Situated in the northeastern corner of the Peruvian Amazon, the Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo has been designated as a reserve in 1991 to protect the habitat of the rare red uakari monkey. Subsequent scientific research has found the reserve to be one of the richest 'biodiversity hot-spots' of the worlds with a large variety of plants, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Particularly the reserve's mammal diversity exceeds that of any other region in all of the Amazon, with the number of primate species being the highest of any protected park or reserve in the world. See our featured trip to Tahuayo Lodge
Located centrally towards the eastern slopes of the Andes, this huge reserve comprising some 2,080,000 hectares, is one of the Amazon's richest wildlife habitats. During the rainy season, between December and March much of it turns into swampland. There are now two lodges in the reserve, Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge, and Jungle Expeditions. It is also possible to make independent arrangements. Full jungle camping equipment including ample food supplies and mosquito repellent are necessary. Once in the park no supplies can be obtained. It is best to hire a guide in Lagunas. There are now also a couple of cruise companies that make tours to the reserve. See our tours to the Pacaya Samiria Reserve
Manu Biosphere Reserve, in the southwestern region of the Amazon, is perhaps the most famous National Park of Peru. It is the largest protected area within this country, and boasts perhaps the greatest biodiversity anywhere in the Amazon (if not on the planet). The varieties of fauna and flora that can be observed in this incredible wildlife sanctuary are too numerous to mention. Giant otters, black and white caiman, macaws, tapirs, numerous species of monkeys and birds, jaguars and other cats can frequently be observed. As for plants...there are literally thousands of different species. The guides accompanying the tours give an interesting insight into the ecology of Manu and its many inhabitants. They are also well versed in the traditional uses of many of the plants.
The almost 2 million hectares that comprise Manu National Park are divided
into 3 sections:
There ise only one lodge within the reserved zone and another couple in the cultural zone. Access to the reserved zone is by organized tour only to as a way of protecting the environment as much as possible. The reserved zone can only be reached by bus and boat or by light aircraft. There is another lodge in the cultural zone where independent stays are possible. Several tour organizers offer regular low-impact camping trips to Manu. Special educational workshops and expeditions can be arranged. (See our ' featured camping trips to Manu').
Further Information about the world heritage site:Manu World Heritage Site
Tambopata Reserve, located in the southern department of Madre de Dios is somewhat more accessible than Manu. This is another jungle reserve, comprising mainly lowland forest along the Tambopata river. It is possible to arrange independent expeditions in Puerto Maldonado, by hiring a guide and all the necessary equipment. However, it is probably easier to visit one of the many lodges located in and around the reserve. These offer various packages for 3 - 7 days stays, which include several expeditions to remote areas with knowledgeable guides. (see 'featured trips to Tambopata). The flora and fauna that can be experienced here is similar to that of Manu, though Manu also includes montane rainforest habitats, and thus has a greater species diversity.
This vast national park area, located in the central Andes, is one of the best areas for hiking, trekking and mountain climbing. It comprises almost the entire range of La Cordillera Blanca and offers many trails which can be hiked independently or with a group or guide. A permit should be obtained from the park office in Huaraz. It is advisable to inquire locally about trail conditions and the current political situation in the area which you want to visit. Detailed information and maps, as well as specific guide books can be obtained from the office of the South America Explorers Club in Lima (see 'resources'). Whilst Huaraz (the most obvious base for expeditions to this area) is only about 3000m above sea-level, many of the most spectacular peaks of the Cordillera Blanca are well over 6000m above sea-level. Hikers should spend a few days acclimatizing to the high altitude. A particular attraction for plant enthusiasts are the Puya Raymondi (Pourretia gigantea) plants, which grow up to 12 meters high and live for about 40 years. The largest member of the bromeliad family, these plants grow only at an altitude of between 3700m and 4200m and are endemic to this region. They are most spectacular in May, when they are in full bloom.
More Information on this protected area:
Machu Picchu, the most famous of all ancient ruins and the most visited tourist destination of South America is a designated archeological zone. Whilst guards abound they seem to do little to protect this stunning sacred place against the damage done by hordes of tourists that trek there on a daily basis. Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas are not protected national park zones, but they offer some of the most beautiful hikes in Peru, which can be explored both independently or with a guided tour. Whichever way you go, please leave only footprints and take only memories (and a few photographs perhaps). The popularity of this area is rapidly proving its downfall, as careless tourists contribute to its degradation rather than to its preservation. Sacred Earth has now found a reputable and consciencious partner in Peru through whom we now offer Inca Trail hikes. This company not only takes an active role in the conservation of this legendary trail, but also pays the porters a fair wage. Tours are guided by experienced and well qualified naturalist guides. (See more information on our Machu Picchu tours)
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A penisula, situated on the southern coast in the department of Ica, close to the Nazca lines. This area is particularly good for watching marine wildlife, such as sea lions, penguins, pelicans, flamingos and a host of other birds and animals. Though its location on the coastal desert makes it rather devoid of plant life. Tours to the islands of the coast (Ballestas Islands) offer a particularly satisfying opportunity for marine wild life viewing. See our featured tours to Paracas Reserve and Nazca Lines
Situated about 90 km inland from Nasca, this reserve is a natural habitat sanctuary for the famous Vicuña Llamas. A permit is required to visit the reserve. Alternatively it is possible to go with an organized tour from Nasca.
Close to Nazca, about 6km south of Mejia is the little known lagunas de Mejia Nature Reserve. These lakes cover an area of about 700 hectares, separated from the coast by just a sandbar, are thus an important habitat for coastal and migratory birds. A great place for bird watching, especially in the early morning.
Situated in truly stunning scenery, this canyon claims to be the deepest Canyon in the world, deeper even than the Grand Canyon. This place, though not officially designated a National Park, is a 'must visit ' destination for any nature lover. Many species of wild life, including the Andean Condor can be observed here. It is best appreciated by taking a few days to hike and camp in the Canyon itself, rather than just driving around the rim per organized tour. There are several indigenous communities, which have lived here for thousands of years virtually unchanged. See Arequipa and Colca Canyon tour in our featured trips.
North of Lima, along the Panamerican Highway, lies the Reserva Nacional Lomas De Lachay. This reserve is a 5000 hectares protected Lomas habitat (the plants here thrive on moisture from the air, rather than from ground water or rainfall). It is best seen between June and December, when it is in full bloom. Many species of birds, mammals and reptiles can be observed here.
Located just outside the jungle town of Iquitos in Amazonian Peru this Garden has been created as a refuge for medicinal plants and as a teaching center for local and international visitors. Currently there are over a thousand species of cultivated medicinal plants.
Visit their website: SACHAMAMA
A somewhat obscure garden on the other side of Yarina Cocha. Can only be reached by boat. There is usually a guide who shows visitors around and explains the actions of the plant.