After breakfast on our hotel roof terrace, the Hotel Gran Palma, overlooking the bay in Paracas we went towards the harbour to catch a speedboat out to the Ballestas Islands. These are often referred to as the “poor man’s Galapagos” due to the wide variety of wildlife, mainly avian, on them. To get there we passed an area of mainland that was covered with pelicans. Then we went past El Candelabro, a giant carving in the sand, which is pretty cool. Not long after this we started to approach the white islands that are so coloured due to the amount of bird poo on them. From a distance the islands look as though they are rippling but on closer inspection this turns out to be the swarms of birds that are there. We saw Humboldt penguins (which I was seriously excited about as it has always been a dream to see penguins in the wild), boobies, seals, cormorants, crabs and many more species. The whole tour was 2 hours and was extremely interesting although photography was made difficult by the bobbing of the boat.
Next we went onto the Peru Hop bus for a tour of the Paracas Natural Reserve where we were driven to 3 viewpoints. The first was an area of coast where there was a collapsed arch, then a high view overlooking the red beach before finally heading down towards the beach itself. The points were all pretty gorgeous and I would have loved to have spent more time exploring the area. There are many companies offering quad bike tours around the reserve which I would have loved to have done if we had more time there.
From here we took the bus onwards to Huacachina, an oasis located in a valley created by massive sand dunes. It looks very exotic and is small enough to walk around in just a short amount of time. The main activity here is sand boarding and dune buggying so at 4pm we were picked up by our driver.
The tour started with the buggy being driven at high speeds up into the dunes bouncing us around all over the place. It was great fun and the dunes themselves are epic stretching out as far as the horizon. At one point we got out the buggy and were each given a sand board for us to slide down 3 fairly small dunes. Those who were used to snowboarding tried this standing up with varying degrees of success whereas those of us with less experience it was completed face first on your tummy. I was a little disappointed when we had to get back into the buggy as the boarding felt a little anticlimactic however what I didn’t realise is that those small three were just the warm-up. We were then taken to much larger dunes where we were able to pick up so much more speed and the adrenaline really hit. The only issue with going down so far was the need to walk back up the dunes at the other side which was hard work but so worth it for the reward of sliding down the next dune. An added bonus was seeing the sun set over the dunes as we hurtled back to the oasis at the end of the trip. This was such as a fun day but the highlight was definitely the buggy and sand board tour at the end.
Is there an animal you have always wanted to see in the wild? Have you tried sand boarding before, how did you find it?