Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Is one of the largest protected areas in Peru with an area of more than 20,000 km², containing a rich eco diversity and being the largest reserve in the country and the second largest in the Amazon region. The reserve is triangular shaped by Marañón and Ucayali River in the South, just before their junction originating the Amazon River. Its main purpose is to preserve the ecosystems of the Omagua Region and to promote the sustainable development of the local towns.
183 km / 114 miles southwest of Iquitos. The shortest route is Iquitos – Nauta by highway and then a trip on the river from Nauta to the village, Community of 20 de Enero, about three to four hours by boat. To be able to enter, you must request permission from INRENA and pay the corresponding fees. Comprising a large part of the provinces of Loreto, Requena, Ucayali, and Alto Amazonas, it has an area of 2’080.000 hectares making it the largest in the country and in South America. It is also known as the most extensive area of protected floodable forest (várzea) in the Amazon Rainforest. It is bordered by two large rivers: the Marañon in the north and the Ucayali – Puinahua Canal to the south.
Inside the reserve, there are three river basins: the Pacaya River basin, the Samiria River basin, and the Yanayacu-Pucate River basin. There are also numerous lakes, gorges, canals, and oxbows. It has an annual monthly temperature between 20°C (68°F) and 33°C (91°F) and an annual rain fall of 2000 to 3000 millimeters, which allows for its huge biodiversity: 527 bird species, 102 mammal species (among them the pink dolphin), 69 species of reptiles, 58 species of amphibians, 269 fish species, and 1024 species of wild and cultivated plants. The reserve is a refuge for different endangered species like the charapa turtle (Podocnemis expansa), the spider monkey (Ateles sp.), the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the red macaw (Ara Macao), cedar trees (Cederla odorata), and others. Furthermore, there are diverse protection and natural resource management projects like the one aimed at repopulating the taricaya and the charapa river with turtles in the artificial beaches of the reserve. It is truly amazing to watch the final stage of the process, the freeing of the newborns into the rivers, gorges, and lakes of the reserve. The level of involvement of the local population is remarkable. On the edges of Pacaya-Samiria on the banks of the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers, more than 42.000 people live grouped in ninety-four communities and another 50.000 inhabit the 109 villages in the buffer zone. Almost all of them make a living from fishing, farming, or hunting and wild fruit and greens picking.