Exploring the natural wonders of Peru

5 must-visit places for peace & adventure in nature’s lap
/ New Delhi
Exploring the natural wonders of Peru

Pink River Dolphins come in a variety of shades in the Amazon river

Home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Peru is a multicultural nation, filled with traditions, unique gastronomy and vast nature reserves.
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Situated in the western part of South America, Peru shares borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile. Its enormous territory, covering more than 1.2 million sq km, is composed of three regions: Coast, Highlands and Jungle.

These are the presents of nature in Peru, that not all countries have. Peru is undoubtedly a privileged country because of the geography it has, which makes so many natural wonders exist, that can amaze anyone. From the ever-expanding, diverse and beautiful plant and animal kingdom in Peru, the following are the most cherished ones.

Flora & fauna at Suykutambo’s three canyons

Tres Cañones or Suykutambo Canyon is located in the district of the same name

About 250 km south of the city of Cusco, by the route that connects Cusco with the Colca Valley, huge stone walls of more than 80 metres high are erected that hypnotise tourists instantly.

This majestic place, known as Tres Cañones or Suykutambo Canyon, is located in the district of the same name. It is made up of mountains whose summits have monumental rock formations of volcanic origin that give the appearance of endless and mysterious stone forests. This site was also declared a National Area of Conservation in 2017, thanks to the efforts of three farming communities living in the area: Manturca, Serritambo and Mamanihuayta.

Tourists marvel at the variety of native plants that adorn this area. Like, the native shrub Polylepis. One of its species, known in Quechua as Queñuales, grows abundantly in this area. One will also see the flowering Tola plant (Parastrephia lepidophylla), which is part of the daisy flower family and native to the puna grassland of the region. Known as the Queen of the Andes, the Puya raimondii, the largest species of bromeliads, reaching a height of up to 15 metres in height is also found here.

This vegetative area is also suitable habitat for vicuñas, vizcachas, the Andean deer tarucas, and pumas.

Penguins of Ballestas Islands

Humboldt Penguin, Spheniscus Humboldt, Peter And Barbara Barham

The guano-covered Ballestas Islands, about 200 km south of Lima, off the coast of Paracas, are home to a large population of endangered or otherwise threatened birds and mammals.

These islands and the rest of the Paracas Wildlife Reserve create a safe place for these creatures to live, breed and play. One of the most interesting native animals of Ballestas Islands, that tourists can expect to see in their natural habitats are the Humboldt Penguins.

These penguins make their homes in burrows in the centuries-old guano that cakes the islands. The Humboldt Penguin is the only penguin native to Peru.

Another interesting and important part of the wildlife on the island is the sea wolves. The sea wolves were once worshipped by the ancient Moche Civilization as gods and spirits of the sea, venerated by fishermen to keep them safe and deliver fish. Though they are slow-moving on land, these are very effective predator in the ocean. They often come and play around tour boats, and at the right time of day, their barks and calls will create a deafening chorus ringing from every corner of the islands.

Amazon river dolphins

A natural highlight of wildlife in Peru is the Amazon river. Amazon River Dolphins, known in Spanish as boto, are the largest of the three river dolphin species. In addition to its size which can go upto185 kg in weight, and averaging 2 m in length, these are popular for their pink colour.

Also known as Pink River Dolphins, for their colour, they actually come in a variety of shades, from a dull grey-pink to bright flamingo-like pink. This colour variation depends on the clarity of the water in which the dolphin lives. Experts have found that the sun’s rays cause loss of the dolphin’s pink pigmentation; so the deeper the water, the pinker the dolphin.

Well known for their curiosity, these dolphins are playful and good at preying. Tourists come from all over the globe, just to see these species of dolphin whose survival is threatened by hunting, pollution, habitat loss, decrease in food sources, and entanglement in fishing lines and nets.

The Amazon river is one of the rare waterbodies which is still home to them, despite uncertainty about their total population.

Meet the Macaws in Amazon rainforest

At least 17 different species of macaws live in Amazon rainforests

Amazon rainforest in Madre de Dios is a region in southeastern Peru’s Amazon Basin, bordering Brazil and Bolivia. In the west, vast Manú National Park encompasses Andean highland, cloud forest and lowland jungle.

At least 17 different species of macaws live in these rainforests. These incredibly colourful, long-living and long-tailed New World parrots are fascinating creatures, with complex social behaviours and slightly peculiar diets.

Of all the world’s parrot species, macaws are the largest. The biggest of all the macaws is the hyacinth macaw, which measures about 1 m  from head to tail with a wingspan approaching five feet. Hyacinth macaws live in both the Pantanal and Amazon Basin regions of Brazil.

As well as being big, macaws are also wonderfully colourful. The various species have mixed colours ranging from blue and gold to green and red, with plenty of other combinations displayed in their vivid plumage. They also have distinctive facial patches. The patterns on these patches are unique to each bird – as unique as a human fingerprint.

Spot the Andean condor

Colca Canyon is the most famous place in Peru to observe Andean condors

Andean condors in Peru live in places with windy conditions where they can easily glide on air currents in search of their next meal. Despite what their name suggests, these majestic birds do not only inhabit high elevations in the Andes Mountains. They are also found in the lowland deserts, open grasslands, and the coast of Peru.

Colca Canyon is the most famous place in Peru to observe Andean condors. Continue reading about the iconic condor lookout point called Mirador Cruz del Condor below. A Colca Canyon trek is another memorable way to spot a condor.

San Fernando National Reserve is another coastal enclave for condors. Further south from Lima than Paracas, this reserve is more remote and generally not visited by travellers coming to Peru. But if you make the trip, it’s possible to see condors flying over the Pacific Ocean from a lookout point above the cliffed shores.

In ancient civilisations, such as the Incas, the Andean Condor was associated with the sun deity and was believed to be the ruler of the upper world. The bird is still considered a symbol of power and health in many Andean cultures.

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