The year that was may have been one to forget. But, when the time comes, the wonders of South America will be awaiting the arrival of international travellers.
It seems so long ago, but before the troubles of 2020 arrived, Peru was celebrating huge success.
The nation had been recognised as the world’s leading cultural and culinary destination at the World Travel Awards in 2019, while Machu Picchu got a nod as the world’s leading tourist attraction.
But to those in the loop on this nation, the recognitions that it received wouldn’t come as a surprise.
So, in partnership with the official tourism commission of Peru, Promperu, Travel Weekly is examining the perhaps lesser-known wonders of the seriously big and beautiful region of Loreto.
Located in the northeast corner of Peru, Loreto covers almost a third of the entire country, with a population of around 850,000 people. Most of these people live in the capital city of Iquitos.
A large region in the Amazon Rainforest, Loreto is home to the stunning Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, which are both perfect places for fans of nature, and other wildlife to visit, when the world is ready to open up again.
In the meantime, here are a few fun facts about both attractions.
According to Promperu, Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve contains some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. As a part of the Amazon rainforest – and the second-largest protected natural area in Peru – it is home to 527 species of birds, over 100 of mammals, 69 species of reptiles, 58 species of amphibians, and 269 species of fish.
But, it’s not just home to wildlife; human settlements within the reserve consist of both indigenous tribes and more recent settlers, the likes of which make their living by fishing or farming.
However, today, many residents of Pacaya-Samiria are involved in conservation projects – including experiential tourism initiatives – that have been designed to provide communities with sustainable sources of income.
This includes working to ensure the longevity of animals like the pink river dolphin (also known as the ‘boto’ and ‘bufeo’), the Amazonian manatee, the capybara, and jaguars, as well as birds that include the king vulture, and harpy eagle.
Loreto is also a hub for flower watchers, with some 965 species of wild plants to be found within the reserve. But, there’s one thing you ought to know before booking your clients in for a visit.
It’s important to note that tourism within Pacaya-Samiria is highly regulated and, in order to visit, travellers must be in the company of a guide or travel operator who is registered with the Peruvian government.
Meanwhile, just 23 kilometres from Iquitos, around the Nanay River and its black-water tributaries, is the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve.
Allpahuayo protects the largest number of white-sand forests in the Amazon, as well as floodplain forests, environments home to unique birdlife that attract birdwatching enthusiasts the world over.
Among the 475 bird species to be seen here are the famous Iquitos gnatcatcher and ancient antwren, a species unknown to science until 1998. Other birds thought to be unique to the reserve are the Mishana tyrannulet, Allpahuayo antbird, and Northern chestnut-tailed antbird.
Three species of endangered primates are also found within the reserve, two of which – the yellow-handed titi monkey, and the equatorial saki monkey – reside in the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve as the only place in Peru where they and their habitat are officially protected.
Moreover, the reserve is astonishingly rich in plant life.
For every 2.5 acres of forest, travellers will encounter as many as 500 different varieties of trees – more than anywhere else on Earth – and nearly 100 unique plant species.
There are over 1,900 flora species; 475 bird species; 143 species of reptiles; 71 species of amphibians; more than 90 species of parasitic wasps; and more butterfly species here than anywhere else.
But by visiting the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, travellers won’t just be enjoying one of the planet’s most remarkable environments – they will support economic enterprises that have a vested interest in maintaining the ecological integrity of the area.
To learn more about Peru, visit www.visitperu.com.au.
Or, if you have any questions about the destination, contact Peru Trade Commissioner Mario Vargas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image source: Promperu