Tag Archive: Paracas Peninsula




After expressing my concerns relating to bowel motions in yesterday’s post, one comment suggested prunes, that well known secret weapon used in hospitals around the world.

Prunes = Weapons of Mass Defecation

The good news is, that I didn’t need to resort to them. All is well and functioning normally.

The cold front arrived last night, rained for an hour at 12:30am, not hard but enough to make the night comfortable.

I can’t help but take issue with the dramatic swings in the global weather. Although typhoons in Asia are normal, that Philippines one was the worst ever recorded. I read yesterday, that the damage was exacerbated by the fact that coastal mangrove swamps that normally offer protection from typhoons had been cut down for firewood, leaving the populace defenceless.

Everything man does, has a backlash. We never learn. Those mangrove swamps were there for a purpose, a purpose designed by Mother Nature.

As the death toll rises above 5,ooo, and I feel sorry for those who died and others left homeless, it is the price paid for previous actions. Had the coastal mangrove swamps been left intact, the death toll and homeless may have been less.

I clicked on a tweeted  image this morning. It was of The Cathedral formation on the Paracas Peninsula in Peru, 260kms south of Lima. This beautiful coastal rock formation was probably the most photographed by tourists, apart from Machu Picchu scenes.

Standing on the high cliffs looking down was an awesome experience.

The Cathedral – image: Wild About Travel

Before seeing this tourists descend to the ‘back door’ and go inside the formation.


Along the beach to the ‘back door’ – image: AV

And are treated to the magnificence of the interior…

Inside The Cathedral - image: AV

Inside The Cathedral – image: AV

Here is an excerpt from a story that I wrote about Peruvian tourism:

We reached the far end of the second beach and the cliff opened, waves could be seen on yet a third beach.


Shoes and socks removed, trousers rolled up and we timed our entrance to match the tidal fluctuations, before stepping into the dark. Wrong… most of us still got wet, nature can be so unpredictable, we were wet to the crotch, women squealed and the men cursed as we stepped into the cave, it opened out to a huge natural cavern. Inside a small shingle beach covered in flotsam, waves crashing, their thunder magnified by the cavernous maw to echo in our ears.


This was “The Cathedral,” quite spectacular.


From the high entrance we were treated to the sunny view of the third beach and towering cliffs. The breakers pounding over a rocky shelf at the entrance to send up temendous fountains a of spray and massive clouds of mist hung in the air.


The swell of the tide gave us an insight into the immense power, that she is able to move such great quantities of water. The bloated carcase of a sealion rose and fell with her undulations like a great lifeless ballon. Bouncing off the rocks, being dragged away by the ebb only to be thrust again at nature’s whim cruelly against the rocks.


I was left wandering what would become of this hapless creature, this vision of nature’s uglier side as I picture, somewhat morbidly, the putrefying remains of the animal and the stench that would be offered to future tourists inside our cavern.


I shuddered at the thought and found myself at the entrance and followed the rest of the group into the bright, almost blinding sunlight after the dimness of the cavern. I left the morbid thoughts in the cathedral, trudged back along the beach, over the promontory, up the steep track to the cliff top, into the van and along the bumpy road.

So there you have it, the thoughts of a tourist guide.

I visited The Cathedral many times with tourists, so it is with a fondness that I remember it; until this morning.

I didn’t know, but the earthquake in the region destroyed towns like Chincha, Pisco and Playa El Chaco in 2007, it also destroyed The Cathedral.

Destroyed, the awesome cavern, gone - image: flickr

Destroyed, the awesome cavern, gone – image: flickr

No more will tourists be able to gaze in awe inside The Cathedral.

My fondness for this region comes not only from my work, but later I lived in Playa El Chaco and worked in Pisco.

Sadness determines that I say, Later.

Sunday Travel Tales

It’s the tail end of a hot busy day, so just a quick tale tonight


A small beach on the south side of the Paracas Peninsula.

Lagunilla Brach - image AV

Lagunilla Brach – image AV

Most tourist visit the area for the boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands, many then take the Paracas Tour visitng the musuem with the displays of the pre-Inca civilisations of the Cabeca Larga (big heads), off to scramble down the cliff and admire the large cave formation known as The Cathedral.

Then it’s off to Lagunilla for lunch. Beautiful blue water, beach know to have many sea urchins, so you must wear sandals even when swimming. For lunch you have a choice of four restaurants, each guide has his own preference.

The amazing thing is… there are no toilets, not one. You have to make do with what nature provides, because it’s a long trip back to Playa El Chaco or onward to Ica.

Sunday Travel Tales

Running late, so a quick one tonight.

Still in Playa El Chaco, this week one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen.

Taken from the beach in front of the fishermen’s houses, with their fishing boats and Paracas Peninsula in the background. The condition of the photo is not good, hopefully it will not detract from the beauty.

Baia de Paracas/Paracas Bay

Sunday Travel Tales

A small beach where I lived for several months in 2000/01 is the gateway for tourism to the Ballestas Islands about 17 miles off the coast of Peru. The islands are a story on their own, but this is about the beach.

Playa El Chaco was divided in two, on the left you had restaurants and some places to stay, on the right were the families of the fishermen. The dividing line was the floating wharf that served for tourist departures and fishing boats.

The floating wharf and ever present pelicans. The end of the dock rose and fell with the tides.


The monument high on the dunes – image credit AV


Playa El Chaco has a history, right in front of where I lived (the centre of this photo) was where Simon Bolivar landed to liberate Peru. There is a large monument on the dunes behind the village.

The village was very rustic, many of the houses had no roofs; they were not necessary as it never rained. The only adverse weather the region experienced were the Paracas Winds that swept across the Paracas Peninsula and over the harbour in August and September.

The beach was the playground for the kids, they’d chase and tease the pelicans with fish and swim amongst the fishing boats.

The families all worked, the men fishing, the women making and selling artifacts that represented the islands, all manner of sea lions craft from sea shells, and the kids would wend their way through the throngs of tourist and around the restaurants hopeful of making a sale, or better still enticing a tourist to the stall area on the village side of the wharf.

It was near these stall that my local bar was located. Made of bamboo it was a focal point for the locals.

Juan Luis perched in front of the bar, the artisans’ stalls can be seen in the background – image credit AV

Even five year old Juan had to work selling for his mother.

Playa El Chaco was an interesting interlude in my travels. In the morning I would get a collectivo taxi to Pisco, 21kms to the north, and work with a tourist agency. I did some planning work for them, reworked their advertising propaganda, and many times was required to accompany groups of tourists to the islands as a guide.

The afternoons were free. A leisurely cerviche lunch, with beer, a nap and a walk along the beach reflecting on life.

Sunday Travel Tales


South of Lima, about 240kms is Pisco

A further 21km along the coast past the Peruvian Air Force Base with it’s B-25 Mitchell Bomber on a plinth at the gate.

I used to have a photo of that, but it is long gone. I have just spent an hour searching on the net and I can’t believe that that with 7 billion people on the planet and no one, nobody has ever taken a photo of this monument and posted it on the net… unbelieveable.

Further on down the coast past San Andres fishing wharf.

Muelle, San Andres


Kids take possession of the fishing boats as a playground


On past the fish meal factories and their interminable stench…

Fish meal and fish oil are major exports for Peru

Until you come to the fork in the road, veer right and pass the church, standing alone among the dunes. On the left, high amongst the dunes over looking the small fishing village of Playa El Chaco is the monument to Simon Bolivar. Playa El Chaco was where he landed to liberate Peru.

Playa El Chaco is famous for tourism. It is the departure point for tourists to embark on their two-hour tours around the Ballestas Islands 17 nautical miles off the coast.

Basically, that’s what tourists come here for, that and the starting point for an afternoon exploring the Paracas Peninsula.

The programme for most backpackers consists of staying in Pisco overnight; some groups come on down to the Paracas Hotel in the evening for Happy Hour pisco sours and return to Pisco for dinner.

After breakfast they return to El Chaco (there is not enough accommodation in El Chaco to hold so many tourists). An 8am or 10am Ballestas tour (tours are not done in the afternoon because the sea is too rough). Then off to the peninsula, with lunch at Langunilla (four restaurants, no toilets and a lovely beach where you must wear sandles to avoid the sea urchins).

Then they’re off, off to Ica and the oasis at Huacachina, then Nazca… but that’s another story.

The Ballestas Islands


Sunset over the Paracas Peninsula silhouetting the fishing boats

Credit: 4 photos are mine, the kids on the boat and the last three. Once again, I apologise for the quality of the photos, but time and traveling have ravaged them.

NB: I lived in El Chaco for six months on 2000, working for a travel agency in Pisco, and ocassionally doing the tour guide bit on the boats.

Ballestas Is and the Peninsula will be another post.

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