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davidx Ballestas islands - A travel report by David
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Ballestas islands,  Peru - flag Peru -  Ica
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davidx's travel reports

Peru’s coast from Lima to Puerto Inca

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It’s a long way from Lima to Puerto Inca. This report deals with Lima itself, the wonderful Ballestas Islands, the Paracas National Park and Puerto Inca. Why base it on the Ballestas Islands rather than Lima? Simple - they’re so unforgettable.

Plaza de Armas - a typical Sunday
Plaza de Armas - a typical Sunday
Doesn’t Lima deserve one on its own? Two answers. It has some already – and not really. I enjoyed the day’s tour of Lima that was included in our trip far more than expected but after that I was more than ready to leave. Far younger members of our party were impressed with the low cost of good clubs but that isn’t something for me. I should like to see the archaeological museum again – without either a guide or excruciating hunger. The rooms devoted to different times and peoples could occupy a lot of time. However, much of the reaction to these things is very personal and by the end of our visit I felt I had seen enough of mummy bundles and skulls to last a bit. The peoples concerned had obviously taken considerable trouble to dispose of their dead and it seems strange to have so many intimate remains open to gawping. The Plaza de Armas and its immediate surroundings would stand numerous visits as well. In many ways this really FEELS like the heart of Peru and the Archbishop’s Palace next to the cathedral is a particularly striking edifice. Again the catacombs and museum at a nearby convent are most interesting, though again human skulls get a bit much at times. The drive from the airport to the hotel through fairly prosperous parts of the city is pretty depressing and the regions covered in the drive south along the coast are worse but even these aren’t the terrible slums of Lima, the shanty towns where the advice is clear – don’t go unless you definitely have to. In the desert areas a bit inland from the coast are numerous shacks made of horribly flimsy materials made by people who have fled the Lima slums. These say only too clearly how terrible life in those slums must have been. On the other hand, the suburbs of Miraflores and especially Barranco are quite striking. However I shouldn,t add Lima to my list of recommended cities for city breaks even if it were a lot nearer.

Favourite spots:
The Ballestas Islands are sometimes called the ‘Poor man’s Galapagos’ but poverty was not one of the thoughts that occurred to me as we hurtled in a speedboat from Paracas, the first time in 68 years I’ve been in one. There were pelicans inshore as we left and dolphin leaping just outside the port and we soon reached the historic tryptich on the mainland on the way to th coast known, for obvious reasons as the Candelabra. The islands would be worth seeing for their geological splendour alone, lovely sea stacks and arches, but the guano trade has made them interesting as well – and as for the wildlife, it’s spell-binding. Sealions, rare Humboldt Penguins, one-eyed cormorants, Inca terns and boobies abound. The port of Paracas seems fairly recently constructed and might be thought of as a tourist trap, except that the cutthroat competition between quite good restaurants, shops and market stalls keeps the prices low. We ate delicious ceviche for the first time. [See Restaurants]]

What's really great:
The 'Cathedral', Paracas
The 'Cathedral', Paracas
Puerto Inca is located much further south in a delightful bay. There are good beaches and I imagine the surfing must be good all along that part of the Pacific coast. What is more special about Puerto Inca, however, are the fairly extensive ruins immediately on the southern side of the Hotel Puerto Inca. According to the guide books these are usually thought to remain from the main port of the Incas. However our tour leader doesn’t accept that and I think with good reason. Surely the route from their main port to their capital, Cusco, would have had protecting forts – there are none found. Surely again the remains would resemble to a considerable extent the major Inca remains in the Cusca area. In fact the shape of the stones and their jointure seem more primitive. I guess these remains possibly date back to well before the Inca period. Anyway, a walk before breakfast along the coast through the remains is a fine experience.

Explained in text
Explained in text
The Paracas National Park, south of the port, consists largely of a desert area with cliffs falling mainly to a narrow area of beach beside the Pacific. In one place is what is signed as ‘The Cathedral’, a piece of spectacular and wholly natural cliff ‘architecture’.
What I am observing in Pam’s photo is Not a dog kennel. I’m afraid it’s a shrine, prolific features here and beside the road and each of them representing the site of a fatal accident.

The first night from Lima we slept inland at Nazca and I’ll cover that in another report. The second night we stayed at the Hotel Puerto Inca where the bedrooms are scattered round in chalet-like blocks of one or two rooms at different levels. The meal we had was served by the hotel staff but had been prepared by our tour leader and his assistant and mighty fine it was.
Almost adjacent to the eating area is space for a bonfire and we enjoyed a large one, burning olive wood that we had picked up about twenty minutes before reaching P.I.
The only downside was the self-generated electricity supply that was turned off at night and went off for brief periods at other times. That’s a small price to pay for the lovely situation but, if you go, do keep a torch handy.

Look carefully at the bottom, Lima
Look carefully at the bottom, Lima
I mentioned the restaurants at Paracas. I’m not sure I ever knew the name of the one where we ate but choice is a pretty arbitrary matter there anyway. Our group was well split among different places and nobody was complaining.
I mentioned ceviche and this is worth a description for those who don’t know it. It consists of uncooked fish or shellfish [we had a mixed one] marinated in Peruvian lemons [small ones like a cross between lemons and limes] and accompanied by chillies and salad.
The effect in raising the energy level is almost certainly psychological – but who cares?

Published on Tuesday October 18th, 2005

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Fri, Oct 21 2005 - 11:38 AM rating by mistybleu

Hey David,

This is a lovely report, it's a good read

Wed, Oct 19 2005 - 04:50 PM rating by miguelmarchi

caramba, que buena cronica!
Yo tambien estuve en las Galapagos de los pobres.
Vos escribis muy chevere.
Miguel (el Uruguayo)

Tue, Oct 18 2005 - 05:18 PM rating by eirekay

David, what a wonderful journey! It looks so natural! I would have loved to be alongside the dolphin!

Tue, Oct 18 2005 - 03:03 PM rating by gloriajames

Hiya David!
A well written report! Cant wait to read the rest of your adventure.

Tue, Oct 18 2005 - 12:08 PM rating by jesusferro

I would like to write my first report about Buenos Aires as yours.

Tue, Oct 18 2005 - 09:43 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Muy bueno!!!
I look forward with anxiety to read your next report about the Nasca lines!

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