City of Iquitos, Peruvian Amazon
Iquitos was founded in 1757 by the Jesuits under the name of San Pablo de los Napeanos, the first river port on the Amazon River.
For much of the nineteenth century the region was kept apart from the rest of the country for their lack of access roads and the remoteness of their capital, and only in early 1880, with the start of the rubber boom, the area attracted the attention of many.
From being a small town, Iquitos experienced a significant increase in population, becoming a city of modern buildings and great commercial importance.
When the height of the rubber came to an end in 1914, the region had a hard hit in the 1970s, oil exploitation and forest resources gave new impetus to the regional economy. Currently the mainstay of its economy in Loreto is the exploitation of oil, timber, trade and ecotourism.
Weather and Travel Season
The Amazon has a tropical climate, with rainfalls along the year, high humidity and an average temperature of 29°C (85°F).
There are two stations: high river season, flood or creciente in Spanish (November till May) and the low river season or vaciante in Spanish (June till October):
Flood season. Water levels are very high, and most lowlands get underwater. In some cases it is very difficult to find dry land. It is easier to get deep jungle areas. Rivers usually are in their peak from March to May hence most of the activities in the jungle will be made by canoe or motorboat in order to explore the rivers and its surroundings. During this season are more probable to spot birds, primates and other mammals.
Dry season. Water levels are at their lowest level, and in some cases getting some jungle areas is harder. Also it is possible to make longer hikes and camp. It is easier to fish and it is easier to spot alligators and other reptiles.
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve
Objective: To conserve representative ecosystems of the low jungle of the Peruvian Amazon and to preserve its genetic diversity; to protect species of flora and fauna of the Amazon that have disappeared, such as the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), river wolf (Pteronura brasiliensis), paiche (Arapaima gigas), taricaya (Podocnemis unifilis), and jaguars (Panthera onca).
Reserve established: February 25, 1972.
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (PSNR) is composed of the provinces of Loreto, Requena, Alto Amazonas and Ucayali in the department of Loreto. It extends 2’080,000 hectares and is located in the Ucamara depression, where there is the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, which form their natural limits. The southwestern part is delimited by a strip of low hills that forms the watershed with the Huallaga River.
Its main objective is to conserve the resources of flora and fauna, as well as the scenic beauty characteristic of the humid tropical forest. The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is home to a high biological diversity and an important human population that lives from its natural resources. It includes in its interior the basins of the Pacaya, Samiria and Yanayacu-Pucate rivers. Although it is mostly a low alluvial and floodplain jungle plain, it has some low hills in the Pacaya springs.
This topography, added to the alternating hydrological regime of the growing and emptying Amazon, creates numerous islands, pipes and lakes (cochas). Among these which stands out, is famous El Dorado Cocha, located in the lower basin of the Yanayacu.
Its territories are centers of reproduction of several ichthyological species and it has zones with habitats of high fishing productivity. It also protects the area of the most extensive floodplain (varzea) in the Amazon. This gigantic wetland received its designation as one of the first RAMSAR sites in the country, in 1992.
In the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve there are numerous communities, both native and traditional. Its territory offers benefits to thousands of people in the area and in neighboring cities, as well as the possibility of developing a first class tourism to explore and discover the Peruvian Amazon.
Matsés National Reserve
Objective: Conservation of the existing natural resources in the Galvez, Tapiche, and Blanco rivers, in order to allow the Matsés population to continue with the traditional, permanent, and sustainable use of these rivers.
Date Established: August 26, 2009.
The Matsés National Reserve (MNR) is located in the districts of Yaquerana, Requena, and Soplin, in province of Requena, in the state of Loreto. It covers an area of 420,635.3 hectares.
The Matsés National Reserve is located in the Amazonian plain and has three large landscape units: hills, terraces and flood plains. Among its types of forest are those of white sand or white floored forest, those of the mainland and the flooded forests/ marshlands. In addition, its presence enables the existence of an uninterrupted binational biological corridor of more than three million hectares that includes the Sierra del Divisor Reserved Zone in Peru and three other protected natural areas in Brazil.
Likewise, the Matsés National Reserve hosts a very complete sample of the biological diversity of the forests of the Peruvian Amazon. It is estimated that it contains 22% of mammals, 46% of birds, 36% of amphibians, 38% of reptiles and 47% of the known fish for this region. It also has high socio-cultural and scientific values.
Its establishment implies the recognition of a wide territory that the native Matsés take advantage of ancestrally by means of the accomplishment of hunting, fishing, and harvesting routes-adjoining to their present communal territory.
Although there is still no infrastructure for tourism, there are various opportunities to reach a level that allows us to discover and learn about this undisturbed corner of our Amazon.