PARACAS


The Paracas region is a dry desert area on the south coast of Peru. Though at first glance it can appear desolate, it is in fact home to abundant sea and bird life. The Ballestas Islands, just off the coast, are sometimes described as Peru's answer to the Galapagos Islands, and although they do not match the splendor and variety of their Ecuadorian cousins, they are never the less interesting in their own right.

The nearby Paracas Bay Reserve provided an important source of revenue for Peru during the mid-nineteenth century, with vast quantities of guano (bird droppings) produced by the area!s seabirds being exported to Europe for use as fertilizer. For several decades this industry was Peru's biggest export. Today the park preserves a beautiful and biologically important coastal habitat. On a historical note, the spectacular red and white flamingos of the area were said to be the inspiration for the colors of Peru!s flag.
The story goes that when General San Martin landed in Paracas bay in 1820 to begin the liberation of Peru from the Spanish Crown, he was taken with the striking colors of the birds and remembered them later when designing the flag.

PARACAS HIGHLIGHTS

Ballestas Islands – The islands are home to over 150 species of marine birds, including the Humboldt penguin, cormorants, boobies and pelicans. On their shores large numbers of sea-lions can be seen and in the surrounding water it is possible to encounter dolphins, and sometimes whales. The islands! shorelines are eroded into numerous caves and arches that provide shelter for the birds and sea-lions that live there. The only way to visit is by taking an organized tour, and while visitors are not allowed onto the islands themselves, the views from the boat are excellent.

Paracas Bay Reserve - The Paracas Bay Reserve is home to thousands of sea-birds such as flamingos, penguins and pelicans and offers spectacular scenery. Established in 1975 the park is vital for the protection of both bird life on the Paracas Peninsula, and the surrounding sea!s marine life.
As well as wildlife, the reserve is home to a museum of the Paracas culture (c.700BC) featuring fine examples of textiles and some well preserved mummies.