Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

The Mirrored Jungle - Paradise for bird watchers




North forest, 347 feet above sea level (106 m.a.s.l.) - 180 km south of Iquitos.

627 miles (1,009km) from Lima, by air
615 miles (990 km) from Pucallpa, by river

Tropical humid, maximum temperature 99.9°F (37.7°C)
Temp. Minimum temperature 58.6°F (14.8 °C)
Rain season from November to March .

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About Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve

The Amazon river is 6,470 km (4,020 miles) long and the world's mightiest river. The Amazon Basin has the longest extension of rainforest in the world. 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 (vareza) in the Amazon Rainforest. It is bordered by two large rivers: the Marañón in the north and the Ucayali – Puinahua Canal to the south.


In 1982, the Peruvian Government established the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with the purpose of preserving the wilderness resources and the beautiful landscapes of the area. The Reserve has an area of 8,042 square miles, which represents 1.5% of the total surface of Peru.


Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is located in Peru, at 180 Km. (115 miles) south west of Iquitos.


The name of Pacaya Samiria comes from the names of two rivers that run through it: Pacaya and Samiria. The Reserve has a great diversity of wildlife as well as aquatic life: 449 bird species, 102 mammals, 69 reptiles, 58 amphibians, 256 fish and 1,204 plants. Threatened or endangered species that can be found in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve are the jaguar or otorongo (Panthera onca), the black alligator (Melanosuchus niger), the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), the manatee (Trichechus inunguis), four different species of primates and two different species of turtles.


An essential element that is characteristic of this protected area, is the cycle of crescent and reflux of the rivers. Between the months of October and April is the rainy season and the water of the rivers and creeks increases, flooding a large area of the rainforest. This time is known as crescent. Reflux takes place between May and September, when rain decreases greatly and the level of the water falls progressively, reaching its minimum in August. This seasonal change and the predominantly flat terrain have configured a landscape full of small rivers, creeks and lagoons.


Wildlife adapts with no problem to this cycle of crescent and reflux and so, when most of the rainforest remains flooded, animals find shelter in the highest areas, where water never reaches. During the reflux, when water is retained in small lakes and creeks, you can observe a large number of aquatic birds catching fishes which are concentrated there. During this time, large beaches are also formed specially in the main rivers, which are used by the settlers of the Reserve to grow rice, beans, peanuts, and other crops, and also by two very characteristic species of the Reserve, the "charapa" (Podocnemis expansa) and "taricaya" (Podocnemis unifilis) aquatic turtles, which use these beaches to lay their eggs.


In Pacaya Samiria, the great extension of rainforest remains flooded most of the year, with local species like the "aguaje", a palm tree (Mauritia flexuosa) whose fruits are eaten by many animals as well as by settlers of local communities. There are other numerous varieties of flora that make the landscape of the Reserve unique in this part of the Amazon. We can also find a great diversity of medicine plants and trees that can reach a height of 150 feet, like the "lupuna" (Ceiba pentandra). In certain areas, you can still find rubber trees which preserve the marks of the famous rubber exploitation over 80 years ago.


The wildlife of the Reserve is typical of the flooded rainforest, being more abundant the aquatic species rather than land ones. Fish is considered the most important resource due to its role in the ecological process as well as its economic value, and it is also a priority in the nutrition of the local people. There is an extensive variety of birds, specially the aquatic ones like the heron (Egretta thula) and cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). During the time of crescent, the high areas or "restingas" are the places for shelter and nourishment for mammals.


It is worth mentioning the "charapa" and "taricaya" aquatic turtles, which are considered endangered species. In order to prevent any illegal gathering, between the months of July and December, authorities of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve are responsible for the gathering of the eggs that the turtles deposit in the banks of the rivers allowing these eggs the proper incubation time and a better chance of survival for the little turtles. Also, the "paiche" (Arapaima gigas), one of the biggest fresh-water fish in the world, that can reach up to eight feet long. The demand for its exquisite meat has developed in an abuse for its hunting.


The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is part of the National System of Natural Areas and is protected by the Peruvian Government. Its administration is in hands of SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Protegidas) which has offices in Lima and Iquitos. According to the Master Plan for the Conservation of the Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, tourists have access only to determined zones of the Reserve -previous payment of an entrance fee.


In the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve there are 94 communities, 21 of them of the Cocama - Cocamilla ethnic group. The total population of the Reserve is 42,000 people and their main economic activities are centered around fishing, agriculture, gathering and hunting, being the first, their most important activity and main source of food. The closest towns to Pacaya Samiria are Nauta and Requena.

Source: Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge


How to get Pacaya Samiria

To get Pacaya Samiria, you need arrive to Iquitos City, daily flights from Lima. Then go by road Iquitos - Nauta (180 Km.). The port of Nauta is located in the confluence of Marañón and Ucayali river, where the Amazon River is born. In Nauta embarking in river boats or Amazon Cruise.


The visitors must to pay the entrance fee to National Reserve. Inside Pacaya Samiria there are not roads, the visit is limited to river boats.


The best way to visit Pacaya Samiria is an organized tour in a jungle lodge next to reserved area or camp inside Pacaya Samiria or combined Jungle Lodge with camp. Also an Amazon Cruises to Pacaya Samiria.


Recommendation: Visit only with a specialized and professional guide.


Recommended Tours - Pacaya Samiria


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