The Paracas Peninsula, located in Pisco province, Ica department, was made a National Reserve thanks to the rich fauna that inhabits this territory. It includes very large colonies of sea lions, such as the Punta Arquillo and Morro Quemado.
The sea cat or chingungo, a marine otter that inhabits the more desolate rocks and beaches on Peru's central and southern coast is indigenous to the area. The Mendieta and La Catedral beaches are host to the largest registered number of these species, which are unfortunately are listed as endangered.
The Ballestas Islands are home to the largest number of sea lion colonies. The predominant varieties are the slender seal (Otaria byronia) and fur seal (Arctocephalus australis). These are always easily spotted by visitors. Other areas of interest include rock formations and caves and the variety of marine birds that inhabit them, such as the Humboldt penguin.
Further south, 200 km (124 miles) from Ica City, is the Punta San Juan Reserved Zone, established to protect nesting areas for guanera birds, Humboldt penguins and a large sea lion colony.
Following the same road on the Pan-American highway south, 70 km (43 miles) from Nasca, in the Marcona district, is the San Fernando National Reserve, which provides the unique opportunity to get up-close and personal with the sea lions. The reserve is also home to a variety of marine mammals, like the sea cat or otter (Lontra felina) and 13 species of whale, including the humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae), the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) and the orca (Orcinus orca).
The Ica coast holds a delight for whale-spotters and fans of diverse marine mammals. Visiting the different reserves takes 4 days.