Created when the people of Santa Catalina realised there was value in the preservation of natural habitats, and thanks to the work of Peruvian photographer Heinz Plenge, this huge reserve in Chongoyape, 60km from Chiclayo, is part of one of the largest remaining dry forests in the world.
The reserve is home to many endangered species, including the White-winged Guan (Pava Aliblanca) and the(Oso de Anteojos). In fact, the reserve is a major centre of conservation for the two species, among others. Bears rescued from captivity are reintroduced here, and protected by the local community, with financial help from South Lakes Wild Animal Park (UK) and Zoo de Doué-la-Fontaine (France). Other species of interest are the Andean Condor, various camelids, birds of prey, foxes an wild cats.
The park was created in 2000 with 13,772 hectares donated by the community and was enlarged to 34,412 hectares in 2001 and now takes up 86% of the community’s land. The community is now involved in the tourism industry, income being spread widely as many are hired as park keepers, maintenance workers for park keeper buildings and even as conservationists.
Visiting Chaparrí independently is not easy. Private transport is needed and contact with the reserve and arrangements need to be made in advance. The mandatory guide service at 40 soles is also best spread among a group.
Buses to Chongoyape can be taken from the EPSEL bus station in Chiclayo, after a two hour journey you will approach the town and, if you explain to the driver that you are visiting for the reserve, be dropped off at a corner shop that doubles as the visitors centre. You must make contact the day before (074 433194 or 074 452299) and arrange your visit. If you can’t bring your own private transport, ask to have a horse, mototaxi, or if you have the money, a taxi to take you to the reserve from there.