In the Peruvian Amazon, the Río Ucayali and Río Marañón share a mighty rainforest just before they combine to form the Amazon River. They border a region known as the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The largest protected natural area in Peru, with 5,139,680 acres - 10,800 square miles, it stands today as one of the most important wildernesses in all the tropics.
The Pacaya Samiria is home to some of the largest populations of wildlife in the entire Amazon. Hordes of pink and gray river dolphins, packs of howler and squirrel monkeys, massive flocks of brilliant macaws, huge lagoons covered in giant lily pads teeming with fish of all sizes and colors....all of these and more mark the region as Another World.
A visit to this awesome place is unlike anything you've ever experienced in your life. There are no lodges or fixed accommodations in the Pacaya Samiria or along the Río Tigre. Our riverboat is the best way to explore this remote forest in comfort. The reflection of hundreds of snow-white egrets flashes off of the black glassy lake. Not far from the boat pink dolphins surface briefly. Kingfishers skim along the shoreline in search of fish. Overhead, macaws flying in pairs call out their distinctive "screech."As our small boat moves slowly along, troops of monkeys are seen swinging through the trees. Our guide spots a sloth high up in a cecropia tree. Birds of all sizes and colors flit through the air. Colorful groups of butterflies hover near the undergrowth on shore. This is the "Espejo de la Selva" – the mirror of the jungle – the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve of Peru.
This protected area contains 85 lakes which are home to 250 species of fish as well as both pink and gray fresh-water dolphins. In the jungle and flooded forest of the reserve 132 mammal species, including 13 types of primates, 449 bird species and 150 reptile and amphibian species have been documented. With three distinct eco-systems in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve this region has the largest variety of flora in Peru, including 22 species of orchids.
The region was originally designated a protected area in 1940 and became a National Reserve in 1972. A number of ranger stations were set up to enforce Reserve laws and monitor wildlife.The objectives of the Reserve are to foster research, provide protection for all species of wildlife, foster socioeconomic assistance for the local people, provide for the sustainable utilization of rainforest resources and develop eco-tourism. The Nature Conservancy of Peru plays a major role in meeting these goals. One of their successful programs is turtle conservation... providing for egg collection, hatching and release of these endangered animals. To date they have released over 500,000 turtle hatchlings.
Eco-tourism plays an important role through the collection of an entrance fee that helps support the various conservation programs and promoting awareness of the wildlife and plant resources within the reserve in need of continued protection.
A visit into the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is not soon forgotten.