Most travelers to Peru are on a well-worn path, often trying to do too much in too little time. Those who take the time to go slower, however, soon find out that there’s more to Peru than one wonder of the world. The country has incredible diversity in climate, landscape, and attractions.

We just posted a travel story on one side tour that only a fraction of Peru’s visitors experience, but is definitely worth doing if you can fit it in: the Ballestas Islands by boat and the Nazca Lines by air. You can do all this from Paracas (and stay at the striking Hotel Paracas as a base). That town is only three hours south of Lima. Few people want to spend more than a couple nights in Lima anyway, so this is a good trip to do at the beginning or the end.

The Ballestas Islands can be visited in the course of a couple hours. It’s a collections of islets and rocky outcrops in the sea, with nearly every semi-flat surface covered with wildlife. Photo ops galore. You can go on a group boat, which is fine, and it’s a bargain. To do it in style though, visit the tour office in Hotel Paracas and charter their yacht to take you there on your schedule.

That company will also arrange a Nazca Lines tour, leaving from the nearby airport in Pisco. Again it’s about two hours: flying time to get down there, an hour seeing the lines from the air, then the trip back. It’s a bizarre landscape down below even before you get to the lines, the kind of place where you look down and think, “If I got dropped off there, I’d die in no time.” A far cry from the lush Andes or the jungle.

These strange lines have been here for some 2,300 years, but the reason they’re so fascinating is that you can really only see them from the air. So nobody could check the progress as the work was going on. This one pictured here is kind of crude, but some of the others are incredibly intricate and well-designed.

See the full story here: Touring the Ballestas Islands and Nazca Lines of Peru