Paracas National Reserve, The Ballestas Islands

by Captain Bill

The Paracas National Reserve, The Ballestas Islands

Bill and Marmelita on the way to Ballestas Islands

Bill and Marmelita on the way to Ballestas Islands

I was skeptical about comparing Peru’s Paracas National Reserve with the Galapagos. I wondered if it was marketing Peru. I was wrong. Now that I have been to the Ballestas Islands, and observed their wild marine nature with my own eyes, I believe if Charles Darwin had landed the Beagle on the Ballestas Islands instead of the Galapagos, he would have developed his theory of evolution just the same. Paracas and the Galapagos are equals and must be protected for future generations to wonder at the diversity of nature.


According to Parks in Peril, “…with 295 species of marine algae, 190 mollusks species, 168 fish species, and 101 invertebrate species within the reserve’s waters. Many endangered and threatened species find refuge at Paracas, including the sea otter-which is in danger of extinction-the South American fur seal, Southern sea lion, and leatherback and green sea turtles.”


“…Paracas is a haven for shorebirds, with 216 species. Among the endangered birds are the Humboldt penguin, American Flamingo, and Peruvian diving petrel, as well as highly-threatened species such as the blue-footed booby, Peruvian booby, masked booby, three species of cormorant, black-faced ibis, Andean condor, perigrine falcon, and the black skimmer.”


Our photos don’t begin to do justice to what we saw. We were in a small boat tossed around by the sea. I didn’t want to risk getting salt water on my good Leica camera, so Marmelita took these photos with a point and shoot Canon. There were 26 other travelers, with 26 different style cameras on board. I was the only one being too careful with my camera. No one else seemed to give a thought to salt water corrosion.


No camera could capture the vast numbers of birds. I guess there were a million, or millions…


The tour guide told us in the 1850’s when Peru first started mining the bird guano for fertilizer to export to Europe it was 150 feet deep on the coastal islands and was Peru’s biggest source of income for decades, until the rubber boom. Because the guano is produced by fish eating birds, and it never rains, the nutrients are not leached out, the guano from Paracas is considered to be the highest quality in the world for agricultural purposes.


We enjoyed watching the penguins, and sea lions.



The photo above comes the closest to capturing the vast numbers of birds on the islands. Every white and black dot you see on the ground, as far you can see is a bird. That is how it is everywhere on the islands. They are absolutely covered with birds.


We were happy to have dolphins playing near the boat.


This photo also shows the bonanza of birds that live on the islands. The rocks in the background are black because they are completely covered with birds.

Marmelita and I loved our experience up close to nature on the Ballestas Islands. We recommend it.

Bill Grimes is Captain of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises.

The Paracas National Reserve, The Ballestas Islands

Read more about Bill and Marmelita’s honeymoon to Paracas by clicking the links below;

Iquitos To Paracas, The Beginning Of Bill and Marmelita’s Peru Honeymoon;

Bill And Marmelita, Paracas Peru Honeymoon;

Marmelita’s Big Paracas Adventure;

Paracas Fishing;

Our Honeymoon Moves North From Paracas To San Bartolo;

Escape To Punta Hermosa;

Honeymoon Over, Back To Iquitos, Back To Work;

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 dawson July 7, 2010 at 5:27 am

Love this post….. thx for the pix !!! Wanna go now…..

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