The Ballestas Islands are part of the recently created National Reserve System of Islands, and Puntas Guaneras (RNSIIPG), whose main objective is to ensure the conservation of representative samples of the biological diversity of the coastal marine ecosystems of the cold sea of the Humboldt current, ensuring the continuity of the biological cycle of the species that in they inhabit, as well as its sustainable use with the fair and equitable participation of the benefits derived from the use of resources.
The Ballestas Islands are located in front of the Paracas National Reserve, in the department of Ica, approximately 250 km from the city of Lima, they comprise three islands: Ballesta Norte, Ballesta Centro and Ballesta Sur, these islands have great importance for being a deposit of guano and being considered as a privileged place to closely observe concentrations of marine fauna, such as they are the marine and guano birds, humboldt penguins and sea lions.
The Ballestas Islands have unique tourist attractions, in it we can find extraordinary monuments sculpted in rocks, great diversity of wildlife, between endemic species and migratory, dreamy sunsets, as well as a unique geology. Being considered one of the areas most visited by national and international tourists.
The Ballestas Island presents an unmatched diversity of seabirds, a must for the fans of birds from all over the world, and because of their quality, both from the ground and from the sea, many species of fauna use the Ballestas Islands as a mandatory stopping point to rest and feed themselves during their migrations, in addition to being considered a key dwelling point for the nesting of marine fauna.
The Ballestas Islands are composed of rock formations where there is an important marine fauna with guanay birds such as the guanay, booby and the tendril mainly, the North, Central and South Ballestas Islands stand out each with an estimated area of 0.12 square km.
You can also see Peruvian penguins that are in danger of extinction. Likewise, the Ballestas Islands are a refuge for two varieties of sea lions (fur seals and funny wolves) and other mammals.
These sea lions love to approach tourist boats and jump around them, this being a show that in itself fully justifies the visit.
It is also of special interest when you are near these islands, listening to the cries of the packs of wolves. It gives the impression of being surrounded by these animals practically almost 360 degrees. The aural spectacle is especially unique and unmatched. These sea lions are harmless.
The Ballestas Islands are located near the coast, at the height of Pisco. If you like nature and see animals in their habitat with your own eyes, during this excursion you will meet sea lions, Humboldt penguins (in danger of extinction), pelicans or cormorants, as well as other birds.
Due to the large number of birds that frequent the Ballestas Islands, guano became a very important source of income for Peru in the mid-19th century. The exploitation and impact of the export of fertilizer was such that at this time it is known as the Era of guano, something that the guide will surely tell you.
When you approach the islands, you will also see the great geoglyph that for centuries has served as a point of reference for sailors, a chandelier located on a hill, undoubtedly thought to be seen from the sea. Some 180 meters long carved into the sand about 2,500 years ago. Not bad … Like so many others, the interpretations are very varied: treasure map, Freemasonry symbol, pirate compass and of course the work of aliens, are some of the proposals on the meaning of this geoglyph.
Although it may seem that it is closer to the city of Pisco, the boats leave from the port of Paracas, so you have to get to that city. There are also tours that you can hire from Lima and that will take care of everything; Here are other alternatives:
If you are traveling from Lima, buy the bus ticket at Javier Prado station. The buses leave from there and the ticket will cost you between 10 and 20 euros, it depends on the company: Oltursa or Peru Bus, for example. The trip lasts about 3h 30min.
If you travel by car it is easy to get there: Pan-American highway until km 245, detour to Pisco and from there to Paracas.
Once in Paracas, you have 3 shifts to visit the islands in the boats that you can hire at an agency or at the port itself. 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The first shift is recommended if you have spent the night in Paracas, because the sea will be calmer and also the sun is less pressing. Of course, do not forget the coat or windbreaker, in addition to sunglasses and sunscreen.
If you want to do the excursion in one day from Lima and return, there are buses that leave at 6:00 a.m., so you will arrive without too much problem on the 10:00 a.m. shift.
You can do it for free by hiring a boat in Paracas, although it is true that in the city you will find many agencies with pack prices that will pay you to visit the Ballesta Islands and the Paracas National Reserve for an adjusted price, with a guide included. It usually costs about 50 soles.