The meeting of the cold Humboldt ocean current with the warm El Niño current off its desert coast, makes Peru’s seas among the most fertile in the world.
From the plankton at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean food chain to the whales at the very top of the food chain, Peru’s coastal waters are home to a seemingly infinite variety of life forms, including Humboldt penguins, dolphins, sea turtles and blue-footed boobies.
This incredible natural bounty means that travelers from all over the world can enjoy a range of marine adventures and water sports, from birdwatching, to whale watching, surfing, diving and sailing.
One of the less well-known attractions of Peru’s Pacific waters is its vast colonies of sea lions (Otaria flavescens). Known as the South American sea lion, southern sea lion, or Patagonian sea lion, Otaria flavescens can be found all the way from Ecuadorean waters to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
In Peru, enormous colonies of this magnificent species can be viewed in the Paracas National Reserve, at the well-known Ballestas Islands, less than four hours south of Lima, in half-day boat tours from the fishing town of Pisco.
But it is in Lima, Peru’s sprawling capital of around ten million inhabitants –a city more famous for its fine museums and unrivaled seafood restaurants- that travelers can actually enjoy the opportunity of SWIMMING with sea lions.
Swimming with sea lions at Islas Palomino, the islands off the Lima coast, is a fantastic way to get in touch with nature and learn more about the importance of conservation of this species and other marine fauna.
The islands of Palomino are home to a large colony of sea lions with no natural predators. In the past, the only threats to their peaceful existence came from humans. But today, environmental awareness programs and the increased popularity of boat tours to these islands, among both Peruvian and international travelers, has meant that the future for these delightful creatures is looking much more secure.
Unlike the Ballestas Islands, these islands are perfect for swimming because the colonies do not breed at the areas visited. In order to ensure that the sea lions remain undisturbed, boats must remain at least fifty meters from the shoreline, and swimmers at least thirty meters, where they can wait quietly for the sea lions to approach.
Boats to the islands leave daily on half-day tours from Callao, Peru’s largest port. Visitors can view the colonies of sea lions from the comfort of their boat, or climb into a Neoprene wetsuit and take the plunge! Swimming with sea lions is an experience you’ll never forget…
For more information about how you can enjoy the natural wonders of Peru, contact Andean Adventures Peru directly.