Islas Ballestas, the Poor Man's Galapagos

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November 18th 2008
Published: November 19th 2008
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Day 597 (15.11.08)

The Islas Ballestas are perched offshore from Paracas just north of where we´d been staying. An hour or so on the bus took us to this little town which was all but devastated last year as a result of a 7.9 earthquake. There is now a huge amount of construction work going on to repair the homes and businesses in the area.

Finding our way through the building sites we were soon climbing aboard a little boat that would take us out to the islands and donning the mandatory life jackets (just how extreme was this trip going to be?).

We were first taken to view the Candelabra. Similar to the Nazca lines it is a huge marking in the sand on a hillside and comes with all the usual wild theories as to its meaning/origin. After a quick stop here we were soon speeding across the water to the Ballestas Islands. As we bounced along the waves we were amazed by the seemingly endless lines of hundreds of seabirds flying in formation just inches from the water.

It wasn´t long before we caught a glimpse of the arched outcrops of the Ballestas Islands and we arrived to the sight, sound (and smell) of thousands of birds that have made the islands their home. Over the next hour or so we skirted the islands and were able to see the very cute black and white Humboldt penguins, pelicans, incan terns with their funny white 'eyebrows', various species of cormorant and many others! The sheer number of birds was incredible.

The islands are also home to thousands of sealions and we saw plenty sunbathing on the rocks and playing in the sea as we toured around. Our final stop on the tour is named 'Maternity Beach' as its where the mother sealions go to have their babies. The sands were almost entirley covered with sealions and there were hundreds more frolicking in the surf and swimming over to check us out. The noise was quite unbelievable! It had been a superb tour and we were sad when the boat turned back to head to town again but were treated to an awesome flypast from a group of pelicans as a send off!

Back in Huacachina we collected our bags and jumped on a bus to Nazca where we´d have to book our next major journey to Puno. Once in Nazca we booked an overnight bus and went back to the Walk On Inn who let us hang around there for the afternoon before our departure. We met up again with Beth, Stuart, Mike and Ellie, caught up on the news and learnt a great new card game before heading out for dinner and eventually back to the bus station.

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