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Paracas Reserve Peru
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Paracas National Reserve

The vast desert reserve of Paracas is Peru’s largest piece of protected coastline, with towering cliffs fringing beaches swarming with wildlife. The 117,000-hectare reserve includes 200 hectares of ocean, packed with marine plankton feeding a huge number of fish, octopi, sharks, whales and dolphins in one of the world’s richest seas. The reserve was established in 1975 to protect the 1800 species of plants and animals that are found here, including a long list of resident and migratory water birds such as Chilean flamingos, Humboldt penguins, pelicans, sanderlings, moorhens, boobies, cormorants, terns, and even Andean condors and red-headed vultures. There are also many different types of mammal including seals, sea-lions, marine otters and desert foxes; and sea turtles.

The reserve also has archaeological significance. In the Paracas Necropolis - the burial ground of the Paracas people dating back to 700 BC - numerous mummies were found by Julio C Tello, wrapped in colourful embroidered cloths considered as the finest examples of pre-Columbian textiles in the country. The Paracas Trident, or ‘El Candelabro’, is a massive 128m-high by 74m-wide geoglyph carved into the desert hillside on the northern end of the reserve, which is best seen from a boat.

The Ballestas Islands are often called the ‘Guano Islands’ because every centimetre is covered in bird droppings! They can only be reached by boat, and they are off-limits to people. These relatively small islands lie west off the coast from Pisco only a few kilometres north of the Paracas Nature Reserve. A series of arches and caves provide shelter for more than 160 species of marine birds – including Humboldt penguins, boobies, pelicans, terns and Guanay cormorants. There are also huge numbers of sea lions, and if you are lucky you may also see dolphins and killer whales – giving the Ballestas Islands their other name: the ‘Peruvian Galapagos’.

If you want to visit the Paracas Nature Reserve & Ballestas Islands, please contact us so that we can show you our various itineraries.

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