Saturday, November 27, 2010

Islas Ballistas, Peru's Galapagos reserve

This is a must-see on any trip to Peru.  When we first started planning our trip, the Galapagos Islands were high on our list, but the cost was very prohibitive.  Located off Equador, and only reached by air and boat, there were restrictions on age (older than Katie) for most tours, and a high price tag for a group of 6 - well over $10G for most 5 day tours.... plus the extra time.  A good alternative in the guide books was Peru's "poor man's Galapagos", which honestly was perfect for our family - a day trip south of Lima and a taste of the wildlife unique to this area.... and truly 3 hours of bird poop was lots for this crew!
After an early start again with Rosita, and our awesome guide from our first day in Lima, Fabrizio, we headed south by 6 am for a VERY eventful day.  The area of Paracas 3 hours south of Lima was hit by a major earthquake in 2007, but the tourist facilities have been rebuilt in an effort to attract visitors and support the local economy.  Our 30-man motorboat was led by a bi-lingual Naturalist guide, and cost roughly 50 soles (less than $20 each).  The waters were calm, and the trip to the islands very enjoyable on the warm, sunny day.  There we saw colonies of Sea Lions, local penguins, and nesting cormorants - like, 200,000 of them!  And yes, holy guano, Batman, the island does STINK!  The refuge is basically a giant volcanic island, with caves and arches, and reminants of past bird-poop-harvest still evident (no longer actively mined, this resource was very valuable as a fertilizer for a couple hundred of years, more valuable at the time than gold, and even led to the "guano" wars with Spain and neighboring Chile... $75/kilo... drove the Peruvian economy in the 1700-1800's...

No comments:

Post a Comment