A Ballestas Islands visit is a popular Peru tour option that explores the wildlife along the coast south of Lima. Normally passengers will be spending overnight in Ica and are driven 45 minutes to the port at Paracas where they embark on their Ballestas Islands tour. Also known locally as the “Little Galapagos”, the hilly, desert coast of Paracas and the Ballestas Islands boast a wide variety of air and sea wildlife, with over 100 species of birds including penguins, as well as sea lions, turtles, dolphins, whales and sharks. You might even see a condor as these huge birds sometimes swoop down for the mountains when food sources are scarce there! The islands themselves have been eroded into a myriad of arches and caves which provide shelter for these thousands of seabirds and sea-lions.
Include a Ballestas visit on your Peru tour
The bird and sea-life is extremely prolific thanks to the cold Humboldt current meeting with warm equatorial currents. This stirs up abundant nutrients from the seafloor which feeds millions of anchovies which in turn feed the sea-lions, birds and other wildlife. So prolific is the bird-life that over the years their droppings have built up on the islands to a depth of 50 meters in some places. This guano has been collected to be used as fertilizer in what was a very lucrative trade for many years.
On the journey you can see the Candelabra, a three pronged giant figure etched into the coastal hills. The geoglyph is over 150 meters high and 50 meters wide. No-one knows it´s purpose but there are a number of theories including links to the Nazca Lines and a navigational guide based on the Southern Cross.
The Ballestas Islands are visited from the port at the small, pleasant beach town of Paracas. From here you can also visit the Paracas National Reserve. The desert reserve is located on the peninsula and bay of Paracas which also boasts the archaeological remains of the Paracas Culture. The reserve covers an area of 335 thousand hectares, of which 217,594 correspond to marine waters and 117,406 to the mainland.
Also nearby is the fishing port town of Pisco, 235km south of Lima. The town shares it´s name with the white grape spirit that is the national drink of Peru and the basis for the famous Pisco Sour.
A trip to the Ballestas Islands combines well with visits to other destinations on the coastal area south of Lima, such as the wine growing area of Ica, Huacachina Oasis and Nazca so feel free to ask us for more details.