Islas Ballestas~

Islas Ballestas, an island group off the coast of Paracas, are often referred to as Peru’s Galapagos. They are a group of uninhabited islands that are part of the wildlife rich, Paracas National Reserve. This is a colony of Guanay Cormorants native to Peru and Chile.

You cannot visit the islands without passing the giant Candelabra carved into the rock face and carbon dated to 200 BCE.

The islands shelter an incredible variety of fauna. There are literally millions of birds and their feathers float and fill the air like lazy drifting snowflakes.


There are fur seals, Humboldt penguins, Inca terns, blue footed boobies, and so many more amazing wild creatures here. I will show you them in my next few posts.

But for now, let’s just look at these unusual islands.

They are volcanic, and riddled with arches and ancient sea caves. The layers in the caves show the process of geologic time.

You can go in the caves, if you dare, and if you do, look at what you will see!

Cheers to you from Peru’s incredible islands~

Palomino Islands~

The geologically stunning Palamino Islands are off the coast of Callao Peru.

The boat trip out to visit them is exciting as the waters are rough, especially in the narrows between the islands.

Local fisherman brave the rough seas in their small pangas. There is an abandoned prison on one island reminiscent of Devil’s Island, and there are multiple old shipwrecks in the treacherous waters.

Like Isla Ballestas, which I will show you next, these Peruvian islands are a wonderland of marine mammals and birds, including Humboldt Penguins. The Patagonian Sea Lion nurseries, where mamas drop their babies off for group day care while they go off to fish, are especially fascinating. Doesn’t the adult baby sitter in the lower right corner look just a tad stressed? I can relate to how she must feel!

Child care duty takes a village!

These huge southern sea lions are friendly,

and very curious.

They seem to enjoy checking out the humans who come to visit.

Cheers to you from the remarkable Palomino Islands~

Costa Rica Croc Walk~

When hiking in Costa Rica and Central America, one needs to not be so mesmerized by the flora and fauna,

that one fails to notice the crocodiles, which is actually quite easy to do, since they are so well camouflaged. Do you see them here? Looking like logs in the river?

Sometimes you won’t even see the crocs, but you will see the holes they rest in and their drag marks.

How doth the little crocodile 
improve his shining tail,
and pour the waters of the Nile
on every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,       
how neatly spreads his claws,
and welcomes little fishes in,
with gently smiling jaws! (Lewis Carroll)

After you come upon a croc unexpectedly for the first time, you are far more vigilant in the future!

Cheers to you from Costa Rica’s crocs~

Golden Mantled Howler Mama & Baby~

I found this pair on the shores of a river leading into Lake Nicaragua. Golden Mantles are named for the long golden hairs on their backs and shoulders. They are the largest Central American monkey and are critical seed dispersers and germinators.

I stood very still,

and shot them for quite awhile.

They both eventually became curious,

and walked down the tree branches directly towards me!

They hooted gently, causing me to back up!

I wasn’t sure at first if it was safe for them to get this close.

My cowardice seemed to disappoint them, and they went back up the tree, and about their business, ignoring me.

Cheers to you from Nicaragua’s friendly Golden Mantles~

Green Winged & Scarlet Macaws~

Green Winged Macaws have green feathers on their wings and red feathers on their faces. They are red, green and blue, and live in South America.

Scarlet Macaws are red, yellow and and blue, with white faces.

Scarlets live in South and Central America and Mexico.

I was amazed to come upon this friendly scarlet in Costa Rica.

I couldn’t figure out why he was performing for me, until his mate turned up, and I realized they were feeding their chick in a nest in the hollow of this tree.

I have never seen nesting wild macaws so this was quite a thrill!

Macaw populations are scattered in the wild and rare to find.

Their numbers have been decimated by habitat destruction and the pet parrot trade.

Macaws are highly intelligent and mate for life.

Cheers to you from the incredible Macaws~

Patagonian Sea Lions~

Check out los lobos del mar playing in Peru!

This group was photographed in Los Islas Palominos off the coast of Lima.

They were quite curious about their unusual human visitors,

and kept popping up to get a better view!

This bull was hanging out near La Serena Chile.

Southern bulls are more massive and furry than their northern counterparts,

and they seem more threatening too!

These happy guys were playing around Islas Balestras near Pisco Peru.


I am only intermittently near functioning wifi so please excuse my absence, and cheers to you from Los Lobos del Mar~

Valparaiso Open Air Art~

There are hundreds of wall sized open air painted murals all over Valparaiso.

Click to enlarge this photo to see how the artist recycled plastic soda bottles to create living window planters for her imaginary town and writes about the need to creatively recycle plastics .

The talent and creativity of these artists blows me away.

In this hostel, I zoomed in on the art around the doorway in the photos below, so you can see the detail.

What strikes me is how talented these artists are,

and how many of them will remain unrecognized.

It is often luck that makes one famous, and another unknown.

In a fairer world, all these artists would be recognized for the true talent they have.

Valparaiso is full of gifted artists, but it also has so many poor people, and the largest slums in Chile.

The unfair fact this illustrates is that talent and poverty often reside together.

Please note: I am traveling by sea now and have limited access to internet. I will check in when possible but please excuse my inability to be responsive online.

Cheers to you from the talented artists of Valparaiso~