Where the desert meets the ocean

There is a lot of desert in Peru of every type, from dry rocky moon-like landscapes to golden rolling dunes and bright yellow stone that goes right up to the ocean. The desert city of Ica is a popular stopping off point as it’s close to the oasis of Huacachina; a small resort surrounding by massive sand dunes. It’s immensely impressive. After that we continued on to Paracas for a visit to the biodiverse Islas Ballestas and a bike trip around the National Preserve. Oh and then I found a human foot…

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A sand dune in the city of Ica
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Everyone who visits Huacachina must make time for dune buggies and…
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…sandboarding. Those dunes are pretty high and you can pick some amount of speed, it’s incredible fun
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The dunes are amazing and stretch on for as far as can be seen. Unfortunately it was such a short stop in Huacachina then it was time to travel on
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The next stop on the tourist trail is Paracas, a small fishing village surrounding by rocky lifeless desert

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Islas Ballestas in the distance. Nobody is allowed onto the islands but tourists can take a boat trip in and around.
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A seal taking a nap, there were so many lazing on the rocks
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Birds. So many birds. The dark area on the island above is birds, just birds
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So many birds

 

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Austere beauty in the Paracas National Preserve. The landscape is impressive for being so devoid of absolutely anything
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While I found it enticing in so many ways, the landscape and area felt really desolate. It was a strange and bizarre place
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Strange and bizarre but beautiful. I loved the contrast of colours
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This is Playa Roja (Red Beach) which added a very striking new colour to the landscape
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We were lucky enough to see a couple of flamingos at not such a great distance

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More birds!
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Pelicans are huge birds that rival flamingos for weirdness. I must say that I prefer the pelicans

 

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After having lunch just 2 metres from a whole host of pelicans we continued to this beautiful beach, Playa de la Mina. It was almost deserted. The water was very cold but fantastically refreshing

 

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While cycling along after the leisurely swim at the beach I spotted this strange thing out of the corner of my eye. I doubled back to get a closer look
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We tried to figure out what it was, perhaps a seal lion or seal foot (we had already seen two carcasses), they are mammals after all and have hands and feet with five digits just like us albeit covered to aid in swimming. A quick google search of seal skeletons revealed that it in no way resembles this, while one for a human foot does…I have no idea where this came from but I’d like to think it had been buried in the desert for a long time. It’s such an arid place that things can be preserved for an extremely long time. Is this perhaps an ancient foot, dragged out of a burial site by a dog maybe? A bizarre, cryptic and slightly unsettling end to a day out.
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I sent an email later on to the park rangers office detailing what I’d found and a GPS location in case it would be of some archaeological interest but I got no reply. I’m sure someone else found it later as it was clearly visible on the track by now. I wonder what they did…took it as a grisly souvenir?

 

Up next: Cordillera Blanca

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