Nature and Wildlife

Due to its many different landscapes from coastlines to deserts, to rainforests and mountains and volcanoes and sand dunes, Peru has some of the greatest biodiversity in the world.  This incredible country, 60% of which is part of the Amazon Basin, provides a habitat for countless species of both flora and fauna.  Due to the remoteness of certain parts of Peru, there are still species that have yet to be discovered.

Peru is home to approximately 500 mammal species that range from llamas to elusive big cats like pumas and jaguars.  There are 32 different primate species found in Peru and common types include squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and spider monkeys.  Approximately 70 of the mammals that live in Peru are endemic to the country and there are around 100 species that are threatened or endangered. This part of the world is an ideal destination for bird lovers as Peru lays claim to over 1,800 species (more than North America and Europe combined) and scientists continue to catalogue new species.  Of these 1,800 species, 120 are endemic and nearly 85% of them are year round residents.

Peru’s coastline and the waters that border it provide habits for approximately 33 marine mammals.  The most commonly spotted of these creatures are sea lions and there are two different kinds in Peru, the South American Sea Lion and the smaller South American Fur Seal.  Several species of dolphin, including bottle-nosed dolphins as well as whale species exist in Peru’s waters, however, they can be hard to spot.

Ecotourism has become an important industry in Peru and the country has the distinction of having a higher percentage of protected land than any other country in South America. There are fifty-three protected areas throughout the country that include national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and reserved zones.  A great many of these areas are undeveloped tropical forests, while others are more easily accessible for tourists.  Some of the most popular parks and reserves in Peru include Tambopata National Reserve, Huascaran National Park and Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve.

Tambopata National Reserve is made up of lowland forest along the Tambopata River.  Many of the species found in the reserve are rarely found elsewhere in the Amazon jungle due to poaching.  A biodiversity hotspot, over 600 bird species have been recorded in Tambopata as well as 200 mammal species and more than 10,000 plant species.  Huascaran National Park is located in the Cordillera Blanca, a range in the Andes.  It is home to Peru’s highest mountain as well as a variety of plants and animals.  It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is increasingly popular with hiking and climbing enthusiasts.  The scenery within Huascaran is incredible with more than 200 lakes, over 600 glaciers and mountains that range from 2,500 m to 6,768 m (8,202 ft.-22,205 ft.)

Perhaps the most popular national park in Peru, Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserveis the second largest protected area in the country.  Located within the Amazon basin on the eastern slopes of the Andes, Manu offers incredible opportunities for wildlife viewing due to the varied habitats that exist there.  Around 1,000 bird species and more than 200 mammal species have been identified within the park including giant otters, pumas, jaguars, monkeys and spectacled bears.  With so many different landscapes and protected areas, Peru is emerging as a true nature lover’s destination.

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