Islas Ballestas – A cruise to the “Poor man’s Galapagos”

Paracas geogliph

The trip to Paracas

Close to the desert oasis of Huacachina, where we stayed for few days, you can find inslands commonly known as the “Poor man’s Galapagos” – Islas Ballestas. They own their name to the abundance of birds and wildlife. We decided to take a trip there, which included 2-hour cruise around the little archipelago. It cost us 60 soles each. We were picked up at the hotel and after an hour of driving we made it to Paracas. Than, we were pushed through the tickets booths and hundreads of other tourists and finally we were put on a small, crowded boat. Everyone was issued a lifevest, so that everything looks legit on the surface.

cruise to islas ballestas
cruise to islas ballestas


First attraction of the day was an ancient geogliph, created by the Paracas civilization. We still are not sure about the purpose of this 140-meater tall drawing. There are some theories tho.

Some scientists  are linking it to nerby Nazca lines, others see the map of the southern sky, UFO landing or…just a cactus.

Geogliph of Paracas
Geogliph of Paracas

Birds’ Paradise

After a very cold 20-minute cruise across the Pacific, we made it to the islands. They were literally swarming with birds! Pelicans, Cormorans, Penguins and many other had chosen this location because the waters here are full of nutriments. The reason for that is the cold Humbolt Current comming all the way from Antartica. We were close enough to smell the guano (fency term for bird poo), which is covering the entire island. We were slowly drifting among the rock clifs while marveling at billions of birds. There were also quite a bunch of the sea lions. They are spending their time resting after the night hunt. Two-hour cruise felt like 5 minutes, but fortunatelly it is not the end of the day, yet!

Paracas National Park

After the cruise, we drove to the Paracas National Park. We were surrounded by the desert landscape and some areas were red here and there due to volcanic rock and sand. We visited a view point, where you are supposed to see flamingos, but they are very far. Even though we zoomed with our 140mm lense, we still could not see much. Next stops to follow were some stunning beaches with rock clifs towering above them. The most famous rock arch known as the “Cathedral” collapsed in 2007 during the earthquake.

Red sand beach

Last stop was the famous Red Beach – Playa Roja. The sand there was truly red, but the ocean was furious that day and wind extremely cold, so we did not felt like swimming. At the end of the day we felt exhausted from the strong sun and howling winds. We were happy to relax in our warm desert oasis.

One Reply to “Islas Ballestas – A cruise to the “Poor man’s Galapagos””

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