After our first stop in Lima, our South American adventure began with an early morning pick up to board our Peru Hop bus. Peru Hop operate a type of tourist bus that gives you the comfort of a group tour but with the flexibility of independent travel, allowing you to hop on and off as you please. This bus was to be our main means of travel through Peru to Bolivia.
Boarding the bus we felt very much like the new kids in school, but we soon got to know some great people and swap our travel experiences/disasters to date.
Our first stop was to a mansion in Chincha. Whereas the grounds were beautiful and idyllic with swings and hammocks adorning the grounds, they held a dark secret underground.
The house has secret slave tunnels running for 28km to the coast, which were used to smuggle slaves from West Africa. As this took place during the slavery movement you may wonder why the secrecy was necessary…to avoid taxes of course!
As a group we were allowed to enter the narrow, dusty and dark conditions of the tunnels and have a glimpse of what it must have been like for the slaves to have made this their homes. After only 10 minutes we were all struggling to draw breath from the high dust concentration, it’s harrowing to imagine the conditions that the poor inhabitants must have had to suffer during their captivity.
After the first humbling stop, we continued on the bus to reach the small fishing town of Paracas, home to the Natural Reserve and Ballestas Islands.
The Islands are teeming with wildlife and after a visit you can understand why they are referred to as the ‘poor man’s Gallapogas’. Among other things we were fortunate enough to see sea lions having a rest with their babies on rocks, land and even the stern of a ship!
We witnessed birds swarming the land and sky as far as the eye could see, and with that many birds overhead there were bound to be some accidents…yes we were bird poop casualties.
Our last stop of the day took us to the Natural Reserve, a huge expanse of desert land that meets the crashing waves of the south pacific. The sandy dunes have an array of minerals which give subtle red tones that contrast the mustard yellow cliffs, quite a natural beauty to behold.
We ended our day to Paracas suitably amazed, exhausted and with plenty of sand in our boots. It’s safe to say we were excited to see what else Peru had to offer.