As with all valleys leading into the mountains from Lima’s desert coast, the Chillón starts sandy and dry but soon starting turning green the higher up you go, especially during the Andean rainy season which is yet to finish.
The largest plant in its family, its also the largest thing able to grow at an altitude of 4000m+. This endangered plant, found only in the highest regions of Peru and Bolivia, flowers once in 100 years then dies.
Huayco (also Huaico) is a Peruvian term for the flash floods that occur regularly during the rainy season in the Andes. Often they are regular but minor, such as the one that affected me yesterday in the Chillón valley, blocking the road with mud, boulders and a torrent of water for several hours. Other times they can be more violent, washing away bridges and even towns.
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.
This incredible place is as interesting as it is beautiful. Baked in hot sun, cut in half by a river that floods the area in the rainy season and dotted with ancient pyramids, this dry forest of algarrobo trees on the old grounds of the Batán Grande suger-cane hacienda was the highlight of my time in Lambayeque.
Peru is known to be one of the best places in the world to see birds; it has the second highest number of species on earth. 1800 in fact, making it a bird-watchers paradise.
Continuing my series, Explorando Lima, in which I demonstrate the immense diversity that Peru has to offer without even leaving the region of Lima, I visit the Reserva Nacional de Lachay – an oasis in the desert between Huacho and Chancay.
I wouldn’t have thought there would exist such a large natural eco-system in a part of the coast that has effectively been turned into a beach resort, albeit in Colan’s case a very traditional one. It turns out that the most fascinating thing in Colán is the nature. The beach was swarming with sand crabs, the skies with various types of gulls, the sand by the water with muymuyes and various tiny shellfish, the rocks with yet another species of crab, and there were some vultures too.
It all started as home. After 16 years mostly as a naturalist in the Galápagos islands (one year in the Amazon, two and a half years in the USA studying zoology), Orlando came to Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador, fell in love with the valley, and found his perfect land by the stream.
We took many photos of the local wildlife. You’ve already seen the giant ants at Bayoz. Most of the other insects were so unusual for me that I forgot to take photos – 4cm beatles, flying grasshopper things and spiders the size of your hand we among some of the sights. I also saw a couple of fireflies – again a first for me.
The pictures here are of a place we visited, a small privately owned reserve where you can see alot of the local animal life. It was difficult to get a picture of the flocks of parrots flying above the trees and completely impossible to get a shot of the hummingbirds, so I have just included some of my favourite photos, including the pet monkey that lived in the cafe nearby.