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PACAYA SAMIRIA-
A MAJOR SITE TO BE EXPLORED

PACAYA SAMIRIA National Reserve was created by the Peruvian government in February 1982, with a surface area of 2'080,000 hectares. It represents approximately 6% of the territory of the LORETO Region and 1.5% of Peru's total national surface, forming the most extensive protected floodplain forest area in the Amazon.

PACAYA SAMIRIA National Reserve is located in northeast Peru. Politically it belongs to the LORETO Region and geographically it comprises part of the provinces of Requena, Alto Amazonas and Ucayali.

The Reserve is in the UCAMARA depression, at the confluence of the two great rivers, the Ucayali and Maraņon, that form its boundaries. The southwestern area is bounded by a range of low hills forming the watershed with the Huallaga river basin. Within this area there are three distinct water basins, those of Samiria, Pacaya and Yanayacu-Pucate, where there are several ranger stations, as well as numerous canyons, cochas (pools) and resacas (beaches).

One of the most notable features of the Reserve is its hydrography, and the river flooding and ebbing dynamics. This produces a great diversity of wild flora and fauna and a great richness of water life; up to the present, 443 species of birds, 97 of mammals, 55 of amphibians, 259 of fish and 1,039 vegetable species have been recorded. These have especially been found in the great stretches of forest that remain flooded over a major part of the year, and particularly in the "bosques de aguaje" or "aguajales" and the mixed palm forests. The "pungales" and "renacales" are other formations of vegetation that contribute to the uniqueness of the landscape in this part of the Amazon.

It should be pointed out that the Reserve harbors endangered fauna species such as the Black Lizard (melanosuchus niger), the Manatee (trichechus inunguis), the Charapa (podocnemis expansa), the Red Guacamayo (ara macao) and the Piura (crax globulosa).

Fish are the most important natural resource of the Reserve, as much for their role in ecological processes as for their economic value, and the fact that they are the staple food of the local inhabitants.

To access this major Reserve, located 183 km southwest of the city of Iquitos, it is necessary to get to the city, which possesses an international airport. Afterwards, one must locate a travel agency to provide transport and guide services, bearing in mind the important recommendation that it should be carefully chosen, since once the contract has been signed, the agency will have to obtain the corresponding permit from the INRENA, without which you will not be able to enter the Reserve. To get there, you will have to sail up the Amazon river first, then the Maraņon, up to the district of 20 de Enero (15 hours by ordinary boat or 4 by skid-craft), from which you will be able to enter the Reserve; on entry you must check-in at the control posts, to verify your identity and the authenticity of the permit granted in Iquitos. Bear in mind that no large-bore hunting guns are allowed, and you may only take along steel blade weapons or a shotgun for defense purposes only.

There are several native communities living on the Reserve, notably the COCAMA ethnos, who have an agency in the city of Iquitos (called ASIENDES, Asociacion Indigena en Defensa del Samiria), that will provide advice on transport, guide services, food and lodging, which have all been developed by them; the services they offer are quite adequate, and have the added advantage of their deep local knowledge of the places you may want to visit for different activities. If you decide to use their services, you should enter by Watch Post N° 1, and go to the Cocama settlement of San Martin de Tipishca, where you will be lodged in a Tambo, or native house, with certain basic services, that you can use as a base for any activity you choose within the enormous range of activities offered by this "jewel of nature", such as:

- Bird watching.
- Dolphin sighting.
- Fishing in the rivers and ponds in the area.
- Jungle walks.
- Studying the community and living inside it.
- Mammal sighting.
- Photography.
- Crocodile sighting.

Bear in mind that the food you will eat on the Reserve is the traditional food in this area, so if you prefer, you may take along your own food. However, the traditional diet in this area is fresh fish, yucca, plantain and some rice. This is a well-balanced diet and, above all, prepared with loving care by this ethnic group, who by dint of their effort have gained a place among the agencies that offer this service with greater sophistication and at a higher cost.

You are hereby invited to visit the Reserve, which will receive you with open arms, offering you the best of the Amazon, a unique are of the planet with its flood-prone forests, large variety of flora and fauna and its pristinely pure environment, almost free from contamination by civilization.


 
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