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London, England, United Kingdom
March 18, 2010
From journal Peru Part 1
New York, NY, New York
June 3, 2004
We used the Amigos agency, located on a second floor next to the BWS bank. They charged US$10/35 soles per person for the Islas Ballestas tour, and $8 for the Paracas tour (plus the S/. 5 entrance fee to the park). You could also combine the two (recommended) for a total price of $15 plus the entrance fee. We only went on the first tour, since we were short on time. However, I would recommend taking the full circuit since it doesn't cost much more and is said to be quite impressive. The tour started at 7:15am, and we were picked up from the hotel.
The guide (Manuel) supposedly spoke eight languages, which I found rather hard to believe, but he was certainly able to communicate well in Spanish, English and Hebrew, the last two being the main languages spoken by tourists. He also knew the names of the animals in a variety of languages, including German and Italian. He gave a good description of the islands and was very responsive to questions in all languages. He also offered to take some of the Israeli kids to "the best seafood restaurant in Pisco" after the trip. The tour lasted about two hours.
The islands themselves are lovely. They are the principal spot for guano extraction in Peru, which fueled much of the country’s expansion in the mid-1800s. As a result, the wildlife has been well protected and left undisturbed, except for the guano extraction every ten years. You can watch large populations of seals frolicking and playing on the islands, as well as huge groups of birds, mostly cormorants. In addition, you can see the Candelabro (Candelabra), a huge carving in the rock cliff with all sorts of mysterious stories behind it.
In all, the tour is a requirement for anyone stopping in Pisco.
From journal Seals, guano, and astronauts: A weekend in Ica, Peru