Pantanos de Villa is the local name for the only wetlands located inside Metropolitan Lima. This is the only natural protected area and ecological park in Lima area, and its staff organizes walking tours and educational visits for both kids and adults. Pantanos de Villa — Photo courtesy of Pantanos de Villa
These wetlands are pretty close to the center of Chorrillos district, which is not far from Miraflores and Barranco, and since they are connected by the Huaylas Avenue and by the Panamericana Sur road, getting there takes less than an hour.
Pantanos de Villa wetlands cover almost 2000 hectares of land, that provide the perfect habitat for over 150 resident bird species, many of which can be seen only in Peru. Elegant Tern at Pantanos de Villa — Photo courtesy of Pantanos de Villa
Since 1997 this area is acknowledged by the Ramsar convention as an Important Wetland, that is, that provides feeding, breeding, roosting and sheltering sites to resident and migratory birds, which travel many thousands of miles between North and South America (escaping from the Northern Hemisphere winter), and between the Andean high altitude lagoons and the Amazon: a total of 208 have been reported here. On an average day, you can expect to see some 35 species. Pantanos de Villa — Photo courtesy of Isabel Guerra
The Villa wetlands include prawling “totora” (a native plant) reed clumps, pools and meadows, all of them fed by water seeping up from the Rimac River watershed. Pantanos de Villa — Photo courtesy of Isabel Guerra
Many tourism operators make a stop here while on the way to Pachacamac citadel ruins: these visits are usually short. But there are also some companies that organize birdwatching excursions to Pantanos de Villa, which take usually half day. You may not be a birder, but if you are in Lima with your children, they will for sure enjoy these tours that combine fun, nature and learning.
A good alternative suitable for everyone’s first time here would be taking the Mirabus tour to Pachacamac, which departs from Parque Central de Miraflores (or Miraflores Central Park) and schedules a short visit to the wetlands, so you can have an idea of what to expect for a future excursion. Pantanos de Villa — Photo courtesy of Isabel Guerra
The usual route includes the Costa Verde marina and beaches, so this is a very nice trip during the Southern Hemisphere spring and summer (from September to March)
If you are renting a vehicle in Lima, you may use it to come here, too, since there is plenty of parking space (for free). There is also a small picnic ground. But you may also head either to the South, to Pachacamac (the valley and the citadel ruins) and Lurin (to enjoy the landscape and the countryside), or to Chorrillos, where there are some very good restaurants for lunch time.