Imagine tiny islands full of birds. Many birds. Lots, lots of birds. Actually millions of birds, flying all over. For me (I am a nature freak) it was one of the most amazing views of this trip.
Islas Ballestas are the main attraction of the National Park of Paracas, a couple of hours south from Lima. Some people advertise them as ‘Galapagos of Peru’, which is somewhat too flattering for the Peruvians. But still the Ballestas still impress with their wildlife. They say there are 150 different types of birds on the islands. Impossible to spot even a part of them, but what you see is exciting enough: there are colonies of pelicans, Peruvian boobies with their chicks, Inca terns, cormorants …. and …. penguins (It has always been my dream to see the penguins)
The Humboldt Penguins, called also peruvian penguins, swim in the cold streams of the coastal waters of Peru and Chile. And they are so cute, walking clumsy on the ground but don’t be deceived – they become extremely fast once they enter the waters!
The boobies, cormorants, pelicans and penguins live in peace and harmony with sea lions. I saw whole big colonies of those beautiful creatures – really extraordinary!
Islas Ballestas used to be economically strategical for Peru in 19th century due to the guano, the bird shit (there were far more birds on these islands at that time). Guano was being sold to the European markets and the economy was experiencing a boom. There was just one little problem – exported at the rate of more than 500 tones a year, exploited by the greedy governors, the guano islands got depleted at one point… And the peruvian economy was close to crash.
Some sociologist nowadays would say that the country did not learn much from its history. The Peruvian economy now is based mostly on the export of gold, silver and copper, which are bound to finish one day as well…