Friday, November 10, 2017

Ballestas Islands and Dune Buggies, Haucachina, Peru, November 10, 2017

We had an early start - 6 am because we had a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands at 10.  We were still half an hour late but there were 15 or so of us so it wasn't a problem.  

The Ballestas Islands are known as "The Poorman's Galapagos"-

 They are home to the endangered Humboldt penguin-

November is not sea lion breeding season but we did see a few-

There are 1 million birds - most are guanay cormorants.  The black is all birds-

Peruvian boobies-

And we had dolphins swimming alongside our boat on the way there-

There are some arches that have been cut into the granite-

In the afternoon we were in Huacachina which is an oasis in the middle of miles and miles of sand dunes.  It's where rich Peruvians used to come to get away from Lima.  It was misty all the way here and then voila, sun.  Today it's just a gringo town-

The big industry is dune buggy trips into the dunes.  There are 120 buggies in this small place and often they are all working, especially for the sunset tours-

Lots from our group went sand boarding.  I went down one small hill and that was enough.  It's just like tobogganing and the speed was a bit frightening for me.  A few people wiped out but weren't hurt.  The dunes are beautiful and our driver was a bit crazy.  Being in the buggy, which was made from a Suburban chassis and engine was like being on a ride at the fair-

Dune buggies are on top of the hill and people have either snowboarded, skied or tobogganed down-

More chicken farms-

Hugo Matern, the super nerd on the trip, was born in Germany but has lived the last 18 years in California, working in the bio tech industry.  He did his PhD at the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany and his post doctorate work in Stanford, Palo Alto, California.  He worked for numerous biotech companies including Genentech where he worked on protein secretion to understand the molecular basis of neuro transmit or realease of the synaptic cleft.... He's too smart for most of us!  After that he worked for many years in the field of protein engineering and antibody engineering to develop therapeutic antibodies that fight disease.  He recently retired and hopes to travel around the world the next 20 years.  He's on this trip to check out an average length overland trip to see if he's up for a longer one-

We're off to Nazca tomorrow to see the Nazca lines!

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