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Published: November 14th 2012
Leaving Huaraz behind it was time to once again head back to the sea, as the truck winds its way along the mountain passes you can feel the air around you change, breathing returns to normal and the slightly heady sick feeling disappears, thankfully the altitude hasn’t affected me too much, and hopefully the more time I spend at it the easier it will be, some haven’t been so lucky, people have been floored by the change in altitude only recovering when returning back below.
Driving into Liam in the early afternoon, it’s astonishing to see the diversity of the city, you pass by the slums of brightly coloured box houses, stacked precariously on the muddy hillsides across from gleaming shopping centres, cars held together with sticky tape and a prayer parked next to gleaming new Mercedes.
Having visited Lima a few years ago I took the chance to take a few days off from playing the tourist this time around and instead spent the time appreciating being back in a lively thriving cosmopolitan city, a couple of shopping trips replaced the broken camera and enabled me to stock up on various necessitates for the
upcoming Inca trek. Figuring out the local bus system was a slight challenge but fortunately whilst we were stood around scratching our heads and pondering how you go about getting a lima equivalent of an oyster card (needed to even access the bus stops) a couple of local ladies decided that they would take pity and not only explained it all but were headed in the same direction so helped with negotiating the bus Citychange. This way we spent the day travelling from the centre of Lima, with its colonial Spanish architecture to the costal district of Miraflores and back.
After a few days in Lima it was time to get back on the road, heading out to Paracas and the Ballestas Islands
. Spanning 335,0000 hectares of land and sea the Paracas National Park is regarded as one of the most important marine reserves in the world. The Ballestas Islands are known as the poor mans Galapagos, seeing that I wasn’t able to fit a visit to the Galapagos this trip (it’s on the list along with climbing the Cotopaxi volcano next time I’m back in this side of the world) I was really excited about seeing the
marine life that inhabits the islands.
Boarding a boat in Paracas for a tour of the islands we set off to see what animals we could find, unfortunately (as seems to happen to me on this trip a lot) the boat made it 2 minutes out of the port before spluttering to a stop…… fortunately it couldn’t have been planned any better, whilst the captain and his crew muttered in Spanish and did various things to the engines, we got to watch dolphins playing in the water beside us. 20 minutes later whatever the issue was had been fixed and we were on our way once again.
We watched Homboldt Penguins waddling about, Blackish Oystercatchers, Guano Comorants and Peruvian Boobies swooping around vast colonies of Sea Lions, sunbathing on the rocks. The startling biodiversity around the islands is the result of the merging of two currents, the warm northern waters of El Nino and the cooler waters of the Humboldt. The climatic conditions produced by the combination of these two currents create the perfect environment for the marine life.
Historically the islands were home to the Paracas people from 1200BC through
to 200AD and today we got to see some remains of their culture in the form of an enormous candelabra etched into the sand.
Leaving the water behind it was time to head to the desert for sand boarding, dune buggy riding and sleeping out under the stars.
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