Peru – Day 4, Ballestas Island

Something a little different today. We went to Ballestas Island to see birds, sea lions and other aquatic life. There was so much activity I decided to do videos instead of photos. You will hear our guide speaking from time to time.

Later, I payed a visit to the hotel’s bar before leaving. They have a dedication to Ernest Hemingway. He came to an area in Northern Peru to fish for marlin.

It was a long drive back as it was holiday traffic so bumper to bumper. And there was an accident along the way. We did a stop for lunch then another for ice cream. We made it back to Peru but most of the restaurants were closed.

Back in Lima, I went to a local called Molly’s Irish bar.

This morning we boarded the boat to the island at the hotel’s dock – very convenient. Most of the tour boats leave from the town of Paracas. As we headed out we stopped at the Candelabra drawing. It is similar in construction to the Nazca lines. It is dug about 2 feet deep. There is so little wind or moisture on the peninsula the the drawing does not deteriorate. The exact age is not known but pottery in the area date back to 200 BCE

Photo by Alex Zanuccoli

On the way to the islands, we stopped to watch a huge flock of birds, diving into a school of fish.

The guano platform in the background. The one thing I can’t convey in this photo is the guano, sour, smell. And this is after they cleaned up 7 years worth of bird poop. The island was a big money maker during World War II as the nitrate in the guano was used in ammunitions.

There were about 8 or 10 species of birds. Our guide would point out what he could. I was looking for a blue footed booby as I thought they would be easy to spot but didn’t see any.

There were some Spanish speaking people on our tour so the tour guide spoke in both English and Spanish. I tried to get a shot of the spider crabs but we were not close enough.

People are not allowed on the island. Only those working and mining the guano when it is time. The ship comes up to the dock and the guano is unloaded into the hull.

A family of penguins were hanging out in the center of the guano.

As we came around the corner, we saw our first sea lions. They were chilling in this cave. The captain would not go too close because the pups would be protected by the mothers.

The boat was able to get close to the cliffs where the birds were perched. These were plovers.

On another perch was a mother sea lion on the top ledge protecting her baby who was telling her he’s hungry. Either that or she was telling him to move because she wanted that spot. The other one was on the ledge below, laying on their belly with the flipper hanging over the edge, enjoying the sun and ignoring the pup.

Finally, we get to the end which is Maternity Beach. It is the area where the sea lions give birth to the pups. They are raised her, taught to catch fish and how to escape predators. It was very noisy. The boats keep a fair distance away so as not to disturb the group.

As we left Paracas, the bus stopped at the town’s sign for a group photo. We all agreed that, between the hotel, town and boat tour, it was a very enjoyable time.

After we got back to the hotel, I made my way to the bar. It had an Ernest Hemmingway theme that I wanted to explore.

He wasn’t in this area. Hemmingway did his fishing in Northern Peru, near the border with Ecuador. I guess they had to come up with a bar theme and Hemmingway is a well known author. Also it was a small, cozy bar so easy to relax.

We headed back to Lima. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch. I had ordered causa chicken. It’s a chicken salad layered between mashed potatoes.

In the evening we were on our own for dinner. It was late so most of the restaurants were closed. The bus passed by the central square and our Peruvian guide suggested there would be places to eat there. I decided to go to Molly’s Irish Pub. There is a pub song called Irish pub which sings that wherever you go in the world there will be an Irish pub. I had an Irish red ale and a great chicken avocado sandwich. Later, Jim in my group asked where I had gone to eat. When I said Molly’s an Irish Pub, he just shook his head.