Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR) is the largest government-protected area in the floodable Amazon rainforest (ecosystem named várzea) in South America with an area of 2'080,000 ha or 5'139,792 acres, an area slightly larger than Slovenia or a half part of Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands or Costa Rica. It is considered as a RAMSAR site since 28 August 1986.

The reserve is triangular shaped by Marañón River in the North and Ucayali River in the South, just before their junction originating the Amazon River. There are around 50,000 inhabitants within its buffer area, most of them descendants of the Cocama Cocamilla tribe.

The PSNR is the habitat of 527 bird species, 102 mammal species (among them the pink and the grey dolphins), 69 species of reptiles, 58 species of amphibians, 269 fish species, and 1024 species of wild and cultivated plants. The reserve is a refuge for different endangered species like the charapa turtle (Podocnemis expansa), the spider monkey (Ateles sp.), the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the red macaw (Ara Macao), cedar trees (Cederla odorata), and others.

Most of the local population is involved in protection and natural resource management projects as repopulation river turtles taricaya and charapa and paiche fishing.

In the Amazon there are 2 seasons: the flood season from November to April and the dry season from May to October. During the flood season is easier to spot birds, monkeys and anphibias and during dry season there are river beaches to swim and is easier to observe alligators and river turtles.

To reach the PSNR is mandatory to has a guide or company registered on the SERNANP, the Government Authority for Protected Areas. It is nost possible to visit alone or with non-registered guides.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Iquitos, Manu or Tambopata? What is the best place for an Amazon Tour? - Part 2

Some time ago, we posted the FIRST PART of this article. On the Part 2 we will describe some highlights of the Peruvian Southern Amazon Rainforest of Puerto Maldonado village.


SOUTHERN AMAZON

Puerto Maldonado is a small village and capital of Madre De Dios department with around 80,000 inhabitants has road access and flights from Cusco and Lima. Nearby are the Tambopata National Reserve, the Bahuaja Sonene National Park and the Manu National Park both offering virgin jungle. Some of the highlights in Puerto Maldonado are:


  • Nearby pristine jungle areas. Puerto Maldonado is ideal for a wildlife focused trip. Primary jungle in around 45 minutes away from the city. In Iquitos is necessary to take a trip more than 2 hours to get virgin jungle. Because the flora and fauna found in its virgin ecosystems, Puerto Maldonado is known as the Peruvian Capital of the Biodiversity.
  • Clay licks. These places are a hot spots for wildlife like hundred of birds as macaws, butterflies and mammals as the South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris) that feed on clay.
  • Flights and buses. Puerto Maldonado is heavily linked to Lima and Cusco by air and land hence is very easy and affordable to reach this place from the main Peruvian destinations as Machu Picchu.



SUMMARY


  • Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado are Amazon destinations but offer different experiences. Iquitos is more developed and densely populated city, offering more options as relaxing lodges surrounded by secondary jungle (Amazon landscapes without wildlife), high-end river cruises, and lodges and expeditions within virgin jungle far away from the human impact. The offer is complemented by clubs, bars and nightlife. While Puerto Maldonado is a small village, quieter and with less urban options than Iquitos (credit and debit cards are not widely accepted so bring some Peruvian Soles cash), but focused towards sustainability and wildlife spotting.
  • Pristine jungle areas in Iquitos are more than 70 km (43 mi) from the city and 2 hours, mostly within the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Communal Reserve. These protected areas are well-known for river dolphins (pink and grey) and monkeys as the red uakari. Also Iquitos has the real Amazon River, nearby tourist places and some urban sights as historical buildings museums and nightlife.
  • Pristine areas in Puerto Maldonado are close (Tambopata) and are renowned for nearby clay licks, giant otters, macaws, the cock of the rock (living in high jungle ecosystems of the Manu National Park), the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) and land mammals.
  • Both Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado has a lot of birds, monkeys, sloths, alligators, snakes and spiders within virgin jungle areas.
  • The main issue to visit Iquitos and the Amazon river is the lack of flights from the south because most of the main Peruvian destinations including Cusco are in that area. Due the lack of flights linking the south or Cusco with Iquitos, to visit the Amazon River is necessary to go back to Lima (1 hour flight) and flight to Iquitos (1:30 hour flight), hence is cheaper to visit Puerto Maldonado (30 min flight from Cusco) and the Manu.
  • If you wish to visit the Amazon River/Jungle and Machu Picchu, two of the New Wonders (both, of the World and of the Nature) located in Peru, you may start your trip in Iquitos, then head to Lima to begin the classical route: Lima-Arequipa-Cusco-Puno. Copa Airlines has flights from Panama to Iquitos, linking it with Panama and via this city with main destinations in the East Coast of the United States.
  • In brief, the best destination in the Peruvian Amazon will depend on your budget, your route plan, your time span, your interests, and the type of accommodations and services you would like.

MORE INFORMATION


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Extreme Adventure in the Amazon Rainforest

If you feel that conventional jungle trips are so boring and you are looking for somewhat harder, Iquitos offers jungle survival training courses.

"We organize basic and advanced jungle survival training courses." Says Héctor Vezirian, naturalist and main organizer at Amazon Explorer, the only company in Iquitos that organizes this kind of courses as well as jungle expeditions off the beaten track. "Both courses are given by qualified and active military trainers."

Training the mind is essential for survival, involving a combination of confidence, aggressiveness and an extreme willingness to overcome adversity, even when circumstances are not on our side. Most of the methods you will learn during the course may also be useful in other areas.

Training courses contains aspects of jungle survival, giving the most practical ways of adaption to the environment, and the use of natural resources and is divided into two phases: Theory is given in Iquitos and the practical part is taught 60 km or 37 mi away from the city.

Participants are forbbiden to bring food and water. Just a knife, a compass, insect repellent and some other basic things. They must to fish, milk water from vines, making fire under extreme conditions, making flotation devices for water crossings, build their own shelter and traps to survive. Also, it will be taugh conventional help signals, first aid, techniques of buoyancy, rescue in rivers and lakes, transfer of injured, and more. After this incredible jungle experience each participant receive a certificate.

If you dare to learn the law of the jungle, contact Amazon Explorer (Iquitos, Perú); info@amazonexplorer.com ; www.amazonexplorer.com ; amazon-explorer.blogspot.com



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Amazon River International Raft Race


First edition of the Amazon River International Raft Race or Great River Amazon Raft Race (GRARR) was in 1999 as proposed by Michael Collins, an English expat living in Iquitos, to the Regional Tourism Authority to promote tourism in the Peruvian Amazon.

From 1999 to 2005 the route was along the Nanay River, starting the 2006 edition the race was extended to 180 km or 112 mi along the Amazon River, with teams of up to four people to build a log raft and paddle the total distance over three stages across three days.

The Great River Amazon Raft Race is considered as one of the greatest races to watch live by Lonely Planet and the World’s Longest Raft Race by Guinness World Records.

Some airlines and tour companies offers discounts for participants as Copa Airlines, Emperador Terraza hotel and Curassow Amazon Lodge.

Edition
Date
Teams
Route
Distance
Timming
1st
29 July 1999
43
Santa Clara to Bellavista Nanay
19 km (12 mi)
2h30
2nd
2000
60
Santa Clara to Bellavista Nanay
19 km (12 mi)

3rd
2001

Santa Clara to Bellavista Nanay
19 km (12 mi)

4th
2002

Santa Clara to Bellavista Nanay
19 km (12 mi)

5th
2003

Nina Rumi to Bellavista Nanay
41 km (26 mi)
4h20
6th
2004

Nina Rumi to Bellavista Nanay
41 km (26 mi)

7th
2005

Nina Rumi to Bellavista Nanay
41 km (26 mi)

8th
2006

Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

9th
2007

Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

10th
2008

Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)
12h19
11th
2009

Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

12th
2010
75
Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

13th
 6 - 9 October 2011
45
Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

14th
21 - 24 September 2012
38
Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

15th
2013
28
Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)

16th
18 - 21 September 2014
22
Isla Pescadores, Nauta (Amazon River) to Iquitos
180 km (112 mi)


More information

http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_River_Amazon_Raft_Race

Monday, September 22, 2014

Iquitos, Manu or Tambopata? What is the best place for an Amazon Tour? - Part 1

You are planning a trip to Peru and you remember some of the must see in the country: the Museums and largest water fountains in Lima, the Nazca Lines in Ica, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in Cusco, the world’s deepest canyons in Arequipa, the Titicaca Lake in Puno and the Amazon rainforest. A lot of information is available on Internet about these destinations, but when you search for the Amazon it can be confusing due there are two options in Peru to start a jungle tour: the Northern Amazon and the Southern Amazon.


NORTHERN AMAZON


Iquitos is the main city in this Peruvian region and the biggest city in world without road access, with around 450,000 inhabitants and the wealth past of the Rubber Boom from 1885 to 1914 is the main city in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and one of the main ports in the Amazon river. Because is a big city pristine jungle areas are inside the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, both offering primary rainforest. Some of the highlights in Iquitos are:

  • Amazon River. The first source of the Amazon River starts in the Quehuisha mountain (Arequipa, Peru) and at Meeting of the Waters of the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers, close to Nauta city and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, around 100 km or 62 mi south Iquitos, the Amazon River takes its name. From Iquitos is easy and cheap to take a boat to navigate for some minutes or hours the longest river in the world. As Machu Picchu, the Amazon River is a must-do in your Peruvian experience. Moreover, the award as a World’s Wonder of Nature is in the Boulevard, a riverwalk located one block from the Main Square (Plaza de Armas) of Iquitos. The Southern Peruvian Amazon is part of the basin with some tributaries, but the real Amazon River does not flow there.
  • Nearby places and tribes. Sights as the Amazon river itself, the Momón river, the Nanay river, the Monkey Island, the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage, the caiman farm, the Manatees Rescue Center, Quistococha Zoo, indigenous tribes (remember nearby tribes as Boras and Yaguas perform a show for tourists, “real” tribes requires more than 10 day expedition), the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve and four museums are some of the places that you may reach alone from 15 minutes to less than two hours per site, saving money using local transportations, without hiring an organized full-day tour or guide. Visiting those will be enough to keep you busy from 3 to 4 days. Perhaps the only requirement is to know some basic Spanish. Note that these places are in the city or secondary jungle with a lot of humans, hence there are not animals in the wild. If your focus is real nature, your require go a little far away from the city (see Tourist services and costs).
  • River cruises. Iquitos is the only river port in Peru to start a river cruise to the Amazon jungle and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. From affordable to luxury, these vessels are floating hotels that organize some excursions to the jungle near the river or stream they stop. Some cruise companies are Selva Viva by Latitud Sur, Delfin and Aqua Expeditions. Reservations in advance is necessary.
  • Tourist services and costs. The main conurbation in the Peruvian Amazon is base of many tour companies and lodges that offer expeditions to the jungle. Costs for most jungle excursions are lower than in Puerto Maldonado, but take note that most of the tour companies and lodges claim to be in pristine jungle but most are located on the banks of the Momón river, Amazon river or nearby places less than one hour by boat from Iquitos, densely populated areas without animals in the wild. Best ecosystems are more than 70 km (43 mi) south the city, onto secondary waterways, inside protected areas like the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Community Reserve or the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Primary jungle areas require more than 3 hours trip from the city, 2 night stay and are more expensive. Besides, Iquitos has a varied offer of accommodations from backpackers to luxury hotels, river cruises, restaurants, museums, banks, ATMs and nightlife offer. Visitors at Iquitos feel as they are in an Asian destination, in part because the unique character of Iquitos (different to any other place in Peru), and the large number of competitors is the reason for being of many aggressive touts and drivers offering mainly low-quality services along streets and the airport in order to claim for a commision from some companies. See some reliable jungle lodges at The 5 Best Jungle Lodges In The Northern Low Peruvian Amazon For Wildlife Lovers.

  • A crossroads city. Iquitos is isolated by land, but it can be reached by air or river from Lima, Tarapoto and Pucallpa in Peru; from Tabatinga (Brazil), Leticia (Colombia) and Panama city. Some airlines offer affordable domestic flights as Peruvian Airlines (www.peruvian.pe), Star Peru (www.starperu.com) and Avianca (www.avianca.com). International flights to Iquitos are operated mainly by LAN (www.lan.com) and Copa Airlines (www.copa.com). Also, after an arduous journey by river is possible to reach Ecuador, and combining with land transportations get some northern and southern Peruvian destinations as Chachapoyas, Chiclayo and Pucallpa.

On October 2nd 2014 we were publishing the Second Part of this article, with information on the Southern Amazon Rainforest and the Summary.

Monday, September 8, 2014

5 best jungle lodges in the Northern Peruvian Amazon for wildlife lovers

Harrier with fish at the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon Rainforest is the habitat of most of the wildlife in world. Peru, after Brazil, is the country with the second portion of the Amazon basin and is the country where the Amazon river itself begins at the Quehuisha mountain (Arequipa) and takes its name in the meeting of the waters between the Marañón and the Ucayali rivers, near to Nauta, located around 100 km or 62 miles south Iquitos, the main city and port in the Peruvian Amazon. The Peruvian Amazon is isolated so has one of the healthiest jungle habitats in South America. We have picked out five best and favorites ecolodges in Iquitos, located more than 70 km or 43 mi away from the city (primary jungle) to help you to take a good decision for a wildlife-focused trip.


YVY MARA EY LODGE

Yvy Mara Ey Lodge, located in Yarina village inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
Based out in the Yarina village inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, around 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Nauta city; is administered by villagers of Yarina who are committed on the sustainable use and protection of the natural resources of the reserve and were trained and assisted by the Peruvian government and NGOs. Yvy Mara Ey (Kukama Kukamiria language for “The land without harm”) offers confortable cottages surrounded by primary and protected jungle, with electricity provided by solar panels until 10 pm, private bathroom, shower with cold water. Staff is very kind, helpful and knowledgeable about the Amazon flora and fauna because they grew in the Reserve. Rates are all inclusive. Ivy Mara Ey is the first Green Choice accredited lodge in all over Peru, a sustainable tourism certification. Minimum required is 4 days / 3 nights.
Information and rates: reservas@pacaya-samiria.com ; www.pacaya-samiria.com


CURASSOW AMAZON LODGE

Curassow Amazon Lodge is located in the Iquitos' virgin jungle.
To reach is necessary an almost 4-hour speedboat ride along the Amazon River. Surrounded by a lot of lagoons in a wildlife-rich corridor between the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (a RAMSAR site and one of the largest government-protected areas in the Amazon), its location 190 km (85 miles) south Iquitos within protected and virgin rainforest is home of primates, river dolphins, caimans, tropical birds, butterflies, and more; ideal for wildlife enthusiasts. Their comfortable and secluded bungalows (cabins) starts from USD 105 per person per night, with private bathroom, shower and running water 24 hours, kerosene lights line walkways and limited electricity to avoid disturb the nature. Rate includes meals (full-board), transfers and activities led by local guides as canoe trips, jungle treks, camping, birding, piranha fishing and sport fishing. Minimum stays of 2 nights.
Contact them for more informationinfo@curassowlodge.com ; www.curassowlodge.com


EXPLORNAPO LODGE

ExplorNapo Lodge by Explorama is inside their private reserve in the Napo river.
This is one of the lodges operated by Explorama in Iquitos. It is located in a stream of the Napo River in the Sucusari Private Reserve, around 160 km (62 miles) northeast Iquitos, it has a one of the longest canopy walkways in the world with almost 500 meters-long and 40 meters-high, to observe closer birds, primates and spiders. Lodge is rustic but every room has private bathroom and mosquito nets. Also, WiFi is available. Varied and tasteful meals are included. They recommend a 5 day /4 night program. Rates start from USD 550 per person per night.
Further information: amazon@explorama.com ; www.explorama.com


HATUCHAY PACAYA SAMIRIA LODGE

Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge by Hatuchay is located in the buffer zone of the reserve.
Located on the left banks of the Marañón River, within the buffer zone of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve has eight confortable cottages built according to the local architecture with bathroom, shower and water. Most of their staff is descendants of the Kukama Kukamiria indigenous people and offer activities insider the reserve as walking, canoeing, fishing, birdwatching, visiting villages working on protecting natural resources and in October liberating baby taricayas (Podocnemis unifilis) into the river. Hatuchay is helping people of the nearby village of San Jorge in assess their Kukama culture and to be proud of it through their arts and language.
More information: www.hatuchayhotelsperu.com/pacaya-samiria/


...AND TWO OPTIONS IN LAGUNAS VILLAGE

A sloth, one of the species found in primary jungle.

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest government-protected areas in South America with its astonishing density of wildlife. Most of the authorized tour companies are based in Iquitos, but the small village of Lagunas, located on the left bank of the Marañón river opposite the reserve and 4 hours downstream from Yurimaguas city is a good place to start an expedition to this park. In Lagunas is possible to find two small local groups as ESTYPEL and Huayruro Tours that organize trips to pristine areas of the reserve for affordable rates, an option for those adventure and budget travelers in route to Iquitos by boat from Tarapoto and Yurimaguas. There are no banks in Lagunas, take cash in Yurimaguas. Most of the guides are Spanish-speaking. Required a minimum stay of 3 days and 2 nights suggested.
More information: ESTYPEL: www.estypel.com | Huayruro Tours: www.peruvianrainforest.com/en/

What do you think about these options?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Iquitos Hotels and hostels (accommodations)

Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazonia. This city offers more than 185 accommodations from a 5-star hotel to many economical hostels and budget dormitories. We have checked some registered accommodations and we have classified them according their price ranges for a single room as following: 


  • Luxury: Over S/. 180 Soles. 
  • Mid-range: S/. 90 to 180 Soles. 
  • Budget: Under S/. 90 Soles. 
  • Dormitory (shared room): S/. 20 Soles per person. 
These are our favourites, located at walking distance from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square):


LUXURY

1. El Dorado Plaza Hotel and Business. Jr. Napo 254-258. Modern looking is opposite the Plaza de Armas. The only 5-star hotel in Iquitos. It has a business centre, restaurant, bar, and pool. Rates are over S/. 550 Soles. 

2. Victoria Regia Hotel & Suites. Jr. Ricardo Palma 252. A 3-star hotel with the facilities of a 5-star. This is one of the best options for travellers looking for elegant facilities and an outstanding service. It is located within walking distance the Plaza de Armas, only 4 blocks away. Facilities include restaurant, café, pool, business centre, and more. Around S/. 200 Soles.

3. Samiria Jungle Hotel. Jr. Ricardo Palma 159. Located within walking distance from the Plaza de Armas (4 blocks away), is one of the two newest accommodations (join with Gran Marañón). It has pool, restaurant, and business centre. Around S/. 200 Soles.

4. El Dorado Isabel. Jr. Napo 362. One block from the Plaza de Armas, has pool, wifi, and restaurant. Around S/. 230 Soles.

MID-RANGE

1. Emperador Terraza Hotel Iquitos. Jirón Fitzcarrald 191. info@emperadorterraza.comLocated right off the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and one block from the Main Church in Iquitos, this small, charm and elegant hotel is situated close to the city’s famous historic buildings, museums, banks, ATMs, malls, and tourist services. Emperador Terraza features a classical and contemporary design, with 12 rooms with modern amenities including flat screen TV, air conditioner or electric fan, intercom, fitted closet, safe box, and private bathroom with shower. The hotel has 24-hour reception desk, room service, wireless Internet area, Internet PC (WIFI), luggage storage and specialized tourist information. Their staff is friendly, polite, helpful, and reliable; most of them speak pretty good English. They accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners cards. Rates include continental breakfast. Rates from S/. 70 to 140 Soles.

2. Terra Bella
www.terrabellaperu.comJr. Putumayo 442. A samll hotel located two blocks the Main Square, featuring 13 rooms with TV, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, minibar, private bathroom.

3. Casa Morey Hotel Boutique. Jr. Loreto 220. This building is a Historical Monument belonging to the Rubber Era (1879-1914). Was built on 1912, it is located 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas offers very spacious rooms, with a romantic, nineteen-century look. Has a library stocked with books on flora and fauna, and pool. Also, its hall has a collection of stuff of the Rubber Era in the Amazon. Ideal for history lovers. Rates from S/. 150 Soles.

4. Nativa Apartments. Jirón Nanay 144. Located four blocks from the Main Square, has 13 quiet, clean and confortable apartments, with air conditioning, WIFI, hot water, cable TV and kitchenette with microwave, glasses and fridge. Rates from S/. 180 Soles.

5. Gran Marañón. Jr. Loreto 446. Is one of the two newest accommodations (join with Gran Marañón), located only 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. It offers spacious facilities, business centre, wifi, restaurant, and pool. A good relationship between quality and rate.
Rates from S/. 130 Soles.

6. Marañón Hotel. Jr. Nauta 285-289. One block from the Plaza de Armas. Among the facilities are included wifi, restaurant, and pool.
Rates from S/. 100 Soles.

7. Acosta Hotel. Two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this is a small 3-star hotel. A good option if you are looking for some comfortable and reliable place.
Rates from S/.130 Soles.

8. La Casona Hotel. Clean and quiet, this 2-star hotel is half block from the Plaza de Armas. It has a shared kitchenette, courtyard, and a little library.
Rates from S/. 90 Soles.

9. Ambassador. Clean rooms and central location, three blocks from the Plaza de Armas.
Rates from S/. 90 Soles.

10. El Colibrí. A clean and good option at one block from the Plaza de Armas.

BUDGET

1. La Pascana.
2. Florentina.

DORMITORY

(S/.20 Soles per person on shared rooms)
 
1. Las Golondrinas. Putumayo block 10. Around 15-minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas, this is the only backpacker that has a pool in Iquitos. Rates from S/. 20 Soles.


To get a complete list of registered accommodations in Iquitos or Peru, please contact iPeru (iperuiquitos@promperu.gob.pe
).