Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve is basically a massive beach. To be more precise, it is coastal desert which has been designated part of of a marine conservation area, to protect the various forms of wildlife there. Also it helps preserve the heritage of the region. It is located in the province of Ica, some 3 hours drive south of Lima, Perú.DSCN2522The desert landscape is out of this world.

DSCN2498There is an abundance of fossils of prehistoric marine life forms.

DSCN2530A rare example of a beach of red sand.

DSCN2505A part of the rock formation known locally as “The Cathedral”.

DSCN2536Enjoying a break with a spot of fishing. The one in the middle is my driver/guide, Fredy.

DSCN2554Also planning on fishing.

DSCN2552Hovering, looking for somewhere clean to land. No chance!!

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Las Islas Ballestas

I travelled south from Chiclayo to Paracas via bus and then onto Pisco in a taxi. I had to change buses in Lima, which involved a 3 hour wait. During the wait, I managed to fall out with the restaurant staff, who somehow had managed to lose my order. They seemed dumbfounded when I insisted on having my money back but eventually saw sense.

The journey overall took more than 21 hours during which I dozed a lot but I was very tired when I got to my hotel. I went out for dinner and then had an early night ready for an early start the next day to the Islas Ballestas, a marine wildlife sanctuary close to the coast.DSCN2491I was on a boat similar to this one. There are many boats that do the tour of the islands, which lasts about 2 hours.

DSCN2396The tour starts with a look at some of the other boats in the port…

DSCN2402…before moving quickly to the islands.

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DSCN2418There is a massive population of birds…

DSCN2430…seals and sea lions…

DSCN2422…and Humboldt penguins.

DSCN2448The islands were a source of guano for many years, which was exported around the world as fertilizer. The bird population is busy replenishing the stock.

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DSCN2465Affectionate…

DSCN2467and sharing.

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Chaparrí

Chaparrí ecological reserve is a dry forest area in northern Perú about 70kms north of Chiclayo. It is home to some endangered species, such as the Spectacled Bear and White Winged Guan as well as many other types of flora and fauna.

I was part of a small group which included myself, a couple from Lima and our driver. We travelled in a family sized car but this was not a great idea as the last 15kms of the journey are more suited to a 4×4. I suspect the underneath of the car sustained some damage as we neared our destination.

At the ticket office, we were joined by our guide, Juan, who was very knowledgeable, as you would expect and eagle eyed. He was constantly pointing out subjects worthy of photographing, however, as frequently seems to be the case, the subjects proved to be uncooperative. This was not helped by another group of tourists who failed to realise that if you make a lot of noise, it tends to frighten the wildlife away.

Chaparrí appears to be a great place for bird watchers. I imagine it is a good place to stay for a couple of days, so that you can settle down and wait for the birds and animals, instead of trying to pursue them through the forest. Nevertheless, I had yet another good day out.

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DSCN2331I was happy that this bear was some distance away.

DSCN2354Balancing act.

DSCN2355Even further away.

DSCN2338This bear was in an enclosure. As I understand it, it is used for bears which have been recovered from people who have captured them illegally. The bears are put in the enclosure before being released back into the wild.

DSCN2369Probably not another Inca bath.

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DSCN2341Not quite perfect camouflage. Well, I spotted it.

DSCN2388After walking for a great distance for a few hours, chasing birds through bushes and thickets, these 2 posers were waiting for us when we got back to the car park. I love irony.

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Pete Perusing Perú

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I was woken up at silly o´clock this morning by a noisy neighbour. Unable to get back to sleep, I decided to have a pictorial review of life in Perú over the last 3 months. I have selected a few of my favourite photos.

Las Playas

I went on a trip to the seaside recently, to some beaches near Chiclayo in Perú. As there were only two clients for this trip, the tourist company, Sipán Tours, provided us with a car and driver instead of the usual minibus. Also, because David, the other client, did not speak any Spanish, they provided an English speaking guide, Christopher. It was a very pleasant day.

I was surprised when, on our way to the beach, we stopped at an ostrich farm, although I did make a connection with sand, where ostriches allegedly bury their heads. There was no evidence of this at the farm, however.

The farm is not a sanctuary and the birds, ostriches and emus, are reared for their feathers, their skin and of course for their meat. My previous experience of eating ostrich meat was not pleasant, so I declined the offer to try it.

DSCN2208Young emus…

DSCN2209…and a solitary young ostrich.

DSCN2214Not so young and very inquisitive.

DSCN2223A much larger and much less friendly ostrich.

From the ostrich farm, we moved onto the beach at Pimentel, which was really pleasant. So much better than the only other beach I have visited in Perú, at Lurín in Lima, which was badly polluted.

DSCN2231The pier is open to the public for a small admission fee.

DSCN2232The beach is popular with surfers.

The waterfront has many restaurants, as you might expect in such a popular seaside town with a strong fishing tradition. I finally decided to try ceviche, which is a national dish of raw fish marinated in lemon. It was delicious and I am looking forward to having it again. Unusually, for me, I did not take a photo of the meal but have located one which is similar to the meal we had.

Ceviche de pescado (La Punta, Callao)
By Jorge G. Mori ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

DSCN2245After lunch, we went to look at the Caballitos de Totora. Reed boats used by the local fishermen.

DSCN2239Fishermen returning home…

DSCN2243…with today´s catch.

DSCN2237This attracts a crowd of prospective customers…

DSCN2248…and a crowd of scavengers.

DSCN2260From Pimentel, we travelled to nearby Santa Rosa where the fishermen use much larger craft…

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DSCN2229…with which the reed boats have to compete.

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Cajamarca

After two months, the time finally came to leave Lima.  I travelled up to Cajamarca on an overnight bus journey lasting more than fifteen hours. The journey was not unpleasant – for me anyway, as I slept fairly well. I don’t doubt that my sleeping must have annoyed the other passengers. I soon got settled into my hotel, the cheap but cheerful, Hostal Giraflores, which is more comfortable than the penthouse in Lima.

Cajamarca is famous for being the place where the Spanish conquered the Incas but it is also blessed with being surrounded by natural beauty. In the ten days that I will spend here, I hope to see as much as possible. At first look, the tour prices seem reasonable so I may rely on them rather than find my own way around. Except of course, for the city itself, which I have already been exploring on foot.

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The Plaza de Armas was a good place to start.

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The cathedral.

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The church of San Francisco.

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All of the tour operators and money changers seem to be in or close to the Plaza de Armas.

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There are some steep hills but I feel happier walking here than I did in Lima. It certainly is more tranquil.

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Looking toward the Cerro Santa Apolonia

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Waterfall and Lagunas

After travelling up from Lima to Canta on Saturday we found a hotel at a reasonable cost with average accommodation. The Cancay Vento Hotel was comfortable enough but you have to be quick if you want a warm or hot shower. The hot water does not last long. Tired from the early start and the arduous journey, I had an early night and was up early raring to go the next day.

Things went somewhat awry, as our travelling companions of the previous day were not going to be joining us due to some family matter, as far as I could tell. So, after breakfast, Sonia and I decided to join a minibus tour about to depart for the local highlights. This was to include a visit to some small lakes at 4,500 metres above sea level, a height I had never attained before without the aid of an aeroplane. Having read about altitude sickness, I was prepared for it, should it occur. Canta, where we had stayed the night is at 2,800 metres and I was feeling fine.

The first stop we made was aptly named San Pedro.

San Pedro

San Pedro

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A view of the road we were on. A 3 point turn would be interesting.

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The quaint village of Cullhuay  let down by discrimination against men.  The gents toilet was locked.

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On to the waterfall. I had to wait ages to get a picture without people. Incredible how crowded it can get.

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Laguna Chanchun

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Laguna de Siete Colores

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I could just see the top of the roof of this bungalow from the edge of the lagoon so set off at sub-mountain goat speed, which slowed to sub-tortoise speed as the altitude started to affect me. It was worth it though.

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On the way back we stopped for lunch at a trout farm, Picigranja Huaras. Yes, trout again but it was fresh from the tank to the table. The farm is situated in a picturesque valley.

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That was the end of the tour. I have to give credit to the minibus driver as he was fully competent and did not give any anxious moments. Also the journey back to Lima was easier as it was Sunday evening and there was not much work taking place. When the roadworks are complete, the Canta region and Obrajillo, in particular will deservedly get a boost in visitors.

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