Ballestas Islands

Ballestas Islands

The boat tour around the islands is one of the most popular excursion from Paracas. The islands constitute a habitat for a wide variety of birds and sea lions, which can be easily seen from a motorboat.

This excursion begins in the pier of El Chaco in speedboats (2 hours), on the way you will see the Candelabra, an enigmatic geoglyph over 120 metres long, which is best seen from the sea. This recommended excursion, you can come in direct contact with the wildlife of a marine ecosystem, and see close to flocks of seabirds and marine mammals that are often grouped into hundreds of thousands, is an incredible spectacle.

Although not allowed to land in the area, the boats pass close enough to the birds and animals that are in the islands.

Ballestas Islands are located in front to Paracas, and are three small islands, North Ballestas, Central Ballestas and South Ballestas, each one has an approximate area of 0.12 Km². The islands are located outside the area of Paracas National Reserve.

They are rock formations that inhabit vast colonies of sea birds, Humboldt penguins and sea lions. The islands are a refuge for two varieties of sea lions, lobo fino (Arctocephalus australis) and lobo chusco (Otaria byronia) and other mammals.

Photo Gallery Ballestas Islands - Photo Gallery

Birds in Ballestas Islands

Large numbers of seabirds and migratory species, huge flocks, Are so numerous that it is doubtful whether a complete census. Here you can see birds such as the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humbolldti), Peruvian Pelican (Pelecanus thagus), guanay (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii), Peruvian booby (Sula variegata), Red-legged Cormorant or chuitas (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) and Inca Terns (Larosterna inca).

More than 215 species of migratory birds spend at least part of their lives in Paracas, of which approximately 60 migrate between Peru and the United States. Several of Paracas’s avian residents and visitors have been declared endangered or vulnerable by the Peruvian govern.

Marine Biodiversity in Ballestas Islands

The sea of Paracas presents small marine currents that favor the numerous presence of the plankton, origin of the marine food chain, giving place to a habitat of numerous marine species; are registered more than 250 species of algae. The terrestrial flora is almost nonexistent for the absence of rains.

In the ocean also exists a variety marine wealth; great quantity of species, fish like the sole (Etropus ectenes), white toyo (Mustelus whitneyi), bonito (Sarda chilensis), tramboyos, dims, mero, pampanito, corvine, lornas, chitas, among others.

Bufeos [dolphins] (Delphinius dephis), turtles, mollusks like the octopus, squids, clams and crustaceans, as purple crabs and the muy-muy (Emerita analoga) are also common in this area.

Tours to Ballestas Islands

These islands are accessible from the resort town of Paracas by tour boat which typically lasts 2 hours, normally the boats begin the tour at 8 am. and 10 am. and depend of weather conditions.

Tourists should pay the right to use the dock, and SERNAMP payment for the visit to the islands, additional to the boat tour.

During the visits it is not uncommon for the sea lions to approach the tourist boats and make spectacles for the visiting tourists. The sea lions are also responsible for a unique audio spectacle with their cries that echoes around the islands and creates an effect of a 360 degree surrounding choir. The show is especially unique auditory. These sea lions are harmless. The sea lions population increases dramatically in the summer months (January - March), which corresponds to the time of mating and birth of offspring.

Tours in Paracas

  • Ballestas Islands

    Ballestas Islands - air view
    © J. Mazzotti

  • Ballestas Islands

    Huge flocks of Seabirds
    © J. Mazzotti

  • Ballestas Islands

    Boat tour in Ballestas Islands
    © J. Mazzotti

  • Humboldt penguins

    Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humbolldti)
    © J. Mazzotti