The day started with a 2-hour boat tour to Isla Ballestas. Referred to as ‘The Poor Man’s Galapagos’ we weren’t sure what to expect, except a lot of bird shit.
Literally. The anchovy-rich waters around these islands prove delicious for tens of thousands of birds. And, these birds provide so much poop that they actually collect it and export it.
First, we cruised by The Candelabra – a Nasca lines sort of carving in the hillside facing the ocean. Apparently, this is the only one of it’s kind that can be viewed from ground-level (although you have to be floating in the ocean to see it.) It’s supposed to be over 2000 years old. Why is it here and what does it mean – we have no idea.
Then, we approached the islands and were amazed by the number of birds. You can’t appreciate it until you see it and photos don’t do it justice. More birds than we have ever seen in one place, and possibly more birds than we’ve cumulatively seen in our lifetime. Some places on the islands were so covered in birds that it looked like the landscape was black.
We saw Humbolt penguins, Peruvian boobies, comerants, oyster catchers and gulls. Luckily, we recognized these from our Galapagos trip since we couldn’t hear a thing the guide said. We even spotted some free-divers going after sea snails. This water is COLD and I can’t imagine spending the day floating around in it looking for snails.
This bird watching is big business. We had pulled into Paracas the night before and booked a $10 USD tour within minutes. This morning, when we arrived we grabbed the last 3 seats on one of many large tour boats that all took off about the same time. Our boat was filled mostly by an extremely well-outfitted Swiss tour group. I’ve never seen so many expensive outdoor gear brands anywhere but REI.
Despite the touristy feel, it was really fun, especially for Bode. He was keen to identify the various birds and he knew most of them. When the show was over and we headed back to the mainland with a chilly ride , Bode spent the entire ride under Jason’s jacket.
We’ve heard that getting pooped on may be good luck, but we decided NOT getting pooped on this time was a better way to go. And, for some reason everything on this trip is on the left… so if you come, sit on the left side.