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.

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