Sitting a hefty journey south of Iquitos in a flooded rainforest between the Ucayali and MaraÃ±Ã³n Rivers, Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria is the largest and one of the best conserved protected areas in Peru. Conservation in the area began in the 1940s and the reserve was extended to its present size in 1982. This pristine patch of rainforest and wetlands is nearly twice the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States and comprises nearly 1.5 percent of Peruâ€™s total surface area.
Characterized by the convergence of rivers and waterways, this intriguing landscape is home to a host of flora and fauna, including black caimans, pink dolphins, giant river turtles, Amazon manatee, tapir, 12 species of monkeys and the endangered paiche fish. To break it down for you, this nearly two-million-hectare (almost 5 million ac) section of rainforests boasts approximately 100 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, 250 kinds of fish and 22 species of orchids. Did we mention the giant water lilies large enough to hold a small child?
In fact, Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samira has more wildlife than Parque Nacional Manu, and is thus a great place for plant and animal fanatics. One of the best times to visit is between July and December when various creatures can be spotted catching some rays on the riverbanks. A number of colonists and indigenous tribes also live in the reserve, including the Cocamas, Huitotos, Boras and Yaguas Indians.
Getting to Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria is a challenge, and certainly requires more than the simple hop-skip-and-a-jump. Its relative remoteness, however, is what helps keep this place unspoiledâ€”something to keep in mind when you're up to your neck in travel-weary woes. Visitors must come with a guided tour, so your best bet is to book a tour with one of the agencies in Iquitos. Although no official lodging or campgrounds exist in the reserve, most guides can help you find a dry spot to pitch a tent.
Camping and canoeing through the reserve is a spectacular experience, especially if you're keen to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of jungle life. You may also want to look into arranging a stay at one of the community-based lodges located within the reserve. A number of tour companies have packages to the area. The following are some of the most reliable: Paseo AmazÃ³nicos, ProNaturaleza and Pascana Amazon Tours. You can also arrange to stay at the inviting Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge.
book a tour with an agency
Birdwatching, Hiking, Trekking
Peruvian nuevo sol, US dollar