Paracas is the town and Gen. San Martín is a port, sort of, about 30 minutes away around the bay. General San Martín, by the way, was one of the liberators of Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia from the Spanish. The other was Simón Bolivar, who we all know about but I don’t remember any mention of San Martín in our history books.
Peru west of the Andes is desert. The Humboldt Current from the south keeps the water cold until it collides with el Ninó from the north, which seems to drive the moisture up into the Andes. This region has about an hour of rain in a year, totaling maybe 1.2 mm (that’s milli- not centi-liters.) There are several rivers that flow year round from the Andes and an aquifer about 75 meters down.
The reason our cruise ship stopped here, and not many do, was for the Ballestas Islands, which have been described as mini-Galapagos. It was about 30 minutes in a small, open boat from Paracas, and a bit of an adventure getting on and off. We paused a couple times in route. Once to watch anchovy fishing, which attracted a lot of sea lions, pelicans, and Peruvian terns, in addition to tourists. And once at Las Candelabras, which I guess is a giant petroglyph on the side of a mountain that looks like a candelabra but is probably a cactus, cross-bow, or multi-headed alien from somewhere else in the galaxy. They have no way of dating it as yet but long before the Spanish arrived.
The island is a wildlife preserve and is everything they advertised, including a strong aroma of ammonia. It has been a major source of guano for centuries. It is now harvested every six or seven years when it is about a meter thick and yields about 50 tons.
If you can find them, this picture has pelicans, Peruvian terns, Inca terns, gray-footed boobies, and Humboldt penguins among others. I won’t explain the whitish rock further. It is estimated that there is a bird population of close to one million on the various rocks called islands. Below are some penguins, which blend nicely into the rocks, particularly when young.
It is also an important breeding ground for sea lions and some fur seals. There were several “maternity” beaches, which were very noisy from pups looking for mom and large males defending their territory and trying to control their harems. The bull on the beach by himself is probably in charge.
[I have been able to move pictures from my camera/mobile to my laptop but I can’t get them into the blog as jpegs, pdf, or any other format known to me. Maybe when we get to New Zealand, we will have actual WiFi (even though we are paying about $6 a day to have it on board.) Here is a link that has pictures as good as mine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islas_Ballestas ]