Big is Beautiful – The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

The first thing you need to know about the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR) is that it’s big. Seriously big. Over 8,000 square miles big. Bigger than Slovenia big.

The second thing you need to know about the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is that it contains some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. As a part of the Amazon rainforest, it is home to 527 bird species, over 100 mammal species, 69 species of reptiles, 58 species of amphibians and 269 species of fish. This includes several endangered species, such as the charapa turtle, the spider monkey, giant river otter and red macaw.

The reserve is located in northeast Peru, in the Ucamara depression, where the Ucayali and Marañón Rivers come together to form the Amazon River. The majority of its territory is floodable jungle, with various islands and lagoons (cochas). It is one of Peru’s 72 natural protected areas.

About 42,000 people live within the boundaries of Pacaya-Samiria, comprising 94 communities. Most of the reserve’s inhabitants make their living by fishing or farming, though today many are involved in conservation projects that have been designed to provide the communities with a sustainable source of revenue. One great example is the program currently in place to conserve the Taricaya river turtles. You can read more about it here.

Tourism within Pacaya-Samiria is highly regulated, and in order to visit, you must be in the company of a guide or travel operator who is registered with the Peruvian government. Fortunately, there are plenty of those, and ample opportunity for you to explore this remarkable area in the heart of the Amazon.

Sailing along the rivers, you can see manatees, pink dolphins and monkeys, as well as a massive variety of birds, mammals and fish. There are various lodgings within the reserve and the surrounding areas that offer everything from basic amenities to exclusive services.

A visit to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is not easily forgotten. There simply are not many other places in the world where nature remains virtually untouched, and blooms so bountifully.