Lima, with a population of nearly 10 million people when counting the metro suburbs, isn’t exactly the first place you’d pick for a natural wildlife refuge. Here at Pantanos de Villa, however, over 200 different species of birds all flit through the wetlands spanning 650 acres outside the Chorillos suburb. On the winding network of walking trails, visitors with binoculars can encounter dozens of species in the span of a couple of hours. Scan the reeds for Black Skimmers, Herons, and Puna Ibis, and look in the water for Great Grebes of Neotropic Cormorants. Many of the birds here are migratory and sightings change with the seasons, and the months of December and January brim with seagulls lining the coast. 11 species of amphibians and reptiles can also be found in the reeds, although unfortunately as the city continues to grow, the manmade threats to Pantanos de Villa are literally encircling the marsh. Nature lovers with a stop in Lima should definitely visit this biodiverse sight before it’s potentially too late—although local conservation groups continue to work to do everything they can towards protecting the fragile site.
Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge is located 12 miles south of downtown Lima in the working class district of Chorillos. The site is accessible by private taxi or as part of a guided tour, or—if you would prefer to travel by public transport—it’s possible to travel by metro or bus when combined with a little bit of walking. Admission is approximately $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for children, and the refuge is open from 8:30am-4:30pm daily.