Spectacular rocks pummeled by waves and wind into ballestas (arched bows) along the cliffs mark this haven of jagged outcrops and rugged beaches that shelter thousands of marine birds and sea lions. You're not allowed to walk on shore, but you wouldn't want to—the land is calf-deep in guano (bird droppings). Bring a hat, as tourists are moving targets for multitudes of guano-dropping seabirds. Also, be prepared for the smell—between the sea lions and
the birds the odor can drop you to your knees. A boat provides the best views of the abundant wildlife: sea lions laze on the rocks surrounded by Humboldt penguins, pelicans, seals, boobies, cormorants, and even condors, which make celebrity appearances for the appreciative crowds in February and March. On route to the islands is Punta Pejerrey, the northernmost point of the isthmus and the best spot for viewing the enormous, cactus-shape Candelabra carved in the cliffs. It's variously said to represent a symbol of the power of the northern Chavín culture, a Masonic symbol placed on the hillside by General Jose San Martín, leader of the liberation movement, or a staff of the pre-Inca religious figure Viracocha.
Mar 31, 2009
The trip out to the islands makes a pleasant day's excursion, and the wildlife is truly prolific. Boats aren't the most modern or comfortable, but serve their purpose.