19.02.2014 - 20.02.2014 28 °C
Overnight bus from Arequipa, first thru the winding mountain roads and valleys, then thru the desert, we are on our way to the town of Paracas, via Pisco. Descending from 2500 meters above sea level, mountains give way to rocks and then to sand, and then sand to the ocean, Pacific abuts the desert dunes, not the beach here.
Since Pisco is not a scheduled bus stop, and Paracas too small to actually have a bus terminal, we ended up on a Lima bound bus.
Bored to death due to innumerable stops made by the bus earlier and eager to get to stop the soonest, looking out the window, we spot a Pisco sign at the side of the road amidst pisco fields on the desert.
Getting ready to get off, waiting for the bus to make a stop, we notice we are already in another town! Bus crew forgot to drop us off. Driver makes an emergency stop on the highway and lets us off. We cross the highway to head back in Pisco direction to possibly catch a bus or hitch hike. One of the cars we waive at stops and agrees to take us in to Pisco for five Soles. We get in the car, we are about 20 mins out of downtown Pisco it turns out. It also turns out, this car is delivering a package to a factory in Pisco. Both the package and us safely delivered in Pisco, from there we take a collectivo to Paracas. Once again, it turns out this collectivo is not only a shared taxi, but also a food and package delivery car to nearby fish oil factories.
3 packages delivered to factories, in about 30 mins we reach Chaco, the town in Paracas, and check in to a hotel, book Islas Ballestas tour
Ballestas are a group of small islands off the coast of Paracas Reserve peninsula, and are home to many many birds, a lot of sea lions and some penguins.
So the next morning, we leave on the two hour morning tour to survey the islands from the boat, but unfortunately tourists are not allowed on the island, only occasional bird dropping collectors are. Since there are "millions" of birds around, bird droppings pile up on the islands and then scraped off by collectors about every 7-8 years, and shipped to farms in the area to be used as fertilizer.
The bonus of the trip is to see the "candleholder" drawn on the side of a hill in the reserve. Obviously, mysteries about why it was drawn are a many.
Back on land, we chill-kill time back at the hotel for a day, before catching our bus to Lima, there isn't much else to do around Paracas apparently, which is why the place is packed even in the low season.