Ica desert and Ballestas Islands – a treasure between land and sea

You need to escape to a completely different landscape?

Take the road to the Peruvian South and the city of ICA (at 300 km away by car from the city of Lima). The variety of landscapes is breathtaking…First you seem to be transported to the USA with an infinite road, XXL ads, giant trucks and the PACIFIC Ocean as background image. After having passed through the city of CHINCHA, you seem to get closer to AFRICA, a desert of dunes and stones stretching out without boundaries from both sides of the Pan-American Highway. The sun is getting higher and higher and the light is blinding yourself.

You may choose to find accommodation in one of the various beautiful hotels of ICA: you will then have the possibility to visit the Bodegas producing and selling the so famous Pisco and wine, and to go to the Ballestas Islands and then to discover the PARACAS national reserve.

Ballestas Islands – a wildlife paradise on the Peruvian Pacific coast

In order to go to the Ballestas Islands, you simply have to board at the little harbor named EL CHACO.

You can’t miss this visit: after half an hour on board, you will be impressed by the beauty of the place. Thousands or millions of birds are flitting above the PACIFIC Ocean in a deafening noise, the color of the red rocks clearly contrasting with the black and white of their feathers. Endemic birds, gannets, pelicans and Humboldt penguins try to move themselves clumsily on their promontory.

Birds flying over the Ballestas Islands in Paracas

Birds flying over the Ballestas Islands in Paracas

Birds fishing Ballestas Islands

The birds are getting close to the water to look for fish!

Group of birds and Humboldt penguins on the Ballestas Islands - Paracas

Group of birds and Humboldt penguins on the Ballestas Islands – Paracas

Sea lions are dancing around the small boats and huge sea elephants are basking in the sun, without caring of what is surrounding them. You could imagine yourself being in the Galapagos Islands! We are just fascinated by the show the Nature is offering us.

Sea lion basking in the sun - Ballestas Islands, Paracas

Sea lion basking in the sun – Ballestas Islands, Paracas

We already have to leave this magical place and pass in front of the PARACAS candelabrum which is about 180m long, 70m wide and 50cm deep: still a mystery until now! This candelabrum which has been here since 2000 years, though it is made of sand, never fades…

Paracas candelabrum

Paracas candelabrum that can be seen from the little boats leading to the Ballestas Islands

Paracas national reserve

We are back to land after 3 hours on the sea and our wonderful trip to the Ballestas Islands…Just enough time to have a Maracuja juice before boarding our combi with our local guide: the adventure goes on in the Paracas national reserve.

On the road on board our combi in the Ica desert, Paracas

On the road on board our combi in the Ica desert, Paracas

After a few kilometers, we are leaving the main road to enter a path at the desert doors.

Our first stop is the National Reserve Museum where we learn about the biodiversity of the place and its origin: the Paracas civilization is a pre-Columbian civilization which would have existed between 800 B.C. and 200 A.C., long before the INCA civilization.

We are moving on an imaginary and chaotic path. Entering the national reserve, the rocky hills leaving room, little by little, for a real desert.  We are losing any visual landmark: the sand dunes are coming one after the other, freed of all kind of civilization. There is only the Pacific breeze coming to our ears and warm colors exploding to our faces. The ground contains many rich ores giving the sand its pale pink, grey and ocher colors. This colors are blended with the white sand dunes, whose color is due to the salt left by the wind. The Pacific is very close and comes to embrace the dunes ending on the deserted beaches.

Impressive cliff in the Ica desert embracing the Pacific Ocean, Paracas

Impressive cliff in the Ica desert embracing the Pacific Ocean, Paracas

Playa roja ('red beach') in Paracas, whose color is due to the volcanic activity and the millennium eruptions beating the Pacific Ocean

Playa roja (‘red beach’) in Paracas, whose color is due to the volcanic activity and the millennium eruptions beating the Pacific Ocean

Everything here encourages to contemplation and meditation: you just need to sit at the edge of the path, leave your sight wander to the horizon to win over the light, listen to the silence and enjoy the immensity of this panorama. The desert strength will affect you deeply and you will feel so little!

A very deep and touching moment…

Beach in Paracas

The desert gives positive energy to everyone! Paracas National Reserve

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