After we stayed in Lima for another day to fully recover from my illness we started on our way south. Parracas is a small town 200km south of Lima that lives from the tourism. The reason for tourists to come to this little place is a couple of islands close to the cost. A huge number of different birds live on these little islands together with a small penguins and sea lions.
After a noisy night (it has been Halloween night with a lots of drinking and singing going on in town) we got up to line up with these hundreds of tourists. Large groups of tourists were coordinated by the trip organizers. I felt a little bit like being in a herd of cattle, not exactly knowing what was going on around me. The tour guide that picked us up from the hotel has disappeared and so we end up in a different group of people. And like one of the herd I just thought we best go with the masses and finally just ended up in one of the boats somehow.
Once we left the harbor the many boats spread so that you could hardly see any other boats. We past a large sign that was carved into the shore, a few hundret meters long. As the geoglyphes at Nazca they meaning is unknown but quite impressive. And even though this carving has been directly at the sea, influenced by the strong winds here, it lasted for so long.
We leave the coast and the boat takes course to the islands. The islands are a sight for itself: a couple of rocks laying there in the sea with steep cliffs and a lot of caves and bridges. It looks like the phantasy island of a pirate movie and I wouldn’t have been surprised a lot if the Black Pearl appeared suddenly.
There are birds everywhere: small black ones, large pelicans, white middle sized… in fact birds of all colors and sizes. And they are all in large numbers. A constant cawing of thousands of birds mix with the splashing sound of the waves crashing on the rocky shores of the islands.
The smell is an interesting mixture of the salty sea and the bird’s dung in which the rocks are covered. In fact this dung used to be one of the main export goods of Peru as it is known as one of the best fertilizer.
The captain of our small boat maneuvers the vessel very close to the shore, so we got a perfect view on all these different animals. And there is more than just birds: sea stars, crabs, shells of all different kind appear. And finally some birds I wouldn’t have expected here: penguins. These little cute things are staying here on this island. It is a very small type: Humboldt Penguins. They are really fantastic with their clumsy way they move around solid ground. And it is tricky terrain for them with all the steep rocks and the high steps they have to take. Just watching one of them helplessly trying to get up on a rock made my day. He fell over on his belly again and again, but eventually he made it. Persistent little guy!
Going around another corner of the islands finally sea lions hang around on little mini islands. The males posing and showing off, some getting into a real fights and others (most of them) just hanging around lazy on the rocks. The way they lay there make the rocks look like a real cozy place even though some of them lay there in a real uncomfortable situated places.
It was fantastic to see these animals so close in their natural sorroundings. They seem to be totally fine with the situation and just look at you in a mixture of boredom and curiosity.
The whole boat trip took two hours of which one hour we spend with the animals on the island. It was a fantastic tour and made me even forgot the terrible herding experience from the morning.
We happily returned to the hostel and packed our bike to make it to Nazca the same day.