Visiting the Galapagos Islands would be an undoubtedly amazing trip, but also financially draining. The Ballestas Islands, just off the coast of Paracas in southern Peru, have been dubbed the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”, but what people don’t know is that off the coast of Lima lies another group of biologically miraculous islands that is teeming with life. Isla Palomino, a short boat ride from the port of Callao in Lima, has everything a nature lover could want and is not nearly as expensive as other Peruvian island tours can be.
This small group of islands just off the coast of Lima offers visitors a glimpse of the rich sea life along Peru’s coastline. Take a tour to see the various types of birds and sea lions, which have recently brought in more tourism—the island’s location near the country’s capital city makes it ideal for travelers.
Make sure to bring your camera because you’ll be getting up-close encounters with Peru’s marine life: included are sea lions, penguins, exotic birds and, if you’re lucky, even dolphins. The city of Lima is covered in grey fog for most of the year, so you can expect it to be rather cold on your tour with visibilities that are not always the best. When the sun does come out, make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen—when it shines, it shines strong.
If you really want to get the full Palomino experience, why not go for a swim with sea lions? Trips can be arranged to include a swimming party with tiny sea lion puppies. For those who love animals and dogs, this is for you; sea lion puppies really act just like dogs and swimming with these guys may become the highlight of your South America trip.
There are many different types of tours that can be arranged, from simple boat tours to hands-on diving excursions with sea lions. Some companies have trained biologists as guides, so it’s best to look into the company that you’re choosing to go with. A tour of the islands, plus swimming with sea lions, costs around $100-150 USD (£71-107 GBP) and will typically pick you up from your hotel—a nice gesture considering how difficult it can be to get around Lima.