Parque Nacional Tingo MarĂa (Tingo Maria National Park), located about six kilometers (3.7 mi) south of town and easily reached by mototaxi, covers an area of approximately 18,000 hectares (44,479 ac). It was declared a national park on May 14, 1965, becoming the second such area in Peru to receive this designation.
Rich in flora and fauna, and with a number of tourist attractions, the park offers days of exploration to the leisurely visitor. The Bella Dormiente (Sleeping Beauty) range and the Cueva de las Lechuzas (Cave of the Owls) are the parkâ€™s main draws, but they are certainly not the only sites worth investigating. The Cueva de Las Pavas (Cave of the Turkeys) is a popular spot as well. The name is slightly misleading, as the "cave" in question is actually formed by trees reaching over the valley floor, creating a roof over the stream running below. The area was once inhabited by wild turkeys, hence the "Pavas.â€ť
A stone path leads along one bank of the creek, winding its way from one pool to the next. Here, you can take a dip with the locals, a great way to escape the heat of Tingo Maria. Keep an eye out for the â€śGoddess of the Water,â€ť a rock formation in the shape of a woman. Locals head to the Aguas Sulfurosas de Jacintillo (Sulfurous Waters of Jacintillo) to bathe in its curative waters, said to be beneficial for skin and stomach complaints. The pool also attracts guĂˇcharos (Oilbirds) and monkeys in the evenings. The Catarata de San Miguel is the most impressive waterfall in the region, rushing down a worn-smooth outcrop of rock and plunging over 200 meters (656 ft). To reach the waterfall, you will need to trek through the hills and streams of the park; allow at least two hours for the walk.
Wherever you go in the park, be on the lookout for the regionâ€™s non-human inhabitants. The Tingo Maria National Park is home to more than 100 different species of animals, many of which are endangered due to poaching and illegal trading. Mammals include the tapir, peccary, jaguar, Three-toed Sloth and the Pichico Monkey. Birdlife includes macaws, parrots, guĂˇcharos and the jungle condor. A variety of snakes and other reptiles can also be seen, alongside a plethora of weird and wonderful insects.
More than 140 different types of flora had been identified within the park. Trees include various palms and important timber-tree species such as cedrela (of the mahogany family) and bolaina. Also of note is the huasaĂ tree, famous for its berries and known more commonly throughout the world by its Brazilian name, aĂ§ai. Tingo Maria is also orchid territory, and the park is home to about 30 different species. The park's guides can also point out some of the local medicinal plants. The bark and roots of the UĂ±a de Gato plant (Catâ€™s Claw) are prepared as a tea for the treatment of various ailments, particularly intestinal complaints, while the blood-like resin of Sangre de Grado is used to treat wounds and skin complaints.
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