Penguins in Peru!

Trip Start Jul 12, 2012
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Trip End Jun 21, 2013


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Sunday, July 15, 2012

I don't know what all the fuss about South American buses is about. The Cruz del Sur bus from Lima to Paracas made National Express seem like Megabus. It was luxury! There was food, reclining seats, Harry Potter movies. What more could you ask for? On the way, we drove through Pisco which was flattened in the 2007 earthquake and is now one big, dusty shanty town in the desert.  

Arriving in Paracas at dusk, I was thrilled to find that it was a sleepy seaside town - the perfect antidote to Lima. I was not quite as thrilled to see that my pre-booked accommodation was a building site. Stepping over the rubble, however, I found that the hostel inside was actually very nice and run by a sweet old man called Alberto. The evening was spent consuming ceviche and cervezas by the seafront.

The reason people come here is to see Las Islas Ballestas, which are teeming with birds and other wildlife. It's an early morning speedboat ride out to the islands and a slightly underwhelming experience. There were plenty of birds: grey, seagull-type things. More excitingly, there were also some sea lions and two penguins. Penguins in Peru, you ask? Yes, they have the Humboldt penguins. Much of the Pacific coast of South America is cooled by the Humboldt current which brings icy water up from Antartica, so penguins are very happy in Peru.

Finally, the tour of the Paracas National Reserve was also a bit underwhelming. Being a nature reserve, you might expect flora and fauna, but in fact it's a desert moonscape straight out of Star Wars. Once resigned to seeing nothing, I enjoyed the tour. And it did include some splendid ocean views and charming Spanglish commentary so it was money well-spent. 
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