MADRE DE DIOS CITY
Altitude: 140-m/460 ft. above sea level.
The Department of Madre de Dios is located in the southeastern part of the country. It borders to the north with Ucayali, to the south and west with Puno, and to the east with Brazil and Bolivia. Its territory comprises parts of the High and Low Jungle, with hot and humid tropical weather, and rains from November through April. The average temperature is 25ºC/77ºF. Madre de Dios has an extension of 78,403 km² and a population that hardly amounts to 50,000 people. The capital is Puerto Maldonado, in the province of Tambopata.
A Brief History
There is evidence of human presence in this region before the Spanish conquest and rising of the Inca Empire. These pieces of evidence include very ancient vestiges of engraved stones found in the Palotoa, Shinkebenia and Urubamba rivers; in the cordillera of Patiacolla; and in the Madre de Dios high upper heads. This is a very attractive site for archeologists. Researchers assess that the first settlers in Madre de Dios should have appeared thousands of years ago, and that Arahuacos or their ancestors, the proto-Arahuacos, migrated to this region. From this tribe many other ethnic groups emerged and, later on, had contact with the Incas and the Spanish. Some of these tribes, such as the Machiguengas, survive until today. The territory known, as Madre de Dios was also one of the four regions in which the Inca Empire was divided, the Antisuyo. On December 26, 1912, the Department of Madre de Dios was officially founded, and Puerto Maldonado chosen as its capital.
Main Attractions in Madre de Dios
Manu Biosphere Reserve
In 1973, UNESCO declared this region a natural reserve. It has an extension of 1’881,200 hectares and is divided into three areas: the Manu National Park (1’532,806 hectares), an intangible territory; Reserved Zone (257,000 hectares), an area for tourist activities; and Bajo Manu (91,394 hectares), a free zone inhabited by different human groups.
There are beautiful lagoons in the region, such as, Valencia, Copa Manu, Sandoval, La Pastora, Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Cocococha, Tres Chimbadas and Amigos. The rivers that run through this territory are the Manu, Tambopata, Madre de Dios, La Torre, Manuripe, Las Piedras and Tahuamanu. This reserve is an ecosystem that has had an unchanging evolution throughout thousands of years, housing one of the biggest varieties of flora and fauna in the world. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 bird species in the park and over 200 mammals.
There are between 2,000 and 3,000 plant species, 10% of which are still unknown by scientists.
Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve
This reserve is located at the junction of the La Torre and Tambopata rivers. With an extension of 5,500 hectares of virgin Jungle, it stands out for the richness and variety of its different species of birds (above 600), butterflies (over 900) and dragonflies (approximately 115).
Pampas del Heath National Sanctuary
With an extension of 109 hectares, this reserve was founded in 1983. It houses the priceless lobo de crin (horsehair wolf).