Peru is not only Machu Picchu and the Inka´s, there is so much more to see in this vast country, considered one of the most biodiverse on the planet. Have you considered the Amazon Jungle with everything for the nature and animal lover. Alternatively, the Arequipa area complete with Colca Canyon where you will see the mighty Condor flying overhead. Why not travel to the northern coast of Peru and visit the archaeological sites of Chan Chan and Senor de Sipan. All can be visited on a Peruvian Vacation. However, in this article we will take you on a journey to an area south of Lima where you will find the Peru Ballestas Islands and the Nazca Lines.
Travel south from Lima around 4 hours and you will come to the seaside town of Paracas. The town has only a few houses and a few hotels with fabulous views of the ocean but what most people travel to the area is to see is the Ballestas Islands, These islands and the rest of the Paracas Wildlife Reserve create a safe place for many creatures to live, breed and play. A short speedboat ride from the town are thousands upon thousands of birds of different varieties that call the islands home. The tour will take you close to the islands to witness the birds in their native environment. Some if the species of birds you may expect to see are the Peruvian Pelican, Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Booby, different varieties of Cormorants and the Inca Tern. For the bird lover the Ballestas Islands are a paradise to be hold. Not only will you see the birds but the islands are home to the “South American Sea Lion” The Sea Wolf, though they are slow moving on land, the Sea Wolf is a very effective hunter in the ocean. The Sea Wolves will often come and play around tour boats, and at the right time of day, their barks and calls will create a deafening chorus ringing from every corner of the islands.
Around the islands in early spring (August to October) Humpback whales can be seen on their way north for mating season. Once nearly extinct, these majestic creatures have made a remarkable recovery and are stable which today is an inspirational story of conservation.
If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of this rare species of otter, which is the smallest mammal that lives exclusively in saltwater, very little is known about this elusive creature, including the number remaining in the wild. Both poaching and hunting to protect fish, stocks threaten the marine otter, making nature reserves such as Paracas essential to their continued survival.
Around 3 hours’ drive south of Paracas you will arrive at the small desert town of Nazca, the Nazca area receives virtually no rain fall all year round, making the town a dry dusty place. The climate is pleasant never getting cold and always warm. The town became famous early in the 20th Century when archaeologist discovered the lines drawn in the desert floor.
What are the Nazca Lines, you may ask; the lines are geoglyphs or drawings on the ground made by removing rocks and earth to create an image. The desert floor has weathered over thousands of years so when the upper rocks were removed they reveal a light sand colored rock, the light colored rock is how we see the lines. Because of the dry climate, the lines have been preserved for more than 500 to 2000 years. Scientists believe that the lines were made by the Nazca people, from around AD 10 to 700.
The lines were discovered in the 1930s when two pilots flying a commercial flight saw the lines and reported them to the Peruvian government. In the 1940s American Professor Paul Losok investigated the lines, when the sun was setting he noticed that the sunset was in direct alignment with the lines, he called the lines the largest astronomy book in the world.
Today you are able to see the lines by taking a short flight in a light aircraft. On the flight, the pilot will explain the lines and point out the shapes for you. Some of the figures you will see on your flight over the Nazca lines are the Condor, hummingbird, pelican, shark, bird, fish, spider, lizard, parrot, flamingo, iguana, dog, llamas, jaguar, fox, whale and monkey. The largest figure is the bird measuring around 990 feet.
The other way to see the lines, which is less popular, is to travel out of town to the observation tower you will see a number of the figures easily.
The best time to visit Peru, Ballestas Islands and the Nazca Lines will depend on your vacation time, but the Paracas Reserve and Nazca there in no best time as the weather is great all year round. Summer in Peru on the coast is from December to March and the temperatures can be hot and humid.
Take one of the many luxury Peru tours on offer, do your research for the best companies, read websites like TripAdvisor who give great advice for the luxury traveler, but whatever you do, do not miss the Ballestas Islands and Nazca.