Islas Ballestas

The Islas Ballestas are a group of three rocky islands 18km off the coast near Ica, in Southern Peru. They are part of a protected reserve and are sometimes called the ‘poor man’s Galapagos’. Boat trips take you around the islands, but you can’t step foot on them unless you’re collecting guano, which happens every seven years (did you know there is even a bird called the ‘guano bird’?). I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere with so many birds. Or anywhere that smells so much of bird.

On the way to the islands, you pass a giant geoglyph known as The Candelabra (or The Cactus, or The Trident). It’s age and purpose is unknown, but one theory sees it as a giant signal for fishing boats.

Humboldt Penguins and Boobies

The guide on the boat said these were called ‘moustache birds’.

Birds aren’t the only wildlife here.

On the way back, we saw a gazillion birds flying back to the islands. Their flight formations rippled like a ribbon.

A half-day tour costs 60 Soles, with an early pickup in Huacachina. The actual boat ride is only two hours, but that’s pretty standard. Most hostels in Huacachina offer the same tour, with a small difference in price.

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Gralha de crista negra, Iguazú National Park

I was trying to photograph one of these birds from afar, as it briefly touched down on a branch before flying off just as I had it in focus. But within five minutes there were more than enough, squawking and sticking their tail feathers in the air.