alking in the forest, navigating a river, listening to those
"voices" of the hidden animals in the woodland, seeing the red eyes of a caiman shining in the darkness or the blinding plumage of a bird flying on the surface of a lagoon, all bring their own sense of adventure and emotion.
In Madre de Dios, the traveller has plentiful opportunities to get to know some of the most beautiful corners of the Amazon Rainforest. Your voyage in these green lands begins in the small city of Puerto Maldonado - Tambopata,
the department's capital, famous for its impressive sunsets.
In the city
Founded at the end of the 19th century, Puerto Maldonado - Tambopata
is known as the "Capital of Biodiversity." Discreet, hot and small, this Amazon city is located between the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers.
Its most important attractions are
Lake Sandoval, a small paradise just 8 kilometers from the city; and Lake Valencia, 60
kilometers away, where fish such as "the golden one" ("El Dorado") and the "Maiden" ("La Doncella") can be caught. There is also the town of Laberinto ("Labyrinth") which as its name suggests, is chaotic and disordered.
MANU BIOSPHERE RESERVE
he Manu Biosphere Reserve is 1´881,200 hectares in area, and is divided into three sections, Manu National Park, Manu Reserved Area,
where research and tourist activities are carried out, and the Multiple Use Area, where there are human settlements and where environmental activities are developed.
Manu's environment has been unchanged for thousands of
years, thus allowing more species of plants and animals to evolve here than in any other similar area in the world. Numerous species threatened with extinction are protected in the Reserve, such as the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana)- the National bird of Peru, the Orinoco goose (Neochen jubata), the Common Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha), and felines like the jaguar or "otorongo" (Felis onca) and the ocelot (Felis pardalis).
The so called "Colpa" of the Macaws is one of the biggest
attractions in Manu. The "colpa" is a mineral-rich earth formation, which numerous wild animals -among them the noisy, colourful macaws - feed on to supplement their normal diet.
esearch carried out over the last 14 years has found this area, with over one million square hectares, to have an astonishingly high biological diversity. There are 575 species of bird, 1,200 species of butterflies, 103 species of dragonflies, 135 types of arboreal ants, 103 types of mammals, over 60 kinds of amphibians, 67 types of reptiles, 5 species of turtles and tortoises, 4 of crocodile and 22 of small lizard. Finally 94 species of fish have also been identified!
Futhermore researchers have concluded that there are intact populations of species like the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the South American bush dog (Speothos venaticus), the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) and the Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) in this area, all of them threatened with extinction.
Another of Tambopata-Candamo's
attractions is the richness of its flora, as nearly 1400 species exist in the area. Indeed two 1 hectare sections of the reserve have been identified as amongst the richest pieces of land in the world, with one of them boasting 187 species of trees with a diameter greater than 2.5 centimeters, and the second one 207 species of plants, including trees, vines, bushes and aerophytes.
BUHUAJA-SONENE NATIONAL PARK
reated on July 17th, 1996, this National Park
includes part of the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Area
and the territory of the old Pampas del Heath National Sanctuary.
The area offers great potential for the protection of species since there are no permanent human settlements, so there are species found here which are extinct in other areas of the Amazon, such as the "sachavaca" or tapir (Tapirus terrestris) and the "maquisapa" or spider monkey (Ateles Paniscus).
In Bahuaja-Sonene, mammals like the marsh deer (Odocoileus dichotomus) and the biggest canine in the Amazon, the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), are protected. The park is also a refuge for birds, as it is home to 450 species, 17 of which are endemic to Peru.