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The Ballestas Islands is an important wildlife reserve, with over 160 species of marine birds, including Humboldt penguins, cormorants, boobies and pelicans. There is also animal life, including vast numbers of sea lions. Condors can sometimes be seen flying overhead, especially in February and March, as they feed on the carcasses of dead sea lions. Dolphins and even whales can also be seen at times. The Islands do not actually form part of the Paracas National Reserve, and are protected by separate legislation.

The only way to see the wildlife around the Islas Ballestas is to take a boat trip to the islands. Although visitors are not allowed on to the islands for conservation reasons, views of the wildlife from the boats are excellent. Sea lions frolic in the water around the boats, jumping and playing, and there are fantastic photo opportunities. The islands also have some impressive rock formations, which can be very beautiful with the sea crashing against the rocks. A boat excursion to the islands lasts about two hours.