Paracas and the Ballestas Islands, Peru

I never got around to posting my pictures from the tail leg of my Peru trip. These are all from Paracas and the nearby Ballestas Islands, which have been called the ‘poor man’s Galapagos’ because the islands feature over 160 species of birds (including Penguins!), along with Sea Lions, Dolphins, and seasonally, Whales.

Paracas is a tiny town right on the Pacific Ocean and was, unfortunately, hit hard by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami in 2007. The reconstruction efforts are ongoing, and the hotel I had been planning on staying in was actually wiped out in the earthquake/tsunami. I guess my guidbeook was printed before the earthquake hit!

Despite having split up with my fabulous (and fluent in Spanish) travel companion Elly, I was able to find a good place to stay and set myself up with a ticket on the next morning’s boat tour out to the Ballestas Islands. It was a little cold, and a lot grey, but the islands were amazing none-the-less. There were thousands of birds, and our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the islands. Highlights included the adorable Humboldt Penguins:

Penguins!

And the stunning view of the Cathedral rock formation in the Paracas National Reserve itself. the Cathedral

The rock formation was damaged in the 2007 earthquake. Named the Cathedral, due to the arch formation and the hidden caves beneath it, (viewable here) the arch collapsed in the earthquake, and the caves were filled in by a rockslide.

Interestingly, in the town of Paracas, you can still buy postcards featuring the original arch.

View the full photoset here on my flickr page.