Swimming with sea lions in Lima, Peru

Last February I’ve spent a few weeks in Peru with my partner in crime. He is a real water and wildlife lover. I, on the other hand, am not a big fan of water. He had convinced me to go swim with sea lions… After setting aside my fears, I experienced a great water adventure with one of the cutest animals I’ve ever encountered. While researching about this activity I realized there’s definitely poor information about this on the world wide web – so here you go! 😉

PS, I already warn you for the pictures: some water came into the Go Pro case & ruined the quality of most pictures. Also, I was terrified. WATER and SEA LIONS from close-by aren’t my cup of tea.

Option 1 – Islas Ballestas (can’t interact with the animals here, read further for swimming!)

In Peru, you can easily visit the Islas Ballestas. These famous Islas Ballestas are groups of islands which are located about 4 hours from Lima. You’d have to navigate yourself to the small town named ‘Paracas’. What’s so special about these islands? How does ‘penguins in Peru’ sound to you? Strange? Well, that’s the spot to encounter wildlife such as sea lions, penguins, pelicans, etc. This tour consists of a boat ride and some information on the islands and the animals.
I, myself, didn’t make it to Islas Ballestas but instead I went for an alternative:

Option 2 – Swimming with sea lions on Palomino Island

How to get there?
First thing you’ll have to do is to get to Callao. Callao is considered to be one of the dangerous places in Lima, however, I didn’t notice any danger. Just don’t provoke and avoid going when it’s dark. It is a port town located about 30 to 40 minutes from the capital city. Tell your taxi or Uber driver to go to ‘Port of Callao’, get out at the square and follow the next instructions:

Find a tour
As we got out of the Uber, we immediately got approached by several tour companies that were selling the tour to Palomino Island. We choose the one that was least pushy and that offered us a fair price. We were the only foreigners in the group, which I like as it gives a more local experience. There were other tours where foreigners did join. If you mind being to the only outsider, choose your tour wisely. Later on, I learned that it is also possible to book this tour in advance (online). Of course, you’re going to pay a higher price. You have got to determine what you prioritize… An example of a company that uses online service is Mar Adentro.

Departure time
These ‘swimming with sea lions’ tours usually start around 10 am. We made sure to be at the location at 9:45 so we could find a tour calmly. One circuit usually takes around 2,5 hours until you get back at the starting point.

Action, action, action!
The boat ride takes about 45 minutes for you to get to the exact location. This gives you the times to enjoy the sun, the views and the wind in your hair. It’s also the time when you’re going to change yourself into a wetsuit, in order not to freeze when you get into the water. Because YES the water is cooooold. The smell and the noise of the sea lions will give you a heads up once arrived. You’ll be free to drive into the water and swim. Enjoy! The sea lions are super curious and will approach, listen to your guide and don’t touch the animals. Let them play around and do their thing 😉

Look right.

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