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And the rest of Ica...

...to make up for the city itself!

sunny 25 °C
View Latin American Tour on alexis.johnson's travel map.

Right then, let’s catch up!

To be honest, I wanted to title the last entry “Ica...it’s Icky,” but thought that might be insulting. Whatever. It’s honest, and that’s what I am.

Ica itself didn’t have much to offer. Our hostel was...well, I already explained in our last entry. We hadn’t booked anything in advance, so resorted to walking around with all of our kit popping into hostels and hotels as we came across them. We checked out the price of one other, but it was over three times our budget for accommodation.

That’s how we ended up in El Dorado Hostal. It was S./60 for the night rather than S./100...and while I grew to like and respect the receptionist, I had a feeling she pulled that number out of her bumbum because we were foreign tourists.

Ah well, we live and learn.

We did book a half-day trip to Las Islas Ballestas which was IMMENSE! It only cost S./50 per person for the transportation (about an hour, tops) then we paid S./5 per person for entrance...and another obligatory S./1 for a life jacket.

It was a little intimidating at first as our driver and the other tourists spoke only Spanish, but we were lucky enough to have a guide on our boat that spoke clear English, and we’d somehow been seated right at the front where he was speaking.


Straight away the boat stopped as el capitan had spotted some dolphins (!!!). We rode on for about 20 minutes before we saw el candelabro appear in front of us on the side of an island. It wasn’t as obvious as we thought it’d be, but still super good. Apparently no one knows what it’s for (similar to the Nazca Lines), but some reckon it was made by pirates to help with navigation. This was my favourite explanation.


Another 20 minutes brought us to the actual Islas Ballestas where there were a shit tonne of birds. It was absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen so many birds all in one place. There were a couple species of penguins (in their natural habitat, what?!), a whole island covered in a type of cormorant, gulls, huge pelicans, Peruvian boobies, and obviously, a load of bird shit.

This was pretty exciting actually, as I’d learned about the Guano Wars in a Latin American history course at uni. And here it was. All this bird shit that started a war!


You could smell it. No word of a lie.

We also got to see lots of sea lions! One highlight was a sea lion trying to get onto a rock and failing. He kept leaping into the air and splashing right next to the rock. Okay, it sounds boring...but it was funny. Furrealz.


I’m a bit gutted we didn’t get there a couple weeks later as we’d see lots of baby sea lions on a beach that was pointed out. It was totally empty, but they said in a few weeks it’d be packed with females giving birth and males fighting over space and the ladies.

And finally, we saw some fishermen that were diving off a little boat dressed in scuba gear. The most interesting thing about this was that their boat HAD MY NAME ON IT. It’s like they knew.

It also had some dude’s name on..like Juan or something. I reckon it was probably a sign that I shouldn’t have married Warren and instead found a handsome Latin American man whilst travelling.


I disagree with fate, though. I mean, look at how handsome he is?!


At any rate, after we got back to Icky Ica we decided to get the heck out of there for the afternoon, and got a taxi to Huacachina for the afternoon. The guide book recommended backpackers stay here instead of Ica (as there was sweet eff ay to do there), but we foolishly didn’t heed their advice.

Huacachina was really lovely. It’s an oasis (now artificially pumped with water) in the middle of massive sand dunes. There’s loads of hippy-like vendors and backpackers roaming around, families and children having a play in the water, paddleboats, proper little row boats, sand boarding, dune buggy rides, and lots of shops and trendy hostels.


Go to Huacachina, people. Forget about the bus terminal in Ica – it’s worth paying the taxi fare to/from Huacachina rather than staying near the terminal.

After chilling out around the water for a bit, we decided to treat ourselves to a drink. Warren got a little coffee, but as it was fricking one million degrees, I opted for a refreshing jugo de papaya. The waiter delivered it to my table, and I very smugly stated, “I made the right choice.” Warren’s coffee looked like swamp water and he didn’t have near enough milk to hand to make that bad boy palatable.

Lo and behold, I had one sip of my beautiful, ice cold, sunrise-in-a-glass, and my face (and stomach) were turned upside down. “I didn’t make the right choice.”

Papaya juice tastes like puke.

Sincerely. I felt like I had a tall glass of orange bile in front of me. I couldn’t even smell it after that. Woz generously offered to help me get rid of it, so we were chugging it down without breathing and chasing it with water.


Warren thought it was hilarious after my snotty little comment about making the right choice.


Well, that was the only disappointment in Huacachina. Overall, a really nice day in the Ica region (outside of Ica itself).

We returned to Ica, caught an overnight bus to Arequipa (first class – it was amazing), and arrived here to Arequipa at around 7 in the morning.

Posted by alexis.johnson 15:57 Archived in Peru Tagged birds oasis huacachina ica islas_ballestas

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I mean, that picture of Warren might as well be Tim.

by Kate

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