A Visit to Chaparri in Peru

History and nature come together in this spectacular nature reserve

RED DE PERIODISTAS SIN FRONTERAS- AGOSTO 6, 2006. The chaparri Reserve of the community of Santa Catalina is located 75 km (47 miles) from Chiclayo-Peru airport. The community has learned to protect the forest and its fauna, taking care of the charms and wonders of nature. Having only one planet to live on, we need to become ecologically conscious and take care of the environment.

A Visit to Chaparri in Peru

Having only one planet to live on, we need to become ecologically conscious and take care of the environment.

The reserve covers 24,000 hectares (59,300 acres) and is one of the most important in Peru. It is a refuge for several endangered species, including spectacled bears and the white-winged turkey, which is being reintroduced. In total 181 bird species (46 indigenous), 23 mammal species, 21 reptile species, and 100 different species of plants have been identified in this bio-diverse region.

Ecologists everywhere want to maintain a well-balanced environment to minimize the destruction of nature. They know that the destruction is connected to the environmental ignorance of the surrounding population, who do not realize that damaging the forest equals depleting the oxygen supply. The reserve can be explored on foot or on horseback, offering excellent opportunities for bird and mammal observation.

The ecological restoration of the region includes the reintroduction of the South American camelidos, animals similar to alpacas or llamas, which have been extinct on the northern coast for many years.

A Visit to Chaparri in Peru

The truth is that a lot of folklore is associated with the mountain, also called Chaparri. It is personified as a wise man; he performed extraordinary acts, healing physical and spiritual illnesses; he was a fortune teller; he predicted the future using stones and water in black pottery or water from natural resources. Chaparri was the greatest, almost equal to the Sun God.

A fast-growing columnar cactus, a plant with various medicinal uses known as the San Pedro, grows in this zone and was used by the mystics and witch doctors of ancient Peru. It is served as a brew to initiate a mystic session, to summon spirits, and as a hallucinogenic (it contains mescaline-ed.). That it also has therapeutic uses, however, is not accepted by medical science. As history and years go by, witchdoctors still use the San Pedro brew to commune with the spirit world, which "real world" science can't explain.

A Visit to Chaparri in Peru

You can appreciate the vitality of this cactus, which can grow up to 16 ft high, while traveling the environs of the mountain. At the peak you can also observe an ancient house that has been preserved. The house was made of clay and sugar cane (quincha). You can observe objects the ancient witch doctors used, including their art.

There is an open invitation to visit the reserve and the farming community of Santa Catalina. The inhabitants work to preserve the customs of ancient Peru and also to take care of and preserve the biodiversity of the dry forest, where natural resources are managed in a sustainable way. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful and safe environment in direct contact with nature and a spectacular view of the mystical and great Chaparri Mountain.

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