THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST AND MANU NATIONAL PARK

 

Iquitos - Gateway to THE AMAZON

Iquitos the gateway to the Amazon Rain Forest, is the capital of the State of Loreto, and is located in the north west of Peru. The climate is tropical warm humid and rainy, Loreto is the largest State of Peru and is approximately 29% of the Peruvian territory bounding with Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. Iquitos is 106 meters above sea level with a population of approximately 770,000 people. Hot, exotic and of an overawing greenness, the largest city of the Peruvian jungle is the door of access to navigating the Amazon River.

 

History

Loreto has been inhabited since remote times by nomads and semi-nomads. The Jesuits and Franciscans evangelized these tribes in the XVIII century giving origin to the towns of Borja, Yerberos and La Laguna. Iquitos was founded in 1575 by the Jesuits by the name of San Pablo de los Napeanos. At that time it was a small village where the tribe of the Iquitos Indians lived. As of 1864, when Mariscal Castilla visited Iquitos it turns into the capital of the city. During the XIX century it started to trade with Brazil, but since 1880 with the rubber boom took place and the city grow. The former Hotel Palace and the Casa de Fierro are witnesses of the splendor and ostentation times when they used to import blockheads and tiles from Europe to decorate the large mansions of the rich rubber producers.

 

The Amazon River

The dense jungle of Peru owes its name to an immense river, creator of life, illusions and legends: the Amazon, discovered by Francisco de Orellana in 1541 the world's longest and largest river. To navigate its waters is to be in direct contact with nature and the natives. To watch the sun setting behind the tree tops and marvel at the endless greenery. The Amazon is an immense river, of slow-moving flow, like an ocean, at certain points it can be up to 4000 meters wide. Its waters receive the discharge of all the rivers born on the east slope of the Andes, forming swamps, marshes and labyrinths of canals. The ancient inhabitants of the Peruvian jungle extending over more than 80 million hectares and occupied by countless varieties of animal species, called the Amazon Paranaguas (Great River), Paranatinga (White River) and Tunguragua (King of the Waters). It is also maintained that the name is the result of a combination of two native words ama (break) and zona (canoe), Amazon would mean Canoe-Breaker.

 

Development and Nature

The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is an extraordinary source of natural resources, created in 1982 to protect the Paiche. Covering 2'080,000 hectares of swamp jungle; it is the largest reserve in Peru. In the reserve located between the Maraņon and Ucayali rivers, there are over 30 thousand people living there and about 20 forest guards who work protecting the species in order not to exterminate it such as the black lizard, the manati, the charapa, the giant wolf of the river, the anaconda, the river dolphins among other species. Loreto is also the first petroleum producer of Peru. Due to the construction of the oleo-duct in Northern Peru in 1975, the country was able to supply its domestic demand of fuel as well as exporting crude oil. The oleo-duct allows to transport the petroleum from San Jose de Loreto (in the Amazon jungle) to Bayovar on the coast to Piura. This duct has a total length of 856 Kms. Crossing the mountain range of the Andes through the Porculla pass 2400 meters above sea level. The diameter of the duct is 24 inches in the first 300 Kms. going up to 36 inches the rest of the way to Bayovar.

 

Industry Growth

The large potential of Loreto has not yet been totally benefited. Only the tourism industry offers a large possibility in its beautiful Amazon scenes, its rivers (the Amazon river flows in its land being one of the largest in the world) the vegetation and variety of animals as well as the jungle tribes. A dense tropical jungle covers all the territory with gigantic trees that cover the area and does not allow the sun to go through. These trees allow the development of the timber and wood industry on the river shores. This area produces black and white rubber as well as a variety of wood: caoba, cedro, ishpingo, pine, moena among others. From the cetic trees they manufacture paper and from the oje trees they extract the latex for medicinal purposes.


 

Manu National Park

The Manu National Park is a natural intangible area protected by the State. It is believed that it possesses the greatest biodiversity on the planet. In 1977 UNESCO declared it biosphere reserve because of its importance to the future of humanity.

 

The Manu includes 1'881,000 hectares divided into three areas: the first and the largest, encompassing 1'533,000 hectares, consists of the park itself, where no one is allowed to enter unless expressly authorized, the second comprises 257,000 hectares. In this area, research may be carried out as well as certain controlled tourist activities. The third area covering 91,000 hectares is for multiple uses and all kinds of human activities are permitted.

The territory of the park covers an area which includes puna, High Jungle (the foothills of the Eastern Andean Range) and Low Jungle or Jungle Plain which is its largest area. As a consequence of the different altitudes, it has diverse climates ranging from cold an dry in the highest parts, to humid in the overcast forests and warm in the Amazon plain.

 

The temperature varies between 3 and 25 C with a maximum of 35C. The annual rainfall also varies from 1,000mm in the Andean sector to 4,000mmin the cloudy forest.

Located at 650km from Puerto Maldonado, the largest part of the park´s territory belongs to the Province of Manu, in the Department of Madre de Dios, and the smallest part to the Province of Paucartambo , Department of Cuzco. The park is crossed by the almost 300Km long Manu river which flows in curves, skirting hills of several sizes. This meandering favors the formation of temporary and permanent lakes that provide an ideal refuge for many species of birds.

 

The area is notable of the great diversity of its flora, and diverse types of forests, from the humid tropical forest in the Amazon plains with more than 100 species of tress among which are outstanding specimens of cedar, mahogany, ficus, chestnut, palm, jacaranda, etc. And an inconceivable abundance of orchids mosses and lichens that form an intricate tangle difficult to penetrate and the species of high altitude layer of ecology, to the smaller ones of the puna or wide barren plain.

The reserve contains more species of plants and animals than any similar park anywhere in the world, including some already extinct in other areas, and some unknown and still not catalogued by science. In fact, thus far, only 13 of the 33 different species of trees and lianas solely representing the fucoids genus have been identified. The number of different species varies between 2000 and 3000 and it is believed that at least 10% are new to science.

There are extremely rare flowers and butterflies of extraordinary colors. The diversity of birds is also amazing, estimated at one thousand species according to Dr. J. Fitzpatrick of the Field Museum of Chicago, which represents almost 15% of those existing on the planet. There are large numbers of macaws and paujiles and other birds of fascinating colors. In only four square kilometers of the forest around Cocha Cashu, 550 species of birds have been found, a number unsurpassed anywhere else.

The park contains 13 of the 19 species of monkeys existing in the world and it is also the habitat of ocelots, pumas, jaguars, giant armadillos, and others. The world's largest Macaw Clay Lick is a popular attraction.

The icthyological fauna includes an amazing variety of multicolored fish, despoiled in other areas of the jungle to be sold in the international markets. Black alligators have found their preferred habitat in the marshes surrounding the lakes while the white alligator is usually found in the rivers and streams.

 

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