The Pacaya Samiria National Reserve (RNPS) stretches over the Loreto, Requena, Alto Amazonas and Ucayali provinces in the department of Loreto. It covers an area of 2,080,000 hectares (5,139,792 acres) and is located in the Ucamara depression, where the Ucayali and Marañón Rivers converge to form the Amazon River. The south-western part is bordered by a fringe of low hills that divides the waters from the Huallaga River.
Pacaya Samiria is the second largest protected natural area in Peru and one of the best spots for nature tourism lovers. The reserve protects tropical rainforest ecosystems that contain a large amount of the biodiversity of the Amazon, a Natural Wonder of the World. The main purpose of the reserve is to preserve the "paiche", the largest freshwater fish in the Amazon, as well as the area's flora and fauna. The reserve contains the basins of the Pacaya, Samiria and Yanayacu-Pucate Rivers.
Most of its territory is floodable jungle ("vareza"), with various islands and lagoons ("cochas"). The most visited "cocha" is the famous El Dorado, which is considered the heart of the reserve and contains the most wildlife. It is located in the Yanayacu low basin and is a centre of tourism for RNPS, a successful example of entrepreneurship in living community tourism.
Sailing along the rivers, tourists can see manatees, pink dolphins and monkeys, as well as other species of bird, mammal and fish.
There are various places to stay within the reserve and the surrounding areas that offer everything from basic amenities to exclusive services. Tourists can also travel by cruise liner and enjoy a luxury experience.
There are three main tourist routes:
1) Yanayacu-Pucate Basin, from the 20 de Enero community, close to Nauta, to the famous El Dorado lagoon. This is the area with the most sacntuaries and campsites on the river.
2) Low and middle basin of the Samiria River, visiting the Yarina, Fortuna and Ungurahui lagoons. In San Martín de Tipishca, at the start of the basin, tourists can also stay with inhabitants of the native Kukamakukamiria community, who offer various hiking and canoe tours.
3) Pacaya low basin. There are many lagoons here, and the forest remains flooded for most of the year.
More information on entrance tickets, prices and local tourism groups can be found here.
Activities: Trekking, hiking, camping, caving, bird watching, and flora and fauna spotting.
Weather: The monthly average temperature ranges between 20°C and 33°C (68°F and 92°F). The rainy season occurs between October and April and the best time for visiting the reserve is between May and September.
Access by Air: Flights from Lima to Iquitos (1 hour and 50 minutes). On arrival, tourists must drive to Nauta (3 hours, approximately), and from there travel by river to the 20 de Enero Community (15 hours by boat or 4 hours by speedboat).