Mini-Galapagos

With Marie-Hélêne @ her beautiful place in Lima

With Marie-Hélêne @ her beautiful place in Lima

When I was in Los Angeles I received this weird e-mail from a couple who asked me if I could get their jacket in the LAX airport. Apparently they forgot it on their flight and LAN refused to send it to them.  Marie-Hélène noticed my post on CS where I was looking for travel partners to join me on my road trip to Miami. Her husband Patrice worked in Miami from time to time so that’s why she asked me if I could bring the jacket to Miami.  Marie-Helene was from Canada & her husband Patrice was from Denmark but they both lived in Lima now.

Maire-Hélêne's fluffy dog Balthazar

Maire-Hélêne’s fluffy dog Balthazar

When I heard this, I told them I would come to Lima after my roadtrip in the States and I would bring their jacket. They were amazed I was willing to help them and to thank me, they kindly invited me in their home in Lima.  Patrice was on a business trip in Chile when I arrived but Marie-Hélène welcomed me with open arms. She lived in the beautiful San Isidro neighborhood. At the same time she also hosted Hannah, a girl from New Jersey who did her doctorate in Lima.

Cooking a homemade dinner @ Marie-Hélêne's place

Cooking a homemade dinner @ Marie-Hélêne’s place

The next morning I scrolled through the couchsurfing activities in Lima and noticed the post of Golnaz, a girl from Iran that lived in Germany since she was 13.  Golnaz left home in January just like me, had done a similar itinerary and was travelling 3 more months in South-America now. She was looking for fun travel partners or just locals to hang out.  We met up for drinks in the fancy neighborhood of Miraflores where she told me she was travelling with ‘Bamba Experience’, meaning everything was already organised & paid for. The only thing she could still choose were the dates where she would catch a bus or do a daytrip but the itinerary itself was fixed.

With a little help from Hannah

With a little help from Hannah

But it happened to be the exact same route I wanted to do, so we decided to travel together for a couple of weeks till Cusco where she would attend Spanish lessons.  Golnaz had a bus the same day to Paracas. I wanted to organise some things first and would join her the next day.
I spend the day with my host Marie-Hélène doing some normal daily things such as walking her crazy dog Balthazar, do some groceries,…  Great fun actually when you’re travelling for so long. In the evening Hannah & me cooked some home made food and I loved to hear her stories about her birthplace Kenia, a country I definitely wanna explore one day!

Paracas

Paracas

3am. I called a taxi to bring me to the Cruz Del Sur bus station where I took the 3.45am bus to Paracas. That bus was sheduled to arrive right at 7.15, perfectly on time for the tour to Islas Ballistas at 8am. I booked the island tour online with ‘Paracas Explorers’, the same one Golnaz had in her package.  I would advice everyone to book it online for only 40 soles (same price in Paracas) but the advantage is that they picked me up at the bus station and drove me directly to the agency to pay & collect my tickets. (From Desert Nights hostel in Huacachina/Ica a daytrip to Islas Ballestas costs only 45 soles, transport included!).

The highly wildlife populated 'Islas Ballestas'

The highly wildlife populated ‘Islas Ballestas’

Paracas is a small town along the Peruvian coastline who owes its Quechua name to the ‘paracas’, a strong wind that often blows along this coast.   It has a beautiful desert landscape where the reddish sand of some of the beaches are a result of high concentrations of iron on the surface.   It is also the getaway to ‘Islas Ballestas’ or mini-Galapagos as some locals refer to it.  it’s a small group of rocky islands situated just northeast of the Paracas peninsula, densely populated by great flocks of birds belonging to the several species which make their nests on the steep cliffs.  Enormous colonies of seals also inhabited the island’s pebble beaches.

Candelabro aka Tres Cruces

Candelabro aka Tres Cruces

On the way to Islas Ballestas, we could also spot the ‘Candelabro’ also known as ‘Tres Cruces’.  This enormous geoglyph of a trident-like figure of 130m by 80m was created by excavating the sand all the way down to the rock, giving it a contrasting color to the one of the surface.  It’s origins are unknown but it may have been a marker or symbol designed to guide navigators during the colonial or early republican period. Before embarking on the boat, we needed to pay 5 soles for the National Park entrance fee & 2 soles for the harbour tax.  I was not sure if Islas Ballestas was a must-do after my journey in Galapagos but I’m glad I did it!  The amount of birds, seals, Nazca boobies, etc. living on those small islands are just unreal and was spectacular to see!

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