- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
My inner child came out the moment I spotted my first sea lions, penguins, seals, pelicans and cormorants, as well as the hundreds of birds soaring above the Ballestas Islands. The boat trip that takes you there lasts around two hours is a wonderfully enjoyable experience, with the spectacle on offer simply amazing … it will leave you with a truly unforgettable memory of your trip to Peru.
Did you know that the droppings produced by the cormorants on the Ballestas Islands are worth a small fortune? The guano is actually collected and sold as natural fertiliser on the world market. The fact that it's considered a kind of white gold in Peru should give you some idea of its importance. Its production is controlled, with guards living at the site to ensure nobody tries to make off with any of these precious droppings. I advise you to wear a hat during the drip … just in case!
In addition to nature and the beauties it offers, a visit to the Ballestas Islands also provides the opportunity to see something whose origins remain a mystery: a giant candelabra is visible on the flanks of one of the mountains at one point during the trip. This enormous geoglyph measures 150 metres high by 50 metres wide. Who was responsible for creating this masterpiece? And how did they achieve it? Though there are several hypotheses, there are as yet no firm answers.
To begin with, an important bit of info: this spot is ultra mega touristy. Buses full of people set off each from Lima, Ica, la Huacachina and aven Nazca just to go to visit the Ballestas. Let me tell you that is far removed from the principles of eco-tourism. Dozens of boats assail the said islands, without really taking account of the consequences.
Of course, theBallestas Islands are truly stunning. Packed with sea lions, pelicans, little Humboldt penguins, cormorants and other birds, whose names I have forgotten, who have all found a refuge here; a unique spectacle. The point of the visit, the immense geoglyph El Candelabro, drawn in the middle of one of the islands and whose origin remains a mystery even today.
So, is this a destination to add to your Peruvian itinerary ? A delicate choice. If you are seeking to travel responsibly, the decision will be easy to make. For my part - and in general I avoid these types of trips that have a negative, uncool impact on the the environment - I enjoyed the visit, the setting being simply fantastic. One could ask oneself "but at what price?" but here I'm not in a position to enter into the debate.