PUERTO MALDONADO AND TAMBOPATA RESERVE
Madre de Dios (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaðɾe ðe ðjos]) is a region in southeastern Peru, bordering Brazil, Bolivia and the Peruvian regions of Puno, Cusco and Ucayali, in the Amazon Basin. Its capital is the city of Puerto Maldonado.The name of the region is derived from the Madre de Dios River, ultimately a tributary of the Amazon, and named by ethnic Spanish colonists. It is a very common Spanish language designation for the Virgin Mary, literally meaning Mother of God
The region is almost entirely low-lying Amazon rainforest. The climate is warm and damp, with average temperatures around 26 °C (79 °F) [max.: 34 °C (93 °F), min.: 21 °C (70 °F)]. The rainy season is from December to March, when torrential rainfall causes rivers to swell and often overflow their banks. Annual precipitation can be as much as 3 metres (9.8 ft).
The north-western boundary with the Cusco Region is known as the Isthmus of Fitzcarrald, a series of small and low mountains that separate the Madre de Dios River and the Urubamba/Ucayali River basins.
Notable rivers in the Madre de Dios River watershed are the Inambari, Tambopata, Manu, Tahuamanu, Las Piedras, also known as Tacuatimanu River, Heath, Acre and Los Amigos.
Due to the vast size of the area and its low population density, rivers provide the best way of getting from one town to another. Human activity is invariably confined to riverbanks. A number of explorers have searched for the lost city of Paititi in the jungle within the region. A new road that opened in early 2011 through the area will connect Brazil and Peru for trade, and change the isolation of this area.
The only important highway is between the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Cusco, 510 kilometres (320 mi) away in the Cusco Region. It is part of the newly built Interoceanic Road between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, passing by the border town Iñapari on the Acre river. Flights between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado remain the most common and quicker method of transport between the two.
From Puerto Maldonado a road about 55 kilometres (34 mi) long leads to the mining town Laberinto (“Labyrinth”). A second road is between the village of Pillcopata and Itahuania (into the Manú National Park). It is a roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi) – long single-track road that is hard to travel in the rainy season. It also has a dirt road to the native community of Infierno (“Hell”), where the Ese’ejas (or Guarayos) live. Their chief is Agustín Shapaja, who led the famous expedition (made into a TV special) to the Candamo. He was featured in the TV documentary El Candamo, la Ultima Tierra sin Hombres (The Candamo, The Last Land without Men).
Economy, natural resources and environment
Madre de Dios depends heavily on natural products and raw materials for its economy. There is virtually no manufacturing industry. The main agricultural products are:
- Cacao beans
- Brazil nuts
- Palm oil
Gold mining is the only other large industry of the region, confined mainly to alluvium adjacent to the Inambari and Madre de Dios rivers. Significant deforestation has resulted due to this activity. In addition, techniques for gold mining have been described as resulting in both a major environmental and public health problem. Most gold miners use liquid mercury to extract gold particles from the alluvium. They often handle the toxic liquid mercury with their bare hands. To purify the gold particles, the mercury is burned off. After being vaporized, mercury particles contaminate the surrounding ecosystems. Mercury bioaccumulates throughout the food chain to become concentrated in top predators, such as large river fish and carnivorous birds. The local people may be harmed by direct contact with the element, as well as by ingesting dangerous levels of mercury when they eat the fish. Mercury results in a variety of neurological and congenital health problems.
Ecotourism is a major emerging industry in Madre de Dios. A number of lodges in Manu and Tambopata are becoming part of what is described as the Vilcabamba-Amboró Corridor. Some of these EcoLodges offer adventure activities as well, such as Ecoaventuras Amazonicas. New legislation encourages private investors to create concessions for conservation or ecotourism. This is to extend the reaches of the public protected areas. This integration includes native communities, which are increasingly involved in ecotourism. The importance of including the local population relies on the long-term incentives for leaving standing forest. The local population is integrated into conservation initiatives as well as economic cycles.
Other serious environmental problems in the region include loss of forest cover for agriculture, illegal selective logging (particularly for mahogany), and illegal poaching of endangered species (particularly the giant river otter, Amazonian turtles, caimans, and monkeys and macaws as pets)
The national bird of Peru, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, is found in Madre de Dios. It suffers from poaching and habitat disturbance. Characteristic mammal species include the capybara, jaguar and giant river otter
Puerto Maldonado is a city in Southeastern Peru in the Amazon rainforest 55 kilometres (34 mi) west of the Bolivian border; located at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers, the latter of which joins the Madeira River as a tributary of the Amazon. It is the capital of the Madre de Dios Region.
Nearby are the Manú National Park, Tambopata National Reserve, and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, which have been established to protect natural resources. These are some of the most pristine primary rain forests in the world. They include several oxbow lakes and clay licks, where hundreds of birds, including macaws, feed on clay.
Because it was less accessible by major rivers, the Madre de Dios region was among later ones to be explored in the late 19th century rubber boom. Rubber barons active in the region included the Peruvian Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald of Iquitos, as well as Brazilian and Bolivian interests. The workers for tapping rubber brought in endemic European diseases, causing diseases and high fatalities among the indigenous peoples along the Manu River from 1889 to 1892, when the first rubber parties arrived, with another epidemic in 1896.
Fitzcarrald in his exploration found a short passage overland between the Mishagua, a tributary of the Urubamba River, and the Manu River, a tributary of the Madre de Dios River. This land was named as the Isthmus of Fitzcarrald after him. Transporting rubber across it enabled the product to be transferred to ships that could go down the Madre de Dios, connect to the Madeira River, a tributary of the Amazon River, and thereby to Atlantic ports and export markets. He also identified present-day Puerto Maldonado as a strategic location. He died in 1897 when his ship Contamana sank at this point in the river, where Puerto Maldonado was later founded.
In 1901, the Peruvian Government created a committee to explore the nation’s rainforest. Don Juan Villalta led an expedition along the Tambopata River, departing from Sandia. Villata officially founded Puerto Maldonado on July 10, 1902 as a station at the confluence of the Tambopata and the Madre de Dios River. He named the port after Faustino Maldonado, of Tarapoto, who had explored the Madre de Dios in 1861 and drowned in the rapids of the Mamoré River.
The Madre de Dios region was created by law on Dec. 26, 1912, with Puerto Maldonado as its capital. The city was formally recognized in 1985.
Puerto Maldonado is in the tropical Amazon Basin. The climate is hot and humid at all times. The average annual temperature is 26 °C (79 °F) with the months of August and September being the hottest. Annual rainfall exceeds 1,000 millimetres (3.3 ft). The wet season is from October to April. The main part of the town is located on a slightly elevated area that does not normally flood in the wet season. Road travel often becomes impossible during this time. A low season occurs between June and August.
A common phenomenon known locally as a surazo or friaje occurs when polar winds blow in from the mountainous south. The temperature drops to as low as 8 °C (46 °F) for several days.
- Av. La Cultura N° 1318 Wanchaq, Cusco.
- +51 84 233451 (Cusco)
- +51 1 2241816 (Lima)
Our hours are in Peruvian time (GTM -5)