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San Fernando National Reserve, where the sea meets the Andes

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San Fernando National Reserve, where the sea meets the Andes

The San Fernando National Reserve is a large area of biological diversity full of impressive places. Without a doubt, the perfect destination for nature lovers. 

The San Fernando National Reserve is so rich that it is considered the second most important in Peru - which protects marine spaces - after the Paracas National Reserve. If one visits it, one will be able to appreciate scenes as amazing as that of the Andean condor descending the hills to the marine strip, encouraged by the vegetation of the hills and the species that live in the surroundings. But this is just one of the reasons to visit this Protected Natural Area (ANP), the San Fernando National Reserve has a lot to surprise visitors with. 

Throughout its extension, the San Fernando reserve is home to a great diversity of marine life and different bays, beaches, rivers and even forests. For this reason, it is the perfect place to interact with the local flora and fauna. Do you want to know this important national reserve? Know all the details below. 

Location

District of Santiago in the province of Ica and in the districts of Changillo, Nazca and San Juan de Marcona, in the province of Nazca, in the department of Ica. 

Extension

154,716.37 hectares. 

Creation

Created on July 9, 2011 and located one hour from the city of San Juan de Marcona, Nasca province, it has more than 154,000 hectares made up of geographies as different as deserts and estuaries, riverside forests and hills. . Its geographical diversity has made it home to dozens of iconic species from the coast and the mountains. Otters, sea lions and Humboldt penguins (the latter in a vulnerable conservation status) share territory with guanacos, kestrels and foxes. This paradise becomes a window through which to admire them. 

Biodiversity 

The San Fernando National Reserve is the second in the country that protects a part of the Peruvian sea and its diversity of species. It is made up of five ecosystems, among which are herbaceous hills, coastal desert, islands, islets, cliffs and rocks. It is divided into two very different sectors from each other. The northern part takes place in a relatively accessible surface, formed by the mouths of the Ica and Grande rivers. Surrounding sandy beaches, riparian forests, and seasonal wetlands bring it to life.

The southern part includes the San Fernando cove, the coastal hills and the cliffs of the highest hill on the Peruvian coast, the Huasipara hill with an altitude of 1790 meters above sea level. 

The San Fernando cove is a natural wonder, since it is a unique geographical accident on the Peruvian coast. It is made up of two points or peninsulas that project into the sea and are very close to each other (parallel) with a large islet in the center. This area is relatively isolated and rarely visited. Only in the last decade, the flow of visitors has increased considerably.

Seven Ecosystems

If you were looking for a destination to relax and enjoy in harmony with nature, you already have an unbeatable alternative. This summer you can discover, in one place, seven ecosystems: desert; estuary; tillandsial; forest (dry and riparian); herbaceous coastal hills; marine (pelagic and benthic); islands, islets, cliffs and rocks. 

The maximum temperature varies between 26 ºC and 34 ºC, so don't forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, as well as binoculars so you don't miss any detail of the privileged landscape, swimwear and a windbreaker jacket. 

Also, make sure that your cell phone or camera has enough memory space because you will want to take photos of each landscape and species of fauna and flora that inhabits the reserve of more than 150,000 hectares (see the map). 

What to see in the San Fernando National Reserve?

The San Fernando National Reserve is an excellent place to meet coastal, marine and mountain fauna. The activities most carried out by its visitors are hiking, marine diving, sport fishing, bike rides through the dunes and other activities closely linked to ecotourism. Río Grande, for example, houses a geological park in the surroundings of Cerro Huaricangana, whose top on the edge of the sea offers a unique biological diversity and beautiful panoramic views. In addition, it is located just under two hours by car from Nasca, which also makes it an excellent point of passage on a tour of southern Peru.

The San Fernando National Reserve comprises two very different sectors. On the north side there is a relatively accessible area, made up of the mouths of the Ica and Grande rivers, which color the great Ica desert with its riverside forests. There are also some sandy beaches where seasonal wetlands form near Punta Caballas. In the southern part it includes the San Fernando cove, the coastal hills and the inaccessible cliffs of Cerro Huasipara. This hill is the highest on the Peruvian coast (1790 meters above sea level).

The San Fernando cove, protagonist of the protected area, is a unique geographical accident on the Peruvian coast. It is made up of two points or peninsulas that project into the sea and are very close to each other (parallel) with a large islet in the center. It concentrates a rich marine and marine-coastal biological diversity, including sea lions, otters, penguins and cetaceans. In the same way, in the area there is typical fauna of the mountains represented by guanacos and condors that descend almost to the marine strip.

The Reserve is the second natural protected area (after the Paracas National Reserve) that protects maritime areas in an area where upwellings in the sea and the resulting biological diversity, marine currents, relict forests, hills, reefs and other geographical accidents, the winds, the scenic beauty, the archaeological values and the isolation, are concentrated, originating priority places for conservation.

Weather 

The maximum temperature varies between 26 - 34 °C (summer) and 16 - 26 °C (winter).

Tourist Routes 

The San Fernando cove is the main tourist attraction of the place due to its landscape values and its high biological diversity. Tourism is increasing in the area, especially in the area of Punta Caballas.

The Rio Grande is home to a geological park in the surroundings of Cerro Huaricangana, whose top on the edge of the sea offers a unique biological diversity and beautiful panoramic views. 

Authorization

With prior authorization from the headquarters of the San Fernando National Reserve, you can do sport fishing, diving, sandboarding, cycling, enjoy the beach and even camp in front of the bay, among other activities. 

In the southern zone, for example, the visitor will be accompanied by local artisanal fishermen to go to authorized fishing spots and enjoy experiential tourism, which will undoubtedly motivate them to want to return with their family. 

To obtain entry authorization you must contact the RNSF headquarters through social networks (rnsanfernando, on Instagram; and San Fernando-Sernanp National Reserve, on Facebook), email efuentes@sernanp.gob.pe or cell phone 968218448. 

The recommendation is to do it with at least 24 hours. At the moment there is no charge for the right to enter the national reserve. 

How to get to the San Fernando National Reserve?

To the south zone

  • Land road from Ica to Nasca on the Panamericana Sur until km 477, take the detour at Abengoa (electric power plant) along a carriage track until you reach San Fernando Bay, travel 105 km. For 4x4 ATVs only.
  • Land route from Nasca to San Juan de Marcona on a 80 km route along the Panamericana Sur to the National Police control booth. Then take the 20 km detour along the paved road to San Nicolás Bay, to continue along a 25 km trail along the coast with sandy slopes. Only to get around with ATVs.

To the north zone

  • Land road from Lima to Ica by the Panamericana Sur until km 415 by the detour to the district of Changuillo; from here it can be accessed by a 60 km unpaved road, parallel to the Rio Grande, which reaches the shore of the Puerto Caballas resort. For all types of vehicles.

What to take to visit the San Fernando National Reserve?

Since it is a place with forests, beaches, rivers and bays, it is best to wear comfortable or sports clothing. You must make sure that it also protects your body from mosquitoes and other bugs, since due to the nature of the area, it is normal to find some insects on your trip, especially in wooded areas. 

On the other hand, if you are looking for a beach experience, you should not forget the sunscreen. Remember that you are in an area with a large desert and high temperatures, so if you want to have picnics or open sports in these areas you must stay hydrated and take care of your skin. 

Information of interest of the San Fernando Reserve

If you decide to make the journey on your own, the tourist guides of the San Fernando National Reserve highlight the importance of staying on the marked paths, so as not to get lost and that your walk is a pleasant experience.

It is also important to respect the spaces in the reserve and not litter the facilities. The work on the care of the site depends on everyone!

Ask the guides about the activities that can be carried out in the reserve to avoid any type of problem or penalty. Keep in mind that in many places in the reserve you will not have a telephone signal, so it is better that you ask the guides which are the safest areas.

This is the only reserve that takes care of endemic and typical species of the Peruvian sea, since some are in danger of extinction due to exploitation and pollution.

Finally, due to the nature of the area, it is best to contact an authorized company for a tour. In this way you will not lose any of the important attractions of the San Fernando National Reserve.

Best Trekking and Tours in Peru

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. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

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