Friday 22 December 2023

What's the best snack: a marmalade sandwich or a mango?

I suppose the answer is: it depends where in the world you are! 

Today, I'll tell you a bit about our visit to Chaparri Ecological Reserve, one of the largest community-owned reserves in Peru. While the part of the reserve, you are allowed to visit is around 100kms, the full reserve is much bigger and was established in 2001. Apart from the largest, it is also the first private reserve in Peru creating a fantastic example for other reserves to follow. 

Chaparri is the biggest dry forest in the north of Peru with incredible biodiversity. The dry forest in this area of Peru (stretching up to the southern part of Ecuador) is apparently amongst the most unique and biodiverse forests in the world. The habitats living in this forest have evolved in isolation, in a relatively constant climate  For that reason, the Reserve is particularly known for the great variety of its birds (our guide told us that they have 250 different birds some of them were nearly extinct). Their most famous bird was the turkey-like white-winged guan, which was believed to be extinct for about 100 years until it was found again 40 years ago. Although it's still endangered, we saw lots of them while we were there. 

Every morning, early on, we went out to watch the humming birds have their morning shower. Yes, you read this right! There were so many humming birds flying to and fro beneath the sprinkler to have their shower, and then touch down on the nearby branches to dry in the early morning sun.  

But the main reason we visited Chaparri was because it is a great place to see spectacled bears, you Paddington bear! Chaparri has the largest population of spectacled bears in the whole of Peru, they have counted more than 40 individuals living in the central area of the reserve. As well as a small, wild population, the Reserve has a rescue and breeding programme to save abandoned or abused bears, with the aim of rehabilitating and releasing them back into the wild, natural environment if possible. 

In fact, our guide told us the story of Milagros, one spectacled bear, who was rescued in the Amazon and brought to Chaparri when she was only a few months old. She lived in the Chaparri rescue centre for a couple of years but apparently when she was a bit older and stronger, she climbed the big mango tree and jumped the fence into the wild and disappeared. They looked everywhere for her but couldn't find her for years until 6 years afterwards, she came back with two of her cubs. Now, Milagros lives in the wild part of the Reserve and is a great-grandmother.

When we visited, we saw 4 bears - two in the rescue centre and two who were living semi-wild. It was really incredible to see them! We fed them chunks of apple on a stick and got them to stand up (they were about Ioanna's height). One of them was called Amazonia, and was very interested in Dan, copying the sounds he made and kept on looking at him very intently. When they saw we had mangoes, they stopped eating the apples and when we gave them the mangoes, they disappeared and that was that! We didn't see them again. Paddington bear liked marmalade sandwiches but these bears were definitely more keen on mangoes :)

As we were walking back from the bears, we saw two iguanas lazing about in the tree. They were HUGE!

On our last evening, we did a night safari with the park rangers and saw a couple of tarantulas (everyone had the tarantulas on their arm and touching them but, at the end, it felt too weird and I didn't do it), and a Peruvian screech owl which we looked at through the telescope! It looked quite creepy!

All in all, Chaparri - particularly the spectacled bears - was fantastic but I am really excited about our next stop: northern Peru, on the coast, for a whole week and...we are going SURFING!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow this is so amazing. What an experience seeing all that wildlife. I am green with envy. Surfing will be such fun but there are so many places where you can surf but not see the Paddington Bears. What a privilege. Loving your blog Orestis. Green with envy :-)