Even if you’re not a birder, the Ballestas are remarkable

Wonderful visit to the Reserva Nacional Islas Ballestas. Only protected since 2010, the area was once covered by guano up to 70m thick. The nineteenth century guano trade created modern “input-intensive” farming and guano is still mined though in much lower quantities. Before the birdshit came the birds and they are still there in vast quantities and configurations, from blue-footed boobies to Inca terns, pelicans and Humboldt penguins. There are herds of sea-lions, fur seals and peculiar red crabs clinging to the rock. The beasts are set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean colliding with South America. The power of the water creates a visceral experience.

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