We left the dunes of Huacachina and hit the beach, specifically, Paracas, which is where Limeños (folks from Lima) go for a beach vacation. We were at the beach but still in a desert, which just seemed off – water on one side and then endless sand on the other. We stayed at Villa Kite, a beachside B&B owned by Jorge, who was an excellent host, spoke perfect English, and is the guy who brought kitesurfing to Peru. Villa Kite provided us great views and daily walks as it was about 2 miles from the main drag in Paracas.
The walk was great – we went past beautiful multimillion dollar homes, saw tons of birds and enjoyed the ocean. But then, as if to remind us that we are not in the US, was the stench. We noticed it the first night when we stopped to have a drink at the swanky Paracas Hotel. Despite the gorgeous surroundings, we gagged on the putrid odor. We later asked Jorge and he confirmed that the town has grown too quickly and the sewer infrastructure isn’t up to par. Wow, in the US you would not have multimillion dollar homes or $350 a night hotel rooms in an area that smells so vile. Thankfully, Villa Kite was far enough from town and set back from the beach so that only once did we get a whiff of the sewage. The other downside of the beach was the stingrays and jellyfish. The stingrays are always present, but a jellyfish bloom had occurred about 2 weeks prior to our visit so the ocean was teeming with them and when the tide went out hundreds would wash up on the beach and die. No swimming for us on this beach vacation!
Paracas is what I imagine Door County, WI, was about 30 years ago. The boardwalk is small and dotted with tsotchke stands and mediocre restaurants. It was quaint in a rustic, Peruvian way and 5 days was enough time to sightsee and relax.
Matt set off in Jorge’s kayak one morning. He had such a great time (once he got over the fear of tipping over into the jellyfish) that a couple of days later we rented kayaks. How incredible! We paddled across the bay and along the shoreline of the Paracas reserve. The colors were just amazing – bright blue water, even brighter blue sky and glowing yellow sand. The highlight was the flamboyance of flamingos that we saw. (As an aside, isn’t the word “flamboyance” just perfect to describe a group of these flashy birds? Kudos to whoever came up with that one.) There were probably 50 Chilean Flamingos, including gray babies. Their pink plumage was so vibrant, much more than that of flamingos at the Milwaukee County Zoo. We saw many other birds, and kept our eyes open for dolphins, but we didn’t spot any. (No dry bags = no pictures 😦 )
Next : Ballesta Islands, Paracas National Preserve and the Incan Ruins of Tomba Colorado