An Introduction to Peru's Amazon Rainforest
Although throughout the world jungles have existed for hundreds of millions of years, it is only within the last 100 years that they have been on the decline. It has been estimated that during the course of the last century we have managed to destroy half of the world's rainforest and, based on current forecasts, we look set to destroy the rest within the next 25 years unless we dramatically do something to stop this destruction.
Over the last 20 years the practice of eco-tourism has developed throughout Peru. If the money that it generates is used responsibly and pumped back into local economies and conservation projects this form of managed tourism may well prove to be one of the few counter-destructive economic forces available in preserving the jungle. As more people visit the jungle and learn about its flora and fauna more people will become involved in the race to save them. Local people and governments will also see that the long term value of the rainforest may be worth more if the rainforest remains intact.
Peru currently has roughly 5 percent of its territory protected by a system of around 50 national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and other designated areas, a process which has developed extremely well since it was begun in the 1960s. Two of these protected areas, the Manu Biosphere Reserve and the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, can be found in Peru's southern jungle while the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve can be found in the northern jungle and accessed from Iquitos.
The Southern Jungle
Puerto Maldonado. >> more info >>
A number of jungle lodges in the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone offer an excellent alternative for those travelers who don't have the time or money to visit Manu. This giant reserved zone contains some of the richest rainforest in the world and includes the entire watershed of the Rio Tambopata which is currently at the forefront of tropical rainforest conservation. Access is from Puerto Maldonado ( half an hours' flight from Cusco) >> more info >>
No other park in the world can equal Manu for species richness. Over 1000 birds have been identified, 15000 plants and 13 species of monkey as well as millions of insects. In Manu there are healthy populations of jaguar, tapir, black caiman and the giant otter. These animals have not been subjected to widespread hunting as they have in many other jungle areas and are therefore less fearful of humans, increasing the possibility of actually catching a glimpse of them. Access to the Manu Biosphere Reserve is from Cusco, traveling with one of the recognized Manu Agencies. >> more info>>
The Northern Jungle
Iquitos is the northern gateway to the Peruvian Amazon basin. Most tour operators offer trips of at least 2 days, a blend of jungle lodge, camping, and jungle trekking. The protected Pacaya - Samiria National Reserve is located 120km by river from Iquitos and is not usually visited by organized tours although some local tourist agencies can help you with making travel arrangements. Notable wildlife found in the Reserve includes the paiche fish which, weighing as much as 300kg and measuring up to 3m long, is the world's largest freshwater fish. Pink dolphin, giant river turtles, the manatee, black caiman, giant otters, black spider monkeys, common wooly monkeys and many species of Amazon birds can also be observed. One of the most popular jungle lodges is the ExploNapo lodge run by Explorama Tours. Close to the lodge is the famous canopy trail, a system of suspended walkways more than 30m from the jungle floor, allowing a unique viewing experience in the tropical jungle. >> more info >>
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