Paracas & Pucusana

Paracas & Pucusana

The Humboldt Current of the southwestern coast of South America is the most powerful ocean current in the world that carries nutrient-rich, cold waters of high latitudes straight to the tropics, in this case the coast of Peru, where powerful, year-round sunlight generates astronomical quantities of plankton and a phenomenally-dense food chain of fish of all sizes. The superabundance of fish and plankton supports astounding populations of millions of seabirds, sea lions, fur seals, and even 33 species of dolphins and whales.

The most efficient ways to catch a glimpse of this world-record marine life is to visit either of two coastal sites south of Lima: Pucusana and Paracas. The easier of the two sites to visit is the colorful fishing village of Pucusana, which is an easy one-hour drive from the hotel districts in the southern part of the city of Lima. Twenty years ago, SouthWild biologists pioneered the most entertaining way to enjoy close-up views in Pucusana of thousands of beautiful seabirds, sea lions, and even the rare Marine Otter. In particular, SouthWild developed proven methods to observe and photograph both Inca Terns and Peruvian Pelicans from distances of only 1-3 meters. The former probably is the most beautiful of the 47 species of terns of the world, and our custom-designed and fully-tested method of viewing at Pucusana makes it the only site on Earth where you can observe this spectacular species in the wild at such close range. Furthermore, the experience of close-up observation of Peruvian Pelicans flying, landing, floating, and taking off is unique. The Peruvian Pelican looks almost identical to the very handsome Brown Pelican of the USA, except it is 30% larger. Seeing such huge birds fly so close and land on the water near you seems like a scene straight out of “Jurassic Park”, with extinct pterodactyls come back to life. Pucusana is the only site on Earth where either wild Inca Terns or Peruvian Pelicans can be seen and photographed at such close range, and all thanks to the work of SouthWild.

Paracas National Reserve is the other site in Peru that we can recommend for marveling at the extraordinary marine wildlife of the waters of the Humboldt Current. This 828,000-acre (1,294-square mile) reserve lies four hours by car south of Lima and requires a two- or three-night stay. On display in the reserve are marine animals in dramatic settings of the cliffs and rocky islands just off the desert seacoast. During a two-night stay, one sees tens of thousands of large seabirds of more than a dozen species, endangered Humboldt Penguins, and thousands of sea lions and fur seals. As an additional wildlife treat, for much of the year, several hundred very colorful Chilean Flamingoes are seen daily foraging in one of the reserve’s secluded ocean bays. One of the most exciting activities in Paracas is the two-hour-long speed boat trips to circumnavigate the wildlife-rich Ballestas Islands, and it is reassuring to learn that the juxtaposition of the frigid Humboldt Current and the sun-baked desert coast results in the complete absence of coastal storms on the coast of Peru, so you can enjoy boat trips every day of the year.

Speak with our team for more details about this incredible trip, which we can customize to fit your interests.

Come travel with us

Perú Destinations

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Sandoval Lake

Manu Biotrip

Heath River Macaw Lick

Paracas & Pucusana

Lake Titicaca, Puno

Wind down your week with updates about conservation tourism in South America