The Ballestas Islands are a small group of islands off the coast of Peru. They are accessible by boat from the town of Paracas (near Pisco). They are located just outside of the Paracas National Reserve – a protected area of salt desert on the edge of the South Pacific ocean. The islands are an important habitat for a range of sea birds including Humboldt penguins and Inca terns. They also support marine mammals such as sea lions. On the way to the islands a mysterious ancient geoglyph – the Candelabra – can be seen carved into the cliffs.
Average rating: 2.0 (average)
Average spend per person: $30 ($30 – $30)
Number of reports: 1
Best time to visit: January – March
Typical activities: animal watching, bird watching, boat trip
Wildlife in the ballestas islands
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the species visitors most want to see here are as follows:
Humboldt penguin – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
Humboldt penguins nest on the islands and can be seen year round. They are visible (although binoculars are recommended) from boat tours which leave Paracas and typically last around 2 hours (~$15). Tours to the islands are also run from hostels in Haucachina (~$30) although they spend a longer time on the road. This means that they can lead to shorter times on the boat and a rushed trip through the islands. It is also worth noting that the boats have large numbers of people and loud music is played which can take the focus off the natural setting.
Sea lion – 100% of visitors (1/1) reported sightings
The islands are home to a large population of South American sea lions. While they can be seen year round on boat tours leaving from Paracas, the breeding season runs from January to March. During this time large numbers of sea lions are visible on the islands and the beaches are full of sea lion cubs and large rival males defending their mating territories. Take binoculars if you want good views as the boats don’t get too close to the islands.