In retrospect, we wouldn’t have bothered with that part of the trip as you essentially drove around sand dunes for a few hours and had a chance to see flamingos from a hefty distance. They could’ve been seagulls painted pink from that distance and you couldn’t tell.
The best photos I got at the national park were from the pelicans, which weren’t shy at all.
The tour was inexpensive so was a decent day out. I think it was about £20 in total.
That night, after the tours, Ashleigh was really, really ill and was up all night regurgitating overpriced seafood we’d had at a restaurant in the park. I ate the same food, as did a couple we were hanging around with, so not sure what the trigger was. But she was really ill. Really, really ill. All night long. Like every 20mins. Poor thing. Haven’t smelt such a pungent scent of vom since a rough boat ride in Thailand seven years ago, where most passengers were handing over filled bags like it was a requirement to ride. To make matters worse, there was a 15 year old’s birthday party next door and they blasted out awful tunes until 5am.
The next morning we got a car to the desert town of Huacachina. Luckily it was only a few hours drive, so the only sign of skid marks was on the tarmac below.