Peru’s “Mini Galapagos”

If you make it to Peru this summer–or ever–be sure to take a trip out to the Ballestas Islands. Tour boats leave from the coastal tourist town of Paracas. It’s worth shelling out $30 or so for the two-hour cruise through the rock island arches. You’ll see penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea lions, oh my!

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These three creatures are a unique combination found in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Because of this, the Ballestas Islands have been nicknamed the “Mini Galapagos.” If you’re traveling South America and want a glimpse of the island wildlife without having to pay an arm and a leg to make it to the Galapagos (which is worth it and one day I will shell out my savings for it), then don’t miss out on this nature excursion!

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Look closely! I spot 10 penguins in this photo. How many do you see?

Sure, it’s super touristy and you have to view the animals from the boat, but it’s a rare chance to observe these creatures in their natural environment. There’s no feeding of the animals, either, so they’re not exploited.

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Depending on what time of year you go, you’ll see a hundred sea lions or a dozen. But regardless, you will see some up close and personal snoozing on guano-covered rocks. No, that’s not snow. It’s penguin poop.

Look closely in the second photo. How many penguins do you see? I count 10!

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