Protected Natural Areas
Peru, in a bid to conserve its natural surroundings, flora and fauna, has designed a series of mechanisms aimed at conserving the country's biological diversity. These efforts are channeled through the National System of Natural Protected Areas (SINANPE) and the state natural resources entity (INRENA). To date, Peru features a total of 56 natural areas or conservation units, covering approximately 13% of the country's territory. These areas are in turn split up into a variety of categories governing their use: parks, reserves and national sanctuaries, historic sanctuaries, reserved zones, game preserves, protected forests and communal reserves. The most important of these are the first five mentioned.
Rivers and Canyons
Peru's rivers are a source of life, beauty and fun. There is a river for everyone, Dry riverbeds which only receive water during the El Niño phenomenon; there are rivers that are black, ruddy, white and cloudy; salty and bitter; navigable and torrential; tranquil and romantic, or sweeping like the Ucayali and the Amazon Rivers; and even sacred rivers like the Vilcanota, which flows through the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Many of Peru's rivers are born in the Andes. Water trickles down from the glaciers and frigid highland plains, swelling into streams and rivers as it flows ever further from its source. The water that brings life to Peru's territory flows down to the two oceans that surround South America
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Before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, some rivers link up with the Amazon River, which features the world's greatest flow-rate (over 170,000 cubic meters per second) and the greatest diversity of fish species (over 2,000 species).The beauty of Peru's river waters can be found in the canyons they have carved out over the course of centuries, in the waterfalls, in the teeming surrounding plantlife and the variety of fauna species that thrive in their waters.
Lakes and lagoons
Peru's geography is reflected in its thousands of lakes and lagoons, which,according to the environment, feature their own particular characteristics.
The inter-Andean lakes are usually of tectonic or glacial origins. One superb tectonic lake is that of Lake Titicaca, which thousands of years ago formed a vast inland sea together with the lakes of Arapa and Yapupampa. Tectonic lakes often teem with life forms. Lake Parinacochas, in the department of Ayacucho, is famous for the pink flamingoes which thrive there, while Junín is home to Lake Paca and Lake Junín, in addition to the picturesque towns steeped in history. The most stunning of them all are the Llanganuco Lakes in the department of Ancash, which split the imposing peaks of Mount Huascarán and Huandoy.
The waters of the jungle lagoons in the Amazon are dark due to the amount of life forms and high temperatures. Many of these jungle lakes have formed in riverbeds and are fed by rainfall. The largest of them is Rimachi, a surprisingly lovely lake featuring floating islands and treetrunks which shift during the day. The only tectonic lake in the jungle is that of Sauce, in the department of San Martín, which exposes fertile land for local farmers when waters recede.
Peru's waters also boast medicinal properties. The seven lakes at Las Huaringas ("sacred lakes" in the Quechua language) have been used since pre-Hispanic times for magical and healing ceremonies. Peru, after all, has been blessed with hot springs and mineral baths which are visited with fervor by the local population.
The most famous of Peru's hot springs are the Inca Baths in Cajamarca, in the northern Andes, where temperatures can reach 74°C. The hottest springs, however, are found in Tacna to the south, which the local townspeople have dubbed Caliente (Hot) as it can reach a temperature of 98°C.
From the Andes down to the river, sea or lake into which Peru's rivers flow, the waters cascade down cliffs and mountainsides, forming spectacular waterfalls. Some of these lie near roads, while others take hours of hiking to reach amidst dense forest.
Huánuco is famed for its beautiful landscapes, and largely so for its waterfalls. At Pichgacocha (Five Lakes), the stream tumbles down two waterfalls with 30 and 60-meter drops between one lake and another. Other well known falls are the Velo de Angel (25-28 meters), the Sirena Encantada (70 meters), on top of Pacsapampa, and which its owes its name to the charming surrounding landscape, and San Miguel (100 meters), where one can swim in the pools formed nearby.
In the department of San Martín, nature has been prodigious: Ahuashiyacu is a 35-meter waterfall which is easily reached, while Huacamaillo is made up a set of seven impressive falls. Other waterfalls include the Gera and Tunun Tunumba, which only be reached with the help of guides.
Near the capital city of Lima lie the waterfalls of Pala Cala and Zárate. The town of San Jerónimo de Surco is the gateway to the twin waterfalls of Pala Cala, with 15 and 20-meter drops.
Zárate, near the town of Llancha, is a 40-meter waterfall, and visitors will need to be in shape to be able to reach it. The 30-meter-high waterfall at Huallhua is found in the department of Lima, but is reached via the town of Pachacayo in the department of Junín, which is also home to the waterfalls of Tirol (35 meters), at the gateway to the jungle, and Parijaro, without a doubt the most impressive falls in Peru, as the waters drop 297 meters in the area of Cutivireni, the refuge of the Asháninka jungle tribe.
Flora and fauna
Peru is doted with a rich diversity of animal and vegetal species, and Man has lived alongside them in a harmonious co-existence for thousands for years.
Species such as the condor, serpent and puma were worshipped by the ancient highlanders, who crafted their images into pottery and monuments during the rise of early civilizations, in homage to their beauty and power.
Other species served as food or as raw materials for Man's creations. Some animals even forged a relationship of interdependence that has lasted for thousands of years, a relationship maintained by Peruvians living outside the major cities.
Peru's territory has also long kept hidden thousands of species that continue to amaze scientists from all over the world. The most startling are the native species, due to their unique characteristics and beauty, and above all the way they have managed to adapt to Peru's difficult climate and geography.
Source Prom Peru