Islas Ballestas - A view from our expert author

Islas Ballestas, Peru by Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia Shutterstock © Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia, Shutterstock

Found off the coast of the Paracas National Reserve, these rocky islands, the Peruvian Galápagos, team with bird and marine life including sea lions and penguins.

The Ballestas Islands, sitting in the middle of the Humboldt Current, are a protected haven for marine animals and birdlife; with more than 100 migratory and resident bird species supported by the plankton that thrives in the warm shallow waters, they are sometimes generously described as Peru’s Galapagos. There are dozens of small islands but tours focus on three main rocky atolls pocked with caves and crannies that rear out of the ocean, with rock arches spanning stretches of sea and providing a surreal sculpted landscape for a wealth of endemic wildlife.

The islands are home to hordes of sea otters, Humboldt penguins, pelicans, terns, boobies and cormorants, with more beneath the surface to discover. Pods of dolphins are often seen nearby, whilst humpback whales can also be spotted in the vicinity.

Back to the top

Peru articles

View all

10 lost cities of the world

From crumbling Persian empires to colossal Roman cities, here are some of our favourite ruined civilisations from around the world. 


Favourite sites in Cusco

Hilary Bradt tells us about her personal favourites from 20 years of introducing trekkers to Cusco.


Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, 1969–73

Machu Picchu had been Hilary Bradt's goal ever since seeing a black-and-white photo of the ruins, swathed in cloud. 


Related guides and other books

View all