The park, the largest single natural reserve in the country, is home to more than 40,000 indigenous peoples of varying ethnicities and brilliant wildlife. An array of rare birds, monkeys, and river animals such as manatees, dolphins, and caimans thrive here. Most visits into the park will last for at least five days in a dugout canoe, with basic camping, and not venturing far from the river. This is far from luxury but if done right a visit here can be one of the best wildlife experiences in the country. January-May sees the most rain and is the time when you will likely see the fewest animals. Much of the park is off limits to tourists, though many enter illegally. Just a few dozen rangers are in charge of the 20,800 square km park; so enforcing the strict rules are difficult. Hunting is illegal in the park (though fishing is ok), as is visiting with an uncertified guide. If a tourist is caught they will face steep penalties. Permission is needed from INRENA in Lima or Iquitos before visiting the Pacaya Samiria reserve. Entry into the park cost $20 and lasts for as long as you want to stay. You can reach the park via a lodge from Iquitos or from smaller villages around it such as Lagunas or Bretaña with a certified guide. The best access to the interior of the park is on extended river cruises from Iquitos, on ships such as the Aqua Expeditions’ MV Aqua and MV Aria. For the most accurate information and advice on how you should visit, go the reserve office in Iquitos.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.