Peru (Part 1): Lima, Paracas and the Poor Man’s Galapagos

This is the first post in a little series I’ll be doing on my 3 months spent in South America. I’ll mostly be focussing on overviews of cities and lots of photos rather than every detail, as this isn’t solely a travel blog, but if there’s anything specific you want me to cover or you have any questions, leave a comment and let me know!

Last year after a stress and anxiety-ridden number of months, I decided I had to get out. By hook or by crook and if I had to go alone, I was going. The money I’d been putting away for adult things like a mortgage weren’t really things I wanted, so I decided to put that money in a travel pot and GO. Fortunately my boyfriend wanted to come too and in about 8 weeks from the idea, we were on a plane to Lima, Peru, ready to spend 11 weeks on a South American adventure, a part of the world I’d fall in love with.

LIMA

We arrived early evening and were beyond knackered after 17 hours of sleepless travel, so did nothing except take a wander to the closest supermarket for sustenance. But hey, supermarkets in other countries are essentially tourist attractions in their own right, who doesn’t love seeing what shit you could pick up in your weekly groceries if you lived somewhere else? The timing worked out really well, as an early night and forcing ourselves to get up early meant we had no jet lag. Yay!

Lima - Plaza de Armas
Lima - Plaza de Armas 2

 Lima is…interesting. There was enjoyment to be taken from the gilt extravagance and under-floor crypt of the Cathedral, the pops of colour in the streets and I enjoyed staring out at the ocean when we got a rare glimpse of the sun. I also enjoyed the history of one of the Inca ‘pyramid’ tucked away amongst people’s homes though from a visual point of view, not exactly the most stimulating of the things the Incas built!

Lima Cathedral
Streets of Lima

From an adventuring point of view, there wasn’t much to do and the 3 days we were here felt way too long. Maybe I approached it wrong, but it just wasn’t what I wanted at that time. I’ll remember it as being the place we dived headfirst into Peruvian cuisine, discovering our love for ceviche and lomo saltado, but the rest of my memories are of exhaust fumes and car horns.

PARACAS

A (5 hour?) bus ride took us from Lima to Paracas, which was almost the polar opposite of the city we just left.

Paracas Beach Front
Paracas Boats
Paracas

Paracas is a tiny beach-front town, popular with native tourists and foreigners alike for one reason: Isla Ballestas. I’d read about it on a few travel blogs and it is described as the poor man’s galapagos. Not being able to afford the thousands of pounds it takes to go to Galapagos, I thought this was something we should definitely see.

Stillness in Paracas

Now there aren’t turtles or the white sands of Galapagos, but this trip cost around £7 to see the most birds I have ever seen. The rocks seemed like they alive, but they were just covered in thousands of birds. There were even some penguins! This is also a mating spot for sea lions but they were being relatively chilled during our visit, though there was a sea lion shouting match happening on the beach of their little cove.

Isla Ballestas
Isla Ballestas
Isla Ballestas
Isla Ballestas
Isla Ballestas

We also got to see the super impressive ‘Candelabra’ lines. This is a humongous carving on the side of one of the hills you pass on the way to the islands. There are theories of how and when it was done (aliens), but nobody really knows. It’s lasted so long due to what everyone in this part of Peru kept reminding us and we couldn’t grasp as a concept – “Remember, it never rains!” u wot m8?

The Candelabra - Paracas

Despite the place being tiny, I loved our stay in Paracas. Our hostel had hammocks, the sun was shining and I enjoyed chilling out drinking mojitos and drying my laundry. If we’d been travelling for a longer time, we definitely could have stayed another day just relaxing as it seemed a great, quiet place to unwind. Not being a week into our trip however meant we were lusting after adventure and not relaxation, so it was onwards to our next stop: Arequipa.

Kokopelli Hostel Paracas

Part 2 coming soon! 🙂