The Ballestas Islands include small group of islands close to Paracas, situated just within the region of Ica. And because it’s referred to as the Poor Man’s Galapagos, we were so there!
Visiting the Islas Ballestas is one of the highlights of this area and attracts tourists year around. These beautiful islands are actually rock formations, serving as the area’s most significant sanctuary for marine life.
Bird species such as the guanayguano bird is the most important guano producing in the Peruvian coast. (We’re talking bird poop folks!) Also, the Blue-Footed Booby reside in the many islands and are popular among the tourists. Other known species are Humboldt Penguins, two different species of seals and the sea lions all call the Ballestas home.
You can get to reach the Ballestas Islands by a tour boat which leaves twice a day, early morning and early-early morning from the Paracas boardwalk. For a mere 30 Soles (around $11) you are taken on a 2 hour tour.
Many tourists come to see the El Candelabro, a big-scale geoglyph as mysterious as the Nazca Lines. Some theorize the design was carved into the mountain to be used as a guide to the mariners, a sort of Southern Cross. But who knows, one can only speculate.
From an ecotourism standpoint, visiting the Islas Ballestas is most probably the best experience of the tourists along the Peruvian coast.
Other than birds, expect to see many other species, like the lazy sea lions. We were told that often the come up to the boat to welcome the tourists but the day we were there, they all must have been nursing an incredible hang-over, since they didn’t budge an inch. We were told the sea lions commonly make a very unusual sound which comes from their wolf-pack cries all over the Ballestas that amazingly echoes and produces a 360 degree surrounding chorus. But this day, Na-Da.
I loved learning that not all penguins thrive in cold weather. This little guy was right at home on the Ballesta rocks. However, I thought he looked a little lonely.
If you don’t have the extra $500 to drop on a tour to Galapagos, then this is a wonderful alternative. No sea turtles, but so many birds to keep you wishing you had a hat on!