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Paracas National Reserve and Ballestas Islands

Paracas National Reserve (Reserva Nacional de Paracas) was established in 1975 and is important for the protection of both marine and bird life on the Paracas Peninsula. The Reserve is about 15km (9.3 miles) south of Pisco. It is a saline desert formed in the place of an ancient ocean. Paracas Reserve is the home to one of the largest sea-lion colonies in the world. You can see numerous birds along the coastline, including pink flamingo.  

Paracas Peru

Ballestas Islands (Islas Ballestas) near the reserve is a place where you can observe the life of penguins, sea lions, and many species of birds. If you visit the islands in March you will see female sea lions with babies – large numbers of these animals occupy the sandy beaches near the islands.

There are always people in Ballestas Islands collecting 'guano' (bird droppings), which is the best fertilizer and was valued more than gold at different times. When the first guano collectors arrived here these birds had accumulated guano reserves as deep as 20 to 70m (66 to 236 feet)!

The Paracas Candelabra, the Candelabra of the Andes

During the boat ride to Ballestas island you will have a chance to enjoy the view of the Paracas Candelabla (also know as the Candelabra of the Andes). It is a huge geoglyph that dates to 200 BCE, the time of the Paracas culture.  

Морские львы, Паракас, острова Бальестас

How to get there

Pisco is 240km (149 miles) south of Lima (3hrs 30mins by bus) and 210km (130 miles) north of Nazca (3hrs by bus). Several buses run in both directions daily.

How to visit Ballestas Islands and Paracas Reserve

The only way to see Ballestas islands is by taking an organized tour accompanied by accredited guides. You can purchase a tour in Pisco or Ica. Boats depart between 08:00 and 10:30. The boat tour takes about 2 hours.

Local travel agencies also offer the tours including the visit to the Paracas Reserve right after the boat trip to the Ballestas Islands. This is a convenient opportunity to visit both places in one day.


Take warm clothes and sunscreen with you.   

Paracas National Reserve and Ballestas Islands

Nearest tours to Peru

Organized tours with professional guides. Group or private services. All categories of hotels. 

Short tours in Peru

Short group excurstions with English-speaking guides for independant travelers.

Have a question about planning your trip to Peru?

We look forward to working together to turn your dream trip into lifetime memories!

Natalia Volchkova
Peru maven, founder of ExploreByYourself