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~
188 thoughts on “Islas Ballestas~”
Yike! Sorry! Somehow my comments got turned off. I restored them. It seems like my follow function is flaky too. Please let me know if I get unfollowed from you!
Thank you for the many wonderful Sony moments you have given us including these.
God Bless my Sony Camera and you!
Such gorgeous pictures.
I am honored. Thank you!
Wow! Viva Peru!! 🙂
Amazing colours in the caves – great shots, Cindy!
Very happy you enjoyed & cheers to you! Viva Peru <3
Absolutely stunning photo essay, Cindy! Any additional information on the giant candelabra on the island cliff?
The Candelabra remains a mystery. I took so many photos of it, looking at it from all angles, trying to figure out what it could be or mean, and I remained stumped. Here’s what wiki says:
“The Paracas Candelabra, also called the Candelabra of the Andes, is a well-known prehistoric geoglyph found on the northern face of the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay in Peru. Pottery found nearby has been radio carbon dated to 200 BCE, the time of the Paracas culture. The design is cut two feet into the earth, with stones possibly from a later date placed around it. The figure is 595 feet (181 meters) tall, large enough to be seen 12 miles at sea.
Although the exact age of the Candelabra geoglyph is unknown, archaeologists have found pottery around the site dating back to around 200 BCE. This pottery likely belonged to the Paracas people, although whether they were involved in the creation of the geoglyph is not known. The reason for the Candelabra’s creation is also unknown, although it is most likely a representation of the trident, a lightning rod of the god Viracocha, who was seen in mythology throughout South America. It has been suggested that the Candelabra was built as a sign to sailors, or even as a symbolic representation of a hallucinogenic plant called Jimsonweed.”
Thank you so much, Cindy, for the detailed response! Hopefully others will read it too. It is very interesting indeed.
We live in a beautiful world. I love tagging along on your adventures.
You know my travel wouldn’t be the same without you Rebecca <3
Hi Cindy, Glad I checked back since I was disappointed I couldn’t comment. Your images are amazing! The sheer number of cormorants and the Candelabra are astounding. Terrific post.
I am so glad you circled back Jane. I would have hated to miss your kind and thoughtful words <3
These islands are uncommonly beautiful and intriguing. Thank you for bringing them into my consciousness. I am looking forward to learning more!
Love & blessings to you Linda and I will be happy to share more with you <3
Wow! Wonderful tour, Cindy. Thanks for taking us along. 🙂
Thank you for joining me Lynette. You make the experience better <3
Beautiful photos. The colors in the caves are amazing. I see the Guanay Cormorants are colored more like penguins and have a very narrow range along the west coast of South America and the Islas Ballestas from the large colony in your photos. We get Neotropic Cormorants up here, but I only seen one or two at a time. The Neotropic Cormorants are blackish brown and their range is all of South and Central America, with an island up here in the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
Yes, cormorants are remarkable birds. The Guanays do look remarkably like penguins are hard to distinguish from a distance. I have seen and photographed them at the farthest reaches of South America. I have also seen the neotropics in South and Central America, handsome birds, but had no idea they lived in the Rio Grande Valley. How cool is that! Thank you for educating me.
How beautiful those sea caves are!
My camera picked up the colors more than my eyes could even see. So beautiful!
As usual, another wonderful post, leaving us in awe!
Awww, honored & humbled. Thank you very much <3
Wow! Stunning geologic formations and the Candelabra!
Such an amazing part of our beautiful world.
So interesting and beautiful!
It is so good to know, there are still places left like this <3
Wow! Another wonderful post Cindy. Amazing place!
Thank you Alison. Means a lot to me from you, since we both travel the world, maybe for the sole purpose of being amazed. McCartney said it best, “Maybe I’m amazed…”
I am amazed by how much I love this planet.
I know <3
Before arriving to Paracas, there is the city of Pisco. There I lived until I went to Lima to study at the University near Callao, in front I had Palomino Island. As a school assignment, we were going to clean the Candelabro. We also helped Maria Reiche, raising funds to build an elevated vantage point to appreciate the Nazca figures before they became more famous, 1964. As a curious fact, at that time we unearthed ceramic objects from the Paracas Culture without knowing the historical value they had . I had one at home but we gave it to the Museum of Paracas that I do not know if you went through there. As you can appreciate, you have brought part of school life in your photos. Fate plays us those passes in life. First, Palomino Island / University, and now Paracas / College. I do not lie to you that a tear ran through my eyes because of that nostalgia of times that went by very quickly. A hug and thanks for making me enjoy my memories.
Your memories bring tears to me. I love Pisco. I have been to this region twice before, and I keep coming back. There is something magical that draws one back and never really lets you leave entirely. The wild creatures, the sea, the ancient Paracas culture, the clues they left behind, the incredibly stunning beauty, if it had such a strong effect on me, and it did, and does, I can only imagine what it must feel like for you, to be born in this stunning place, cleaning the Candelabra as a school assignment, holding on to the Paracas ceramic you brought home, and protected, without knowing it’s actual value, somehow, you did know though. It is all magical isn’t it, and it is in your blood and memory. Lucky you to have such beautiful memories, and lucky me to to visit here, and to know you. Gracias por compartir sus recuerdos conmigo. <3 <3
I’m lucky to meet you through the lyrics and share your emotions, they make me very happy. I appreciate you more than you imagine.
Igualmente mi amigo <3
Amazing, Cindy. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you more for appreciating <3
This has been a real treat!
Ahhh, so glad & cheers to you Anne!
So glad it wasn’t me lol. WP did an update and wiped out tons of people’s follows. I’m still trying to find them all. I’m guessing your comment issue is just another part of it.
These caves are amazing. And the wildlife!! I’m really living this trip. 😉
Who knows? Dealing with so many many millions of people must be a burden, right? Facebook? Except of course, for the profitability of it. These are just rhetorical questions of course. We are in good hands. I am not too worried I just said this, unless there is an algorithm to obliterate me, and such comments completely.
Oh, that wouldn’t be good. I’d be lost without my trips with you! <3
It’s a beautiful untouched island!! And that 200BCE candelabra!! It looks so mysterious and exciting at the same time…do you know what it means? 🤔
Essentially no one really knows what it means. It is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. I looked at it from every angle, I had ideas, but no conclusions. Which maybe is exactly what this ancient art is meant to depict?
Oh ok…so modern art apparently didnt have such ‘modern origins’….it could be found in these 200BCE creations!! 😀
Jokes apart…looks very mysterious…wonder what would be in the mind at that time!!
Those rocks look like a kaleidoscope! Wow.
The pebbles on some local beaches look polished and full of color too, more so, the further south you go.
Stunning! What a treat!
You make me happy I posted <3
Wow, the colour of those rocks!
Some of the beaches in this part of the world are covered entirely by gorgeous, polished rocks of many hues, that look like gems you would buy in a rock and mineral store.
how fortunate to visit
and share, thanks 🙂
Most fortunate of all, to receive such kind appreciation, from you <3
Das sind klasse Fotos. Wo ist das denn. L.G. Wolfgang
Vielen dank mein lieber Freund Wolfgang <3
Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
These are marvelous photos taken by Cindy Knoke of the islands of the Paracas National Reserve.
Thank you for all the kind deeds you do Patricia <3
wow thank you for daring….you are such a blessing..take good care of you
You are such a blessing too, my friend. Thank you! <3
Wow! That has to be more than magnificent in person! Breathtaking!
Yes, just the feathers and down in the air alone, created by the volume of birds, was something I have never experienced.
Wow Cindy. You sure have been to some beautiful and unique places.
Thank you Brad, I try hard.
impressive photos of commanding views 🙂
Much appreciated! Thank you.
What a fascinating place Cindy. Who created that giant Candelabra? And just look at all those mineral deposits.
The Candelabra is quite an amazing mystery. The minerals and fossils, just lying on the beaches in Chile, Peru, and Argentina are staggering.
It almost looks like big strands on gold in those rocks…
It is mineral rich volcanic rock, shaded in a cave out of the sun, spending lots of time under the sea being polished by the waves. The pebbles on some of the beaches have some of the same polished hues. It is very beautiful. I think if you beachcombed on these beaches you might find lots of semi-precious rocks and even fossils. The entire area is fossil and mineral rich.
a real treasure trove….
Thank you Cindy.
Stunning scenery and beautiful photos! The caves have wondrous colors. And the huge colony of cormorants is an amazing sight!
Thank you Peter. Love & prayers for your and Marion <3
Cindy, amazing as always. It is rather grey and damp here so that was perfect. Thank you.<3
So happy to add a little sunshine to your day Lea, but the flowers will soon be glorious in France <3
Cindy, always a treat. Oh the flowers are glorious here. So much so, I thought about posting some of the photos? <3
Wow, what fascinating land and I can’t believe how many birds there are. Love all the colors in the caves.
Thanks much Ingrid & hope all is well with you!
Earth is a very pretty place…. sometimes…. somewheres. Great shots, Cindy! Take care.
Yes, sometimes, somewhere <3
Cindy, how blessed you are to be able to visit all these beautiful places!
I go to these places to provide meaning to my life. The staggering beauty of our natural world, puts us appropriately, in our place, and seeing this makes me happy.
Thank you Rosaliene.
The colors and geologic formations fascinate me, Cindy. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous place with us — looking forward to more!!
I am so happy you travel with me Debbie. You make the experience much richer <3
These are so interesting, almost ethereal!
Yes. So happy you enjoyed & cheers Candice.
Wow, are those rocks pink?? What cool geology!
I want to beach coming from on south. The pebbles on the beach are incredible!
The caves are awesome. They are colorful and bright!
Mother Nature like to rock her colors! <3
Amazing, Cindy, nature at her best and most unusual!
Thank you Terri! Mother Nature rocks <3
[vimeo 122576045 w=640 h=360]
Islas Ballestas, Distrito de Paracas, Provincia de Pisco, Peru from javier diaz on Vimeo.
I walked out the same pier! Thanks for the video!
Adjectives fail me! I’m in awe of this wonder of the natural world.
Yes! I am too Liz. Thank you <3
The layers of colors in the cave are incredible. Thank you for the geography of Peru, and your gorgeous photography, Cindy!
Thank you more Jennie, for your kind appreciation <3
You’re welcome, Cindy. 🙂
Gorgeous and amazing. Just beautiful.
Pingback: Islas Ballestas~ — | Rethinking Life
What amazing, ancient sea caves with layers of colors!
I know. I am always just blown away by Peru, and other places far south. They are so resource rich and beautiful. They haven’t been wrecked yet.
I had no idea…. Thank you for the post, Cindy!
Visa versa 2UX2 Amy <3
Such beautiful pictures! 🙂
Thank you my friend, and be well.
A treasure cove of colour. Its like another world, yet it is ours. You visit such interesting places, and then share it with others. 💕
Incredible Cindy, stepping back in time… amazing thank you.. ♥
I love seeing geologic time in rock strata. Someday that will be what is left of us. Lines in rock. I wonder what our lines will look like? Something with radioactive and plastic traces in it I suppose.
Plastic I am sure Cindy. I felt the same seeing cave paintings… hugsxxx
Wow so beautiful!
Thank you. It is a unique and beautiful part of the world.
You made my day my sister, truly beautiful photos! I have been ill! Inspired by what you always share! Hugs and blessings!
Oh no! I am so sorry. How are you now? Sending you prayers and hope for a full recovery <3 <3
Those geologic strata really are quite remarkable. The darker layer looks like basalt. Any idea what the others are?
I suspect there are bird pictures coming…
I do not know what the rock layers are and I would like to know. I do they are volcanic and you can see the strata in the exterior rocks, but the exterior formations are muted by the effects of erosion and sun exposure, these cave interiors are polished by the sea and kept in the dark. We need a geologist to way in here. You are right, the BIRDS are coming!!! Take cover!
Wow, the colors of the rocks in the caves are amazing! And that candelabra! Do you happen to know who made it?
Basically The Candelabra remains ‘a mystery wrapped in an enigma.’ It is a geoglyph, thought to have been made by the by the Paracas people who lived in this region from 800-100 BCE, because pottery from around The Candelabra carbon dated to around the same time the Paracas Culture was present in this area ie., 200 BCE, although it is possible the geoglyph is much older. The figure is cut into the earth about two feet deep, and the earth petrified over time saving the geoglyph. It is huge, 181 meters tall and can be seen up to twelve miles out to sea. It oddly geometric, basically a series of triangles and straight lines, until the top section, where the lines curve in patterned waves. Some surmise it is a depiction of Jimson Weed which was a hallucinogen plant used at the time for religious purposes, others guess it might be a depiction of the lightning rod of the god Viracocha, still others think it was a navigational symbol. I do have more photos which I can post as people do seem interested.
Thanks for the information, Cindy! That’s very intriguing – what a mystery!
You are most welcome Josh.
Wow! Thank you for the photos!
Awww, thank you for liking them <3
wow, Cindy, these are amazing. I’m so curious to see the candelabra and wonder what it really meant. And the colours, and wildlife. oh wow. xxx
So pleased you enjoyed Adele & here is a link to The Candelabra: https://www.amusingplanet.com/2017/07/paracas-candelabra-of-peru.html
Thank you, Cindy. xxx
Oh wow, these are absolutely spectacular Cindy! The rock caves look rainbow colored or is that reflection. 🙂
It’s volcanic rock, in a dark cave, polished by sea water, like the granite slabs in my kitchen. The layers were amazing though!
OMGGGGG absolutely stunning!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You are such a thoughtful friend. Thank you & cheers too <3
Cheers my friend <3
I have seen some colorful rocks directly and many more by admiring photos of places like Sedona or the Grand Canyon. The sea caves here surpass anything I have seen or could have imagined before seeing this post.
So pleased you enjoyed them and thank you for letting me know! Cheers to you
herzliche Grüße aus dem schönen Norden an der Müritz
Viele Grüße aus dem sonnigen Südkalifornien! <3
danke, sehr nett
Your photos are sooo cool! Visiting your website means never to be disappointed. 🙂
Thank you for showing us the world from it’s most beautiful side! <3
Your kind comment touches my heart. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. It is very much appreciated <3
Wow! Your photography never ceases to amaze me!
Ahhhh, so kind of you & so appreciated too! Thank you Chandra <3
You do have amazing excursions to fantastic places ! Hi ya Cindy 😀 I thought I’d do some surfing here today, who knew I’d arrive in Peru ? The first photo is really mind blowing ! Sooooo many birds. We enjoyed Cormorants at the lake I used to live at. They followed around the Pelicans because they found the good fishing I suppose. Did you get a good whiff of bird droppings when you floated by? Well worth it to see unspoilt nature. I do love the idea of an uninhabited island reserved for nature…wish we were that smart up here. xK
They actually harvest the guano from on these islands and sell it for fertilizer at a hefty profit as there is so much of it. (My husband has been waiting for me to talk about this, which I have been avoiding.) I love it that I get to talk about it with you!!! 😉 I think guano harvesting would be a truly difficult job, although I know someone who has made a fortune picking up and selling agricultural chicken poo in the USA. One creatures poo, is another creature’s profit, and all gets recycled. Aren’t you glad you mentioned the birdie doo!!!! <3 😉
Absolutely mind-blowing, Cindy. Loved all of your images and wish I was there too. 🙂
So happy you enjoyed & Happy Weekend my friend <3
Cindy, thank you for these beautiful and stunning photographs!
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here are more beautiful and stunning photographs from Cindy Knoke!
Gratitude & appreciation for your thoughtfulness Charles. Cheers to you!
Beautiful and interesting photos as always 🙂
Thank you John.
Thank you very much for showing another piece of paradies, Cindy! Its really a second Galapagos. Have a nice Sunday! Michael
Happy Sunday Michael & thank you for kind appreciation <3
Always a great pleasure to me, Cindy! Your images are always so wonderful, and giving a very positive impact. Thank you so much, and have a nice week ahead. Best wishes, Michael
Those colors in that cave! Wow! Fascinating!
Mother Nature justs keep on surprising us! <3
Wow so beautiful !
Greetings & gratitude back to you!
Gorgeous work, as always, Cindy!
You are a kind person Robert. Thank you & cheers my friend~
Brilliant I love the rock structures I’ve never seen anything like those colours, I wonder what makes the pink?
Cindy, you are guilty of inciting temptation to travel! Thank you.
Oh good! I look forward to tagging along wherever you go, even if it’s just next door! Where you live, next door is pretty special <3
Cindy, I feel the same and there is little that could blast me from my village… <3
They are incredible indeed, Cindy! The colours inside the cave, materials formed over a long long time, are just fascinating. And that candelabra, wow! Makes me think maybe some aliens got lost or stranded so they made a huge ‘HELP’ sign so the mothership can spot them, haha. Cheers to you my friend.
That is about what I thought. It does look other-worldy to me too!
Wow- amazing images! Love how you captured it!
Ahhh, so pleased you do & thank you!
Oooh, your seas were calmer and more low tide that the morning we did the boat ride out the island. We did not see through those bridges nor see the range of colors you saw. Nice photos. (we did see thousands of birds though). – Oscar
When I looked at the candelabra, I thought I saw the face of a wild animal. Love your photos. Thanks for sharing them.
Thank you Constance. What you saw is fascinating!
I love it
Yay! So glad you do & cheers too <3
Exactly what I thought when experiencing them.
Wow! I like the term Unusual Island. Great Photos as usual. 😊
You notice things. How great is this!
Amazing and beautiful!
They are fascinating and wonderful, thank you & cheers! დ