Birds and seals and penguins, oh my!
I’ve visited the jungle of Perú, seen the sierra and from May 16-19, I spent time in the southern half of Perú for the first time, exploring Nasca, Paracas, Ica and Huacachina.
A group of IFSA-Butler friends and I left Lima on a 3 a.m. bus and traveled until the early afternoon to Nasca. In Nasca, we took a 30-minute flight over the famous lines, really geoglyphs, in the desert. The lines are believed to have been created before the year 650 by members of the Nasca culture. Though there are many lines that range in complexity from basic geometric figures to complicated animal drawings, the flight took us over a dozen or so of the most famous, stylized lines. The 6-person plane made two complete circles around each figure that we saw so that the passengers on the “izquierda” and the “derecha” of the plane had the same opportunity to view it. By the end, almost all of my friends were feeling a little motion sick from the plane, but I loved each and every loop-de-loop.
The next day we took another early morning bus to the city of Paracas, located on the Pacific Ocean. We toured the Paracas National Reserve, home to many rock formations, species of wildlife (wild flamingos!) and beaches, including some with red sand.
Saturday was spent in Ica, where we toured a winery and pisco making facility called a bodega and got lots of free samples. One of the piscos they gave us was more than 40% alcohol – too strong for me! That afternoon we went to Huacachina, a desert oasis located just outside of Ica, for a roller coaster-like dune buggy ride and sand boarding. I tried sand boarding standing up, which is perhaps most similar to snowboarding downhill, and ended up falling over backwards covered in sand.
Saturday night was a bit of an adventure. Under the (now known to be false) impression that there was a cheap, frequent bus between Ica and Paracas that would take us back to our hostel, four of my friends and I decided to stay behind at the oasis for dinner. After eating, we learned there was no bus, and that we would need to take a cab to the bus station in Ica, take a bus ride to Pisco (a town that’s a half hour from Paracas) and convince a cab driver to take us to Paracas from there. Our final taxi ride was interesting. The driver apparently thought it was necessary to come to almost a complete halt and turn his 90s boy bands radio station way down every time there was a speed bump. Needless to say, after watching Final Destination 4 (a movie filled with crazy ways to die) on the bus ride, we were all a little freaked out the first time it happened. We made it to Paracas safe and sound a couple hours later only to find out the mayor’s raging birthday party was happening next to our hostel so no one could sleep.
Finally, on our last morning traveling, we took a boat tour of Las Islas Ballestas, off the coast of Paracas. Because of the abundance of birds, including Humboldt Penguins, and other wildlife, most notably fur seals and sea lions, some compare the islands to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. While I’ve never been to the Galapagos (would love to go if anyone is interested…), it was an incredible feeling to be only a few meters from animals that I’ve only seen in zoos. Though the Amazonian sloths are still my favorite, I would love to bring a penguin back to the United States with me too.
After the boat tour, our whirlwind trip was over, and it was back to the neblina of Lima. This adventure made me even more eager to take advantage of all that Perú has to offer. There are so many places to see in this country, and I have so little time left to finish all the trips on my Perú bucket list. Time to start planning again!