Ballestas Islands

Ballestas Islands / Best Natural Attractions

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The Ballestas Islands, considered the “Peruvian Galápagos,” are home to an amazing roster of protected species, including huge colonies of sea lions, endangered turtles, Humboldt penguins, red boobies, pelicans, turkey vultures, and red-footed cormorants. The islands are so covered with migratory and resident seabirds that they are known for their production of guano, or bird droppings. The Ballestas are part of the Paracas National Reserve, two-thirds of which is ocean. Sadly, the Reserve was affected by the 2007 earthquake, losing one of its iconic stone formations, known as the “Cathedral.”

The Ballestas Islands are a group of rocky islands located off the Pacific coast near the town of Paracas, and are famed for their abundant wildlife. Nicknamed “The Poor Man´s Galapagos”, they are a must-see for all wildlife lovers as they’re home to thousands of birds and mammals including penguins, sea lions, Inca terns and pelicans.  The islands are protected, meaning you cannot swim with the animals or walk on the islands themselves, but you will get very close to them by boat. A unique experience for those that will not make it to the Galapagos.

The only way to get there is with a boat tour, offered by many travel agencies. None of the small boats have a cabin, so dress to protect against the wind, spray and sun. The sea can get rough, so sufferers of motion sickness should take medication before boarding.

Wear a hat (cheap ones are sold at the harbor), as it’s not unusual to receive a direct hit of guano (droppings) from the seabirds.

On the outward boat journey, which takes about 1½ hours, you can’t miss the famous three-pronged Candelabra geoglyph, a giant figure etched into the sandy hills, which is over 150m high and 50m wide. No one knows exactly who made the geoglyph, or when, or what it signifies, but theories abound. Some connect it to the Nazca Lines, while others propound that it served as a navigational guide for ancient sailors and was based on the constellation of the Southern Cross. Some even believe it to have been inspired by a local cactus species with hallucinogenic properties.

Visit http://www.peruluxurytravel.org/ for more information.

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