NATIONAL PARKS TOURS PERU

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BALLESTAS ISLANDS NATIONAL RESERVE

BALLESTAS ISLANDS NATIONAL RESERVE: Most boats take you in 1 hour around the islands,  much too fast to enjoy birds and wildlife. Want to stay longer?

Ballestas Islands National Reserve

The Galapagos Islands of Peru, these islands are called and with good reason. Just like on the Galapagos Islands, the birds and Sea Lions on the Ballestas Islands are fearless of people, but there are a few major differences:

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You can enjoy the Ballestas Islands in a few hours, as opposed for Galapagos where you need a minimum of 3 days;

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A trip to the Galapagos Islands will easily cost you $1,500 all in, while seeing the Ballestas islands will cost you less than $100, depending on the service;

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But most importantly, on the Ballestas Islands you will see many more birds than on all of the Galapagos Islands combined. In fact, with the colonies of some of the birds being larger than 150,000 nests, the Ballestas Islands have some of the largest marine bird colonies in the entire world! This is a spectacle you don't want to miss!

 

Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Peru is so famous, and on top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site LimaWorld Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.

 

Now having made the comparison, we don't want to suggest that you would do better going to the Ballestas Islands in stead. On the contrary, Galapagos is fantastic and if you can effort it, we suggest you do both!

 

The islands were originally known for producing the agricultural fertilizer "guano", bird manure. When exploitation started, the islands were covered by layers of 20 - 70m of bird droppings. While those layers have disappeared long ago, people still collect guano, but in much lower quantities.

 

Now the 12 hectares of bare rocks rising steeply out of the sea at a distance of about 10km from the coast, are far better known for their immense breeding colonies of marine birds. Well protected as a national reserve, more than 250 bird species are known to frequent the islands as well as 5,000+ South American Seals, Fur Seals and several species of migrating whales. The Sea Lions often approach the boats and show off to visitors as they dart through the water fearlessly. In March the the Seals have their babies. 

 

Among the more conspicuous species of marine birds we mention: Humboldt Penguins, Inca Terns, Blue Footed and Nasca Boobies, Neotropic, Red Legged and Guanay Cormorants (or Guano birds), Frigate Birds, Peru Pelicans, etc.

 

On the way to the islands, the boats pass by the "El Candelabro", an enormous archaeological geoglyph set out on one of the slopes of Paracas National Park.

 
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Chaco tourist pier from where most visitors depart. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Boats take visitors from Paracas harbor to the Ballestas islands.

The Chaco tourist pier from where most visitors to the Ballestas Islands depart.

Boats take visitors from Paracas harbor to the Ballestas islands, where birds and Sea Lions can be observed from mere meters from the rocks, without disturbing them.

Ballestas Islands National Reserve:

On the way to the islands, the boats pass by the archeological "El Candelabra" petroglyph, which can be best observed from the sea.

Ballestas Islands National Reserve: South American Sea Lions, Otaria Flavescens sunbathing. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: South American Sea Lions, Otaria Flavescens, colony.

South American Sea Lions, Otaria Flavescens, sunbath with hundreds on the rocks, where they crawl or lay on top of each other and always ready to pick a fight.

   
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Guano birds, or  Guanay Cormorants. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: the islands still produce guano, which is loaded on board of the ships.

The Guano birds, or  Guanay Cormorants are the most common birds on the islands, and thus producing the majority of guano.

While no longer as important as in the past, the islands still produce guano, which is loaded on board of the ships from high bridge-like piers.

   
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: a flock of Humboldt Pinguins. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Humboldt Pinguins diving into the sea.
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Humboldt Pinguins sunbathing.

No doubt the Humboldt Pinguins are the cutest birds to watch, as they waddle awkwardly across the rocks until they dive into the sea where they become some of the most agile birds on earth!

Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Inca Terns are the most beautiful birds on the islands. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Inca Terns with beautiful while eyelashes.

The Inca Terns are the most beautiful birds on the islands, as the show off their artistic white "eyelashes" on their beautiful faces.

   
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Neotropic and Red-legged Cormorants drying their feathers. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: roosting birds.

Neotropic and Red-legged Cormorants drying their feathers after a fishing spree.

Different species of roosting birds seem to mingle peacefully without fierce competition for space on the steep cliffs of the islands. 

   
Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Blue footed boobies. Ballestas Islands National Reserve: Blue footed boobies on nest.

Blue footed boobies find small ridges for their nests on the steep cliffs of the Ballestas Islands National Reserve.

   

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