|Up early as we have a boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands. We meet our guide in the centre of Paracas and walk down to the wharf where there is a twin powered motorboat that holds 40 people waiting for us. We all board and head out first to The Paracas Candelabra which is a prehistoric geoglyph found on the hillside in the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay. It is estimated to date back to 200 BC, although many believe it is much older. With a large, branchlike appearance, the purpose and meaning of the Candelabra remain unknown. There has been much speculation as to the reason it may have been constructed. Was it a godly symbol, a gigantic seismograph, or simply a navigational tool for sailors? The Paracas Candelabra is estimated to be approximately 595 – 800 feet tall and can be seen from as far as 12 miles out at sea. The geoglyph was created by cutting two feet deep into the hardened soil, with rocks placed around the figure. Quite impressive!
We continue on to the Ballestas Islands. Here are literally millions of birds including Inca Turns, Guanay and Red legged cormorants and Peruvian boobies. There is so much bird poop on the island that they harvest it for fertilizer. It is the shear amount of birds that is staggering. Back to shore and we pack our suitcases and head to the bus meeting point where we leave on a free tour of Paracas National Reserve. The same barren sandy desert scenery that we saw from Lima to Paracas leads us to some beautiful coastline. Here one of the beaches has red sand from the underwater eruption that formed the nearby red cliffs and hence the red sand.
Back to Paracas where we swap our bus for a PeruHop bus and we head to Huacachina. We pass through large crop growing areas, citrus, grapes and other crops. The land here is very fertile and green compared to what we have seen.
The drive through Ica to Huacachina takes a little longer than expected and we arrive around 2.30. Huacachina is a 'desert oasis' and that is exactly what it is - a oasis, small body of water, surrounded by enormous sand dunes. It is known for sand-boarding and dune buggies. Unfortunately on 10 August 2 people were killed in a sand buggy accident. Consequently the Government has halted all sand buggies in the area until better safety measures are put in place. We are too old for sand-boarding but we wander along the bottom of the dunes closest to the water and watch everyone else. I climb to the top of the smallest dune and over the other side are some sand-boarders either lying down and going head first of standing up and looking professional! It looks lots of fun, if only I were younger.
Tonight we eat at Desert Nights rooftop terrace. Steak, asparagus and potatoes for me and kebabs for Phil. An excellent meal PEN 75 or A$30. 20% off for PeruHop -yeah!!!