Our first stop after Lima was a tiny village called Paracas. Finally being out of the big city we enjoyed the flair of the promenade and the beach even though we soon realized the village itself existed mainly because of tourism. There was a small fishing harbor but other than that it was just ho(s)tels, restaurants with humongous prices and stands where you could buy anything and everything. And the most funny (but soon super annoying) thing was that every single car driver honked at you to then ask you “Taxi?” I think we didn’t even see one official taxi around, they were all just normal cars passing by.
The first day we spent doing completely nothing. We stayed at the hostel’s roof terrace, went for beach walks and cooked for ourselves the first time in two weeks.
On the next day we jumped into one of those touristy boats to take us out to the Islas Ballestas. Those islands and the national reserve is what Paracas is known for. On the boat trip we saw a huge figure of a plant that was drawn into the sand of the desert. It preserves itself with the ocean winds and the salty air but scientists are still investigating what meaning and background it has. They have a few theories, however. Big mystery!
The “main attraction” on the tour was the vast variety of wildlife around the islands. We saw so many different kinds of birds flying around and trying to fish by letting themselves fall into the water with their heads in front. We saw beaches full of sea lions with their newborns and penguins that have been fasting for the last few weeks to regrow their fur. In the picture below you might need to take a closer look to see the penguins the and sea lion. (My lens is not really made for this. ;-) )
In the afternoon we drove out to the nearby reserve which is basically a desert peninsula with stunning beaches, cliffs and lots of different kinds of animals, especially birds. We brought a tent and stayed for the night. During the day the beach La Mina, which is advertised and talked about a lot, was crammed with Peruvians, most of them tourists, while the beach right next to it was almost empty.
In the morning we enjoyed the beach completely for ourselves. It was a great place to watch the loads of birds that were sitting on the cliffs and together threw them off to fly around at the same time. And when sitting still dozens of crabs around us dared to take a look outside. Some were carrying sand out of their holes, some just wondered around, we even watched a crab fight, but as soon as one of us moved you couldn’t even look fast enough and they were back safe in their holes in the sand.
Great and relaxing times, but if you come to go there be careful, we underestimated the sun in the mornings and burned ourselves from head to toe. And spent at least an hour pulling out 6 stings of my boyfriend’s toe because he stepped on a sea urchin.
Other than that we had a good time in Paracas. It is, however, really touristy so be prepared to be approached by loads of agency’s representatives, if you can call it like that. But it is definitely still possible to do your “own thing”.