Peru info


Cuzco ‘ – Inca celebration

Some of the visited areas:

  • Around Huaraz.
  • Excursion to Laguna 69 Llanganuco.
  • Excursion to Quebrada de Carpa (giant bromelias Puya Raymondi).
  • Excursion Quebrada Ulta (polylepis forest).
  • Pisco/Paracas: National park Isla Ballestas.
  • Scenic flight above the Nazca lines.
  • Villa Marshes, 20 km south of Lima. Birding area with over 100 birdspecies.
  • Cuzco, the fammous Inca ruins of Machu Pichu.
  • Mountain forests and Manu national park.
  • Deserts of Coastal Peru and Northern Chile


The Deserts of Coastal Peru and northern Chile form a continuous belt along the western escarpment of the Andean Cordillera for more than 3500 kms from the Peru/Ecuador border (5 ‘°00’S) to northern Chile (29 ‘°55’S) . Seasonal fog allows for the development of rich fog-zone vegetation termed, lomas formations. These unusual plant communities have been the focus of an ongoing research project by Field Museum botanist, Michael Dillon. The formations have been visited repeatedly since 1983 and collecting has led to the discovery of several species new to science, including Tillandsia tragophoba – family Bromeliaceae (Dillon, 1991), Griselinia carlomunozii – family Griseliniaceae (Dillon & Munoz-Schick, 1993), and Astragalus neobarnebyanus – Leguminosae (Ga‘³mez-Sosa, 1986).

The project maintains a specimen-oriented database [LOMAFLOR] initiated to manage specimen label information for the plants of western, coastal South America (see Database Activities ). LOMAFLOR currently contains over 9000 records (April 2001) representing ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants recorded from coastal Peru and northern Chile. A checklist of the flora has been extracted from the database [ Floristic Checklist ].

A new search engine is available for examining records in LOMAFLOR online. Go to LOMAFLOR Search Engine!


Mountain forest

The montane forests of northern Peru have been the focus of ongoing systematic inventories to determine their composition and extent. The forests we have surveyed are all within the Department of Cajamarca, with the exception of Canchaque forest from adjacent Piura. The department of Cajamarca has an area of ca. 3,500,000 ha, including an estimated 32,000 ha of deciduous and evergreen montane forests. Forests are fragmented by cutting for timber and clearing for pasture land and by the nature of river drainage basins. The upper limit of montane forest is around 3000 m (ca. 9,800 feet), where it intergrades with alpine vegetation ( jalca or puna ) which extends to over 4500 m (ca. 15,000 feet). At their lower limits, the forests grade into tropical deciduous forests and semiarid scrub (900-1200 m).

The composition of the forests has been compiled and a database [DETBASE] constructed. The forest have yielded a total of 144 families, 486 genera, and approximately 1100 species of ferns, fern allies, gymnosperms, and flowering plants. The largest families are the Asteraceae (57 genera, 78 species), Orchidaceae (24 genera, 59 species), Solanaceae (19 genera, 56 species), Poaceae (27 genera, 47 species) and Rubiaceae (17 genera, 40 species). For a detailed discussion of montane forest distribution and generic listing consult Dillon et al. 1995.

The unique nature of the forests of northern Peru has long been recognized. They are home to many plant and animal species with restricted distributions (endemics). An analysis of generic similarity between the forests of northern Peru and southern Ecuador suggest that there was more continuous forests in the distant past. Checklists for four forest localities are provided and their postions indicated on the map.


For nearly 3500 km along the western coast of South America [5-30 deg.S], the Peruvian and Atacama deserts form a continuous, hyperarid belt, broken only by occasional rivers valleys from the Andean Cordillera. Native vegetation of the deserts consists of over 1200 species, many highly endemic and largely restricted to the fog-zone locations or lomas formations(“small hills”). The floristic communities of the lomas formations essentially function as terrestrial islands separated by hyperarid habitat where virtually no plants exist. No fewer than 80 localities have been recognized as unique assemblages. A map of localities and a listing of individual lomas formations are provided. The plants within the lomas formations have diverse origins including amphitropic disjuncts, semi-arid Ecuadorian and central Chilean species, montane Andean disjuncts, and many lomas endemics.

The phytogeography and ecology of the deserts of western South America have been reviewed in detail (see Rundel et al. 1991) and a floristic check-list of the entire area is available here. While the desert is continuous from Peru to Chile, the topography, climate, and vegetation of each desert is distinct. Aridity is controlled by three climatic anomalies. The first, an abrupt climatic transition both to the north and south resulting in a poorly developed steppe climate along the margins; second, brief periods of heavy rainfall and relatively high temperatures associated with rare, but recurrent, El Nino events (see Dillon 1985, Dillon and Rundel 1989) occasionally affect parts of the desert, bringing wet tropical conditions; and the third, the remarkable temperature homogeneity along the entire latitudinal extent of the deserts. This pattern of temperature stability results from the influence of cool, sea-surface temperatures associated with the south to north flow of the Humboldt or Peruvian Current. Also important is the influence of strong atmospheric subsidence associated with a positionally stable, subtropical anticyclone. The result is a mild, uniform coastal climate with the regular formation of thick stratus cloud banks below 1000 m during the winter months.

Where coastal topography is low and flat, this stratus layer dissipates inward over broad areas with little biological impact, but where isolated mountains or steep coastal slopes intercept the clouds, a fog-zone develops with a stratus layer concentrated against the hillsides. These fogs, termed gara‘ºa in Peru and camanchaca in Chile, are the key to the extent and diversity of vegetation throughout the deserts of the western coast. This moisture allows the development of lomas formations which other authors have referred to as the “fertile belt”, “fog oases”, or “meadows on the desert”. While the extent of the Chilean and Peruvian deserts actually covers nearly 200,000 sq. km., the area covered by vegetation, even during periods of maximum development, is probably less than 4000 sq. km.

Alpine vegetation

The Andean Cordillera extends the length of western South America, largely unbroken, for over 7500 km. It is the dominant physiographic feature of the continent. Its peaks average 3500-4500 m from Colombia to Argentina and form a formidable east-west barrier for plants, animals and man. In Peru, the Andes consist of two parallel ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Oriental. The combination of high elevations and latitudinal range give rise to several types of specialized alpine environments.

In northern Peru, between the paramos to the north (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela) and puna to the south (southern Peru, north-eastern Chile, Bolivia, north-western Argentina), there exist transitional alpine formations known as jalca . While exacting definitions are lacking, jalca is usually interpreted as drier than paramo and wetter than puna (Weberbaruer, 1945). This climatic transition encompasses a region referred to as the Huancabamba Deflection (or Depression), one of the few pronounced discontinuities in the Andean Cordillera where the mountains bend from NW to NE and become fragmented. Habitat heterogeneity and fragmentation in this region appears to have affected speciation, endemism, and overall biodiversity in both plants and animals. This region can be thought of as a more diverse and complex northern extension of the “altiplano.”

Inter-andine valleys

In northern Peru, there are a wide variety of environments formed by the Andean Cordillera and the rivers that dissect them. In western Cajamarca, the deep valley cut by the north flowing Ra‘­o Marana‘³n produces an Inter-Andean formation between the high-elevation “jalca” of the central Cordillera and the eastern escarpment [6 ‘°30′-9 ‘°00’S latitude]. Environments change rapidly as you descend from nearly 4500 m to 800 m and then ascend again to equal heights, and all over a very short lateral distance. At the bottom of the valley exists a unique desert formation that includes columnar cacti and thorny shrubs, many of which are only found in the Ra‘­o Marana‘³n valley.

The profundity and aridity of the valley have acted as barriers to both dispersal and establishment. As a consequence there are several instances where closely related species are found on either side of the Marana‘³n valley. This photograph was taken just south of Balsas along the east bank of the Ra‘­o Marana‘³n. We are currently collecting data from this region.

Ceja de la Montana

The Ceja de la Mo.ntana or “eyebrow of the mountain” is essentially a transition zone between the eastern lowland forests or Selva Alta and the highlands of the Andes [1800-3600 m]. The overall structure is much like “elfin forest” with small trees, shrubs, arborescent ferns, and abundant epiphytes. In Peru, the formations are almost in constant fog as the clouds rise from the lowlands each day. As one would expect, the formation is
made up of representatives from upland and lowland plant families. These communities typically contain many endemics.

Diagram of vegetation zonation in the coastal fog zone of (A) southern Peru and (B) northern Chile.

(Based on:

The national parks in Peru, South America.

  • Natural heritage
  • National parks
  • National reservations
  • National sanctuaries
  • Historical sanctuaries
  • National forests
  • Protection forests
  • Communal reservation
  • Enclosed hunting lands
  • Reserved zones Natural heritage

Natural heritage

The Constitution of Peru of 1993 recognized the natural resources and ecosystem variety of its country as a heritage[citation needed]. In 1900, the National System of Natural Areas that are protected by the Government (SINANPE) was created[citation needed]. This entity depends on the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA). Also created was a map of protection and preservation of historical-cultural heritage and nature.This map has 49 natural areas (13% of the country surface) that are preserved by the Government: eight national parks, eight national reservations, six national sanctuaries, three historical sanctuaries, four national forests, six protection forests, one communal reservation, two hunting enclosed lands and eleven reserved zones.National Parks are places where the wild flora and fauna are protected and preserved. Natural resources exploitation and human settlements are forbidden.

National parks

Cutervo, created in 1961 and located in Cajamarca, is the oldest Peruvian National Park. It contains many caves, including the San Andres Cave is a home of the endangered guacharo (oilbird).
Tingo Maria is located in Huanuco. Its principal attraction is the Cueva de las Lechuzas (Owl Cave), another guacharo habitat.
Manu, located in the departments of Madre de Dios and Cuzco. It is most representative of Amazon biodiversity.[citation needed] In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Reserve of Biosphere; and in 1987, it was pronounced a Natural Heritage of Humanity.
Huascaran is located in Ancash. It was also pronounced a Natural Heritage of Humanity and recognized as Reserve of Biosphere. Peru’s highest snow-covered mountain (6,768 m) is found here, also named Huascaran. This park is the habitat of the Puya Raimondi, the Cougar, the Jaguar, the Llama, the Guanaco, the Marsh Deer, the Peruvian tapir, the Peruvian Piedtail, a hummingbird species, and many kinds of ducks.
Cerros de Amotape (Amotape Hills) is located in Piura and Tumbes. It has many dry-climate forests and endangered species such as the American crocodile.
The Abiseo River Park, another Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity site, is located in San Marta‘­n.
Yanachaga-Chemillen, a tropical forest preservation zone at 4,800 m, is located in Pasco. The Palcazu river, Huancabamba river, Pozuzo river and their affluents flows through the park. Some native communities still live in here. There are also archaeological fields from the Inca and Yanesha cultures.
Bahuaja-Sonene is located in Madre de Dios. It contains Puno Department’s tropical forests, the Heath Pampas and part of the Tambopata-Candamo Reservation Zone.

National reservations

  • The National Reservation of the Lomas de Lachay, Lima, Peru.
  • Valle del Colca, Arequipa. Pampa Galeras – Barbara D`Achille is located in Ayacucho. It is the habitat of the vicuna.
  • Junin is located in Junin. One of its main purposes is to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of Lake Junin.
  • Paracas is located in Ica. Its main purpose is to preserve the sea ecosystem and protect the historical and cultural heritage of the area.
  • Lachay is located in Lima. Its main purpose is to restore and protect the ecosystem of the Lomas de Lachay (Lachay Hills).
    Pacaya-Samiria is located in Loreto. Its main purpose is to preserve the ecosystems of the Omagua Region and to promote the indigenous towns.
  • Salinas and Aguada Blanca are located in Arequipa and Moquegua. Their main purpose is to preserve flora, fauna and landscape.
  • Calipuy is located in La Libertad. Its main purpose is to protect guanaco populations.
  • Titicaca is located in Puno. Its main purpose is to preserve Lake Titicaca’s ecosystems and landscape.

National sanctuaries

  • Huayllay
  • Calipuy
  • Lagunas de Mejia (“Mejia Lagoon”)
  • Ampay
  • Manglares de Tumbes (“Mangroves of Tumbes”)
  • Manglares de Vice, found in the Sechura Province of Piura Region (the southernmost mangrove swamp system in the Pacific region; smaller than the Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary)
  • Tabacones Namballe Historical sanctuaries Chacramarca
  • Pampas de Ayacucho (“Pampas of Ayacucho”)
  • Machu Picchu National forests Biabo Cordillera Azul (Biabo Blue Mountain Range)
  • Mariscal Caceres
  • Pastaza–Morona–Maranon
  • Alexander von Humboldt Protection forests Aledano Bocatoma del Canal Nuevo Imperial (“Aledano Intake of the New Imperial Canal”)
  • Puquio Santa Rosa (“Santa Rosa (Water) Spring”)
  • Pui–Pui
  • San Mata‘­as–San Carlos
  • Alto Mayo
  • Pagaibamba Communal reservation Yanesha Enclosed hunting lands Sunchubamba
  • El Angolo Reserved zones Manu
  • Laquipampa
  • Apurimac
  • Pantanos de Villa (Villa Swamps)
  • Tambopata–Candamo
  • Batan Grande
  • Algarrobal El Moro
  • Tumbes
  • Ga‘¼eppa‘­
  • Chancaybanos
  • Aymuru Lupaca

Source: List_of_national_parks_in_Peru


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