Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mudslide near Machu Picchu

Mudlsides triggered by torrential rains near Machu Picchu have stranded nearly 2,000 travelers and have damaged homes and businesses as well as knocking out transportation to and from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. Five people have lost their lives, including an Argentine tourist and her guide were killed while in their tent on the Inca Trail. The Peruvian military and several private companies have sent in helicopters with relief supplies and to transport people out. The US government has also sent four helicopters they have based in Peru to assist in the effort. Continued rain has hampered the evacuation.
"It's worrisome. We didn't think it would take this long," Tourism Minister Martin Perez told Lima's RPP radio. "We can evacuate 120 tourists per hour; now the only thing we need is for the climate to help us out a little bit." Meteorologists forecast moderate rain for the rest of the week.

Urubamba River

Waiting for evacuation

Schools will be opened to house those unable to get into the already full hotels. Free health care, food and water will be provided and tourists have organized themselves into teams of volunteers to distribute food and aid. One restaurant is offering free food and several hostels have lowered their rates. In Cuzco, Telefonica, the Peruvian phone company, has made pay phones free of charge so people can notify loved ones.

While this was nothing on the scale of Haiti it does show how a rapid response by the authorities and people’s willingness to work together can lessen the stress and trauma of a natural disaster. Peru is hoping to have Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes again open for visitors to the majestic area in three weeks.


Friday, January 22, 2010

THE GOOD GUYS - The Prince's Rainforest Project

The Prince's Rainforests Project (PRP) was set up in 2007 by HRH The Prince of Wales following reports from leading climate change experts confirming the high level of carbon emissions caused by tropical deforestation, with the goal of “making the forests worth more alive than dead”.

The PRP's work has focused on two very specific aims. The first, to identify appropriate incentives to encourage rainforest nations to slow their deforestation rates. The second, to raise awareness of the link between rainforests and climate change.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Quistacocha Park & Zoo

The Quistacocha Park & Zoo, located on the outskirts of Iquitos, is home to a wide variety of tropical animals, including two aviaries with macaws, parrots, toucans and other bird species, Monkey Island (home to a troop of Spider monkeys), dolphins, caiman, several species of monkeys, jaguars and ocelots, an aquarium room and much more. There are also flower gardens and medicinal plant gardens. Quista Lake has a white-sand beach and is popular for swimming, volleyball and just relaxing. Food and cold beer are available.

Spider monkeys (Ateles chamek)

Northern Caiman Lizard (Dracaena guianensis)

Roadside Hawk (Buteo magnirostris)

Striped Owl (Otus clamator)

White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari)

Hotels and Tours in Iquitos


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

GreenTracks Travel Tips

The GreenTracks website offers extensive information to help plan your trip to Peru. Subjects include general information on Peru, clothing and gear to bring, currency used, weather and much more.

Peru in General

Amazon Cruises

Jungle Lodges

Cuzco & Machu Picchu


Friday, January 8, 2010

Nature's Showcase

Charles Marie de La Condamine observed that the Amazon forest is a perfect symbiosis of land, vegetation, and water. Nothing--not land, not plants, not trees-- is free of water in the Amazon Basin. Water modifies everything it touches, from permanently inundated rivers and oxbow lakes to flood forest and marshes. In terms of expanse and quantity, this water system ranks as the most imposing in the world.

But it is the plant life that makes all else pale by comparison. The innumerable rivers and streams from which the Amazon derives all come from rains which in turn are the product of a climate controlled by…vegetation. Indeed the sheer force of plant energy enriches the warm, tropical waters. And when they recede the exposed land is immediately converted to forest and the spaces within the trees are filled with epiphytic plants.

For years we considered the lowland rainforest to be a rather simple ecosystem. Thanks to satellite imagery, soil studies, and waves of biological investigation, we know that the entire Amazon basin is characterized by the greatest richness of plant and animal species the world has ever known and by an extreme variety of habitats and ecosystems. Far from being a simple forest, the basin is more like a massive green quilt composed of distinct patches, each with characteristic plants, animals, and soils, yet all seamlessly stitched together.

The Peruvian Amazon is exceptionally rich biologically, as seen from some of the more studied groups: over 300 large tree species on just 2.5 acres of land, and that number would more than double if other types of plants were added; nearly 200 species of reptiles; nearly 200 species of amphibians; 16 primate species; and over 700 species of birds. There is no other place in the world that can boast these kinds of numbers. And the Amazon River itself holds over 2000 species of fishes!

The diverse habitats that host this cornucopia of life remain poorly understood. Biologists are describing new species annually from the Iquitos region and still we have barely scratched the surface. For the scientist, adventurer, or nature lover there is simply no better spot on earth!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Guest video

Giant waterlillies (Victoria amazonica)
BBC Wildlife - The Private Life of Plants