South America 2013 2 Paracas, Huachachina and onto Cusco

The road to Paracas

Ica-Paracas Day 5-9
I had done some research on Paracas and knew it was a nature reserve, I hadnt realised it was in the middle of a huge desert. This meant the landscapes were amazing on the coach down to Paracas (about 4-5 Hours) full of massive dunes and unbelievably shanty town like buildings dotted along the coast, nearer the coast were where Lima tourists go to get to the beach. The coach was amazing, like a plane with reclining chairs and AC, the driver however was a different story and as the road wasnt that busy and only 2 lanes he was constantly trying to overtake despite oncoming lorries etc, as we were at the front of the bus it was a bit unsettling. We got to Ica in one piece however, we hadnt really wanted to stay in Ica but unfortunately as it was the end of easter week all the hostels in Paracas, another beach resort, meant we had to stay in Ica, a grimy, notoriously dangerous city. Jonny was also sick so we just got to our hostel with massive gates and security watched Tv and waited it out until we got to Paracas the next day. Paracas is beautiful and our hostel is basic and pretty good value. The sea is freezing and the beach a bit grotty but the views are amazing, miles of desert and dunes and clear blue water, big old pelicans also.

First night in Paracas sunset on the beach

First night in Paracas sunset on the beach

We booked our ticket on board the ballestas islnd tour, the main attraction along with the desert reserve for 8am on our 6th morning and is the first real planned tourist thing we have done. The tour is good value at 40 soles, 4 soles to a pound, and really is fantastic. We see a huge ancient monolith on a hillside and then onto islands that are protected and are in habited by thousands of sea lions and hundreds of penguins, both of which are in mating season so are really entertaining, big male sea lions fithing and honking at each other.

Disregard the physical disfigurement of the animal in the bottom right.....he was born that way

Disregard the physical disfigurement of the animal in the bottom right…..he was born that way

Penguins

A cold current from the bottom of the ocean means the water is freeezing despite the air temp being 30 and up, the penguins look uncomfortable. However money is really getting tight at this point and as we are only a week in, is pretty disheartening and causes a bit of friction between me and Jonny. We have budgeted really hard but South america, and peru it seems specifically is much more expensive than we had thought, say compared to thailand. I have spent about $250 in a week and that amount really isn{t sustainable for me to be able to get anywhere near the 3 month total. I decide that drinking has used up %30 of funds so far and opt to not drink more than a beer a night until we get to cusco (tough in a desrt beach), I am fine with this but it does kind of end up dragging Jonny down to whatever I can afford. I am a bit guilty but he had said before we came out here that he would lend me money, this hasn{t really materialised other than paying for the hostel in Lima and a few other bits and pieces, but I hate begging for money and so swallow my pride and try and keep things as interesting as possible as cheaply as possible. We start cooking in the kitchen of the hostel which is fun, and an italian guy kills 5 crabs he bought down near the beach for 5 soles, I dont like seafood but it looks amazing. We lounge around in the sun for the next few days and try and trek to the paracas national park, about 3 km through the desert away. We get there but realise it is simply endless dunes so walk back along the beach which has really swish new houses and hotels and is like any great beach in the carribean or thailand, except for the thousands of dead Jellyfish.
Daily budget $15
Buses $60

Day 9-10 Paracas, Huachachina and onto Cusco
The bus from Paracas to cusco is a total of 23 hours and costs 185 soles, more than we had hoped around $60 but again was incredibly comfortable with touch screen displays and wifi. We have a layover in ica again and do what we should have done before which is go to huacachina, a desert oasis surrounded by bars with huge walls of sand dunes around. We regretably cannot stay here as we have booked our ticket to Cusco but have 6 hours to kill so wander around with a lawyer from London we{d met called Mike. Jonny and him went sandboarding, essentially throwing yourself down a massive sand dune on a surfboard as well as dune buggying, I sit out as I dont have the cash and happily wander around and have a look around a tiny library trying to learn Spanish. We run into a girl and a guy from Liverppol we{d drank with in Lima, a recurring theme as we have run into quite a few people along the same trail, nice to get advise if theyve been ahead etc. We talk with them for an hour or so and head back to ica to get our 20 hours bus to Cusco, relatively unsunbruned considering the hear.
Daily budget $20
Buses $80

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