To be completely honest, I don’t consider myself adventurous; in fact, I usually prefer a restful day on the couch enjoying a good book or a movie to a day at the waterpark. Luckily, I fit in: most of this year’s Maymester’s participants were not particularly adventurous either, but we looked forward as always to an eventful weekend scheduled by Professor Falconi. He certainly scheduled an exciting (and frankly rather ambitious) weekend for us.
The weekend began with a drive over from Lima to Lunahuaná for the river rafting (canotaje en Español). Going barefoot in the inflatable raft was the move, as we were constantly soaked by the river’s cold waters. It was an exhilarating experience; the guides made sure that we were safe on the raft, but also ensured that we had a great time riding the river’s rapids.
Following the river rafting, we went to a beach called “El Raspón” in Paracas, a small town off of the Pacific. We arrived a little on the late side (the drive over took an hour longer than expected), so it was a little too late to swim, although this didn’t stop our TA Berna from giving it a go. We promptly set up camp on the beach to grill and enjoyed a wonderful sunset on the beach with great food.
Sunday was by far the most adventurous (and exhausting) day of our Maymester. In the morning, we got up early to take a boat from Paracas to Islas Ballestas. I’m not sure what everyone expected, but for me I expected to see sparse wildlife living on the islands; what we saw surpassed all our expectations. Thousands of birds inhabited these rocky islands, located about 20-30 minutes by sea from Paracas. There even were a few penguins who were enjoying the warmer weather, as well as some seals inhabiting the region.
We then drove over to Ica, home of the famous Huacachina oasis and the massive sand dunes that mark the beginning of the Ica desert. Having lunch at the oasis was certainly scenic and relaxing but it did not prepare us for the thrill of the sand dunes.
The vehicle that we rode in we open faced, minus a small roof that protected us from the sun. Our driver raced up and down the hills, with little regard for minor bumps along the way. The result was a rollercoaster-like experience and it was absolutely thrilling, particularly when we raced down the hills.
None of us had previously sand boarded before and it also proved to be a memorable experience. Our guide made sure we mastered our riding techniques on smaller sized hills before introducing us to the large ones. I can say with no regret that I crashed out on the largest of the hills. Profe even made the journey down, proving to us all that yes, he’s still got it.
For the record, in Ica I highly recommend wearing long sleeves, both shirt and pants. (It saves you from getting sand in all of the wrong places). Also, sunglasses are needed in order to see when we are racing through the sand dunes in the vehicle.
All in all, the final weekend was an absolute adventure. It still baffles me how we fit so much into the weekend, considering we still had to drive 5 hours from Ica to Lima the last night. Profe did a wonderful job this entire trip exposing us to different experiences and essentially hit most of the touristic bucket list for us as tourists visiting Peru for the first time.