July 6, 2020
We had a three week adventure planned for mid June of this year, 2020, that included travels in Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and Switzerland. We were going to stay through the summer solstice and return around the 4th of July. Needless to say the trip was cancelled due to the Corona virus pandemic. Instead, we spent this year’s summer solstice hiking the Bear Creek Trail in Briones Regional Park (see previous post below). Since the solstices are important “holidays” for us I thought it would be fun to revisit what we did on the summer solstice last year, in 2019.
On June 19, 2019 we arrived in Lima Peru around midnight. We had flown from San Francisco to Atlanta to Lima to begin our adventure of chasing the total solar eclipse of 2019. We had a day to walk around Lima before heading south to Paracas Bay on the solstice, June 21, 2019.
It is the dead of winter in Peru in June. In fact, June 21 is the winter solstice in South America. It was strange to pack our winter expedition gear in sunny California just before our summer solstice knowing we would soon experience the winter solstice in Peru and Chile.
Travel Quest Tours International organizes total solar eclipse expeditions and astronony adventures. We joined the southbound eclipse group and were looking forward to experiencing totality on July 2 in Chile. The expedition was highly organized. The eclipse team included a trip manager, 3 trip leaders, a trip astronomer, an eclipse astronomer, an eclipse meteorologist, and a physician. We felt like we were ready for just about anything the cosmos might throw at us.
Rob Hawley, a fellow eclipse chaser, is a serious amature astronomer and astrophotographer. You can find out more about him by visiting his website here. Cesar Higueras is one of our trip leaders. You can find out more about Travel Quest International and their eclipse tours here.
The next day, June 21, was the winter solstice — aka our summer solstice back in California. We boarded a bus and headed south, out of Lima, towards Paracas Bay. It was a long bus ride, but before going to our hotel there we all took a dune buggy ride in a caravan to watch the sunset. We watched the closing of the shortest day of the year in Peru as the sun set over the sand dunes of Paracas National Reserve. It is very dry in this area of Peru and it rarely rains. Travel Quest set up an oasis with refreshments for us in the heart of this desert.
We climbed into our dune buggy for and exciting ride. On the top of the last dune overlooking the tents of the oasis our dune buggy threw a rod and the engine stopped dead. You can hear the engine start to sound a little funny in the video. We only had a short walk down the dune to rejoin our companions.
We have afternoon snacks and a Peruvian drink called Pisco Sour in our desert camp. Some travelers try “dune boarding” down the steep sand dunes on snowboards. It’s a lot of fun.
Everybody relaxes from the long bus ride and enjoys watching the sunset.
We hitch a ride back to the waiting bus on another dune buggy. It has been a long and exciting day. But, in fact, it has been the shortest day of the year in Peru. It has been a happy winter/summer solstice for us.