Did you know that more than 60% of the Peruvian territory is made up of jungle? For this reason, when we think about visiting the Amazon, it can be difficult for us to choose the destination that we would most like to visit. To help you a little with the decision, today we are going to tell you about one of the most exciting destinations in Iquitos and the jungle of Peru: the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.
Pacaya Samiria is the second largest protected area in Peru. It is a paradise for nature lovers, with a biodiversity that manifests itself in more than 1,000 species of animals and 965 species of wild plants.
This humid, tropical and floodable forest is an autonomous and exemplary ecosystem, which houses lagoons such as the El Dorado lake and native communities that have experiential tourism as one of their main means of subsistence.
The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is located in the department of Loreto, 308 kilometers from the city of Iquitos. This place occupies more than 20,000 square kilometers and is one of the largest reserves in the entire Amazon. In addition, in 2015 it was named the second best place in the world for wildlife, so its fauna and flora are simply amazing.
Pacaya Samiria, classified as a humid tropical floodplain forest, is a paradise for nature lovers. In your days in the jungle you will feel like a true adventurer traveling through incomparable landscapes and navigating the rivers that flow into the Amazon. And the best of all this is the company: a wide variety of mysterious animals and striking plants.
The diversity of Pacaya Samiria is exciting: up to 1,000 animal species and 965 plant species have been found in this national reserve. In every corner of Pacaya Samiria you will find something new that will make you fall in love with this place at every turn.
Among all these species, the paiche stands out, the largest freshwater fish in the entire Amazon, which is used as one of the main ingredients in the cuisine of the area. Don’t leave Pacaya Samiria without trying a plate of this delicious fish!
This national reserve has countless activities to do: you can spend an afternoon fishing to get your own food, as well as excursions through rivers inhabited by alligators, take a bath in enigmatic lagoons or sleep under a real blanket of stars.
Although we know that once you arrive in Pacaya Samiria you will want to stay for weeks exploring the deepest corners of the jungle, we are also aware that the time tourists have to visit this destination is usually limited.
For this reason, we are going to tell you about the main places that you have to know when you visit this national reserve.
Crossing the waters of the Marañón River: one of the main axes of Pacaya Samiria is the Marañón River, a large tributary of the Amazon that will become your highway during the days you are in the jungle. Take advantage of the trip you will make along this river to the different tourist attractions of the jungle to meet the inhabitants of the Marañón, such as alligators, turtles and piranhas.
The magic of Laguna El Dorado: although in this area of Peru you will find a large number of lagoons, such as those of Yarina, Fortuna and Ungurahui, among all of them El Dorado stands out, a place where you will see one of the best sunsets of your life.
Lake Yanta Adventure: One of the destinations with the most activities to choose from is Lake Yanta, a place where you can take a hike, receive a master class on plant identification, enjoy an entertaining canoe ride or jump to its waters in a bath with the most beautiful landscape of your life. Choosing what you prefer to do will be a difficult choice!
Visit to a native community: in Pacaya Samiria there are more than 200 population centers inhabited by around 120,000 people. The way of life of these families is totally different from our day to day, so it is very enriching to visit them and learn all about their customs.
A cruise in the middle of the jungle: who said that a trip to the jungle could not be synonymous with luxury? Some companies offer an experience at another level, getting to know the jungle from the comfort of a cruise ship. You can navigate the waters of Pacaya Samiria aboard a large boat and make stops at some tourist attractions in the national reserve. A different way to explore the Peruvian Amazon.
Animal sighting: as we have mentioned before, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is one of the areas of Peru with the greatest diversity of fauna. In places like Quebrada Yanaquillo you can meet such curious animals as squirrel monkeys and adorable sloth bears. In addition, in Yanaquillo there are the giant Lupuna trees, with up to 70 meters in height.
When you walk through Pacaya Samiria you cannot miss any detail, pay close attention because in the blink of an eye you can find the most impressive animals walking, swimming or flying around you.
A night walk through the jungle: if it is already exciting to walk the depths of the jungle during the day, imagine doing it at night with practically no light. This experience, only suitable for the most adventurous, will test your courage and let you get to know the Amazon from an even more enigmatic and intrepid point of view.
Although the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is quite far from Iquitos, the best way to reach it is through this city in the Peruvian jungle.
To do this, the first thing you have to do is go to Iquitos by plane or boat. These are the only means of transport you can get there as this is the largest city in the world without road access.
Once in Iquitos, you must go to Nauta. In this small port town you will get on a boat where the real adventure begins: for 35 minutes you will cross the waters of the Marañón River, one of the tributaries of the Amazon, in one of those experiences that are recorded in memory for life .
As it happens with practically all the excursions to the Peruvian jungle, to get to know Pacaya Samiria you must hire a tour and do this entire trip with the help of a specialized guide. This is mandatory since the jungle is a very difficult place to navigate, with very similar and complicated paths to follow without getting lost.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.