I knew very little about Peru when I arrived in Lima airport. I had spent so long researching and planning my time in Argentina and Antarctica that Peru had kind of become an afterthought. I had no idea what to expect, and honestly, I wasn’t expecting much.
I don’t know why, but for some reason, I just had the feeling that I wouldn’t be quite able to fall in love with Peru.
In the end, I ended up being both right and wrong about this.
While Peru may not have become one of those places that I talk about often and speak about with nothing but nostalgia, it did exceed many of my expectations, and I had a lot more fun than I had anticipated.
I am not usually one to take tours, but I only had a short time in Peru, so when I came across the Peru Hop company – which allows you to hop on and off in certain towns and cities across Peru – it seemed like an affordable and incredibly simple way to travel, so without much hesitation, I booked!
Amazingly, I think it really was my time with Peru Hop that made my last stops in South America so memorable.
After getting picked up from my hostel in Lima, we were off towards the little town of Paracas. We made several other stops along the way that I wasn’t particularly excited by, but it was during this time that I started making new friends, so by the time I actually got to Paracas, we were all pretty keen to go and get beach beers together – which is kinda perfect.
The next morning, we were off on our first ‘proper’ stop – a boat tour of the nearby Isla Ballestas. This small collection of islands are well known for being a sanctuary for many species of animal – including Humboldt Penguins and a couple of breeds of seal.
I’m not an avid birdwatcher by any stretch of the imagination, but it really was fascinating to see such a huge number of birds congregating in such a small space.
Apparently, this area is often referred to as ‘mini Galapagos’ and it isn’t hard to see why!
In addition to the huge abundance of wildlife, there are also some pretty stunning rock arches and formations to be seen around the place.
I am much more of an ocean enthusiast than a sky enthusiast, so as beautiful as the birds were, it was the seals that were really holding my interest.
How cute is this teeny tiny baby seal pup?!
I was initially a little worried about this one (he looked a little, well, dead) but he barked at us when we got too close. I think he just favours a very strange sleeping position!
The boat tour lasted around two hours, which was kinda perfect. It was enough time to see everything, but not so long as to get dull or keep us in the sun for too long.
After all of us Peru Hoppers had regrouped after our boat trip, it was time to head to the Paracas National Park to check out some truly stunning bits of coastline. I hadn’t really expected to see any beaches in Peru, and when I found out that we’d be visiting some, I had absolutely no idea that they’d be this damn pretty!
I just could not get over the incredible contrast between the deep greens and blues of the water and the rich orange colours of the sand.
I also really loved how when you turned your back to the coastline, it almost appeared as if you were in the middle of a desert, not right next to a beach!
By this point on the trip, I had already made a few really lovely friends.
First, there was the fricking hilarious brother duo from Canada, who can be seen in the next picture.
Also, there was this hilarious couple who got an unbelievable amount of use out of their selfie stick!
We ended our time at Paracas on a high and ready to explore our next Peruvian destination – Huacachina.
Getting to Peru: Peru is well connected to North and South America through Lima airport
Peru Hop: A hop-on hop-off type of transport with an element of group tour built in, I bought the ‘Get to Cusco Quick’ pass for $159 which you can find more information about by clicking here
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lens
Remember: Sometimes having no expectations about a place can lead to wonderful surprises