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.


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.


  • 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.


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); ; ;