Poor Man’s Galapagos and Paracas, Peru

By Erin Hancock

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Although the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador are known around the world for gorgeous images of penguins, seals, tortoises and the like, Peru has its own relative facsimile. It’s called the Ballestas Islands and it’s off the coast of Paracas, a small town about a 3 hour drive south of Lima. It’s a smaller, perhaps less awe-inspiring visit than the Ecuadorian experience, but definitely still worth the boat ride.


In a 2-hour round trip boat ride, any tourist with a penchant for adorable penguinos, swarms of birds and fantastical sea life will truly enjoy themself.

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The penguins are perhaps smaller than one would imagine, and so adorable as they waddle in lines (colonies) around the island.

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Watch the water as you ride to and fro the mainland as you’ll see the not-so-lazy sea lions playing in the wake (probably fishing).

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The white colour of the island is guano. That’s right, coveted bird poop. Each year a team of very ‘fortunate’ workers head to the island and scrape off meters of the white debris to be used as agricultural fertilizer. If you like this line of discussion, click here for more guano info. The birds that produce this white gold here on these islands are predominantly Peruvian pelicans, Peruvian booby birds and Inca terns.


On the way one can also see a large candelabra in the sand. The history is uncertain, but the locals treat it similar to Peru’s Nazca Lines….aliens, an Inca contribution to the gods, bored locals with too much time on their hands…no one can be certain.


Back to the mainland in the town of Paracas

The sun seems to be always out in this little piece of coastal quiet.


Paracas is a bit of a romantic paradise by the ocean with many hostels/hotels to choose from at a fair cost, lovely restaurants with your choice of great seafood (ceviche of course) and a quaint market with super relaxed vendors.

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Take a load off. Steps from the beach you’ll find all the vendors you’ll need to stay all day on the beach. Enjoy a beer, some street food, buy a wide-brimmed hat and take in the fishy sea air.

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Happy travels or happy armchair travels!


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