As we were checking into our hotel in Moyobamba, the woman at the desk selected some information for us on places to visit. We were very glad she did because we followed up on every one of them!
Our favorite was our one-day tour to Tingana, a ecological preserve on the Rio Avisado, a tributary of the Rio Mayo in the department of San Martín. We booked our trip with Bruno Vásquez Vásquez, Tingana Magic within walking distance of our hotel, the Marco Antonio. Not only did Bruno arrange our journey, he picked us up at our hotel, drove us to the dock, and went with us to Tingana by boat. Excellent service, lots of good information, highly recommended.
Tingana Ecotourism is very well run and very organized, an essential presence within the Area de Conservación Aguajal Renacal del Alto Mayo. Their focus is on environmental preservation and balance within the surrounding area. Tingana Ecotourism was honored in 2011 with the top award for their bathroom facilities from the Peruvian ecotourism association. The facilities are well thought out and include a composting toilet.
After enjoying excellent coffee and breakfast, we stepped into a dugout canoe to journey upriver so that we could observe bird, animal, and plant life. We soon learned that much of this observation depended on our ears! Birds are difficult to spot and some types of monkeys are shy, preferring to stay away from visitors. (The trees and vines were a bit more cooperative…)
On the day we went in June 2011, there was also a festival in Moyobamba (click for a video of the festival) so there were only three of us on the tour, a very lucky break. This meant the guides could take more time to point out birds and monkeys, including stopping the canoe so that we had a good look, and then paddle on.
This is no “get ’em in, get ’em out tour. We spent hours touring at a slow pace, savoring every minute. Our guides showed us as many things as possible, teaching us about the environment, their lives in it, and their vision of a future based on tourism rather than cultivation of rice, bananas, and other crops that use fertilizer and pollute the waterways. Their discussion (in Spanish) also addressed the populations of animals and birds and whether each species in the area was growing, staying the same, or diminishing.
We kept hearing a loud pounding sound and were told it was the “pajaro carpintera” or woodpecker. What a woodpecker he must be because he drilled holes 6″ and more in the dead trees! That is one of the many ways that Mother Nature or Pachamama recycles the forest!
Monkey chatter was constant for part of the trip. I believe the monkeys around us were wooly monkeys, probably more than a dozen in each bunch. As they swung over our heads, one obligingly shit in the canoe, barely missing a woman passenger by inches! It was a sizable amount, nothing any of us would want on our heads or clothing. Our guides heard other monkeys,, which I believe were the tiny titi monkeys that are endangered due to development. Although they are preserved in small areas, there is concern that their population will diminish due to a reduced genetic pool.
We reached a stopping point where the river became too narrow to navigate in our large dugout canoe. A tree house has been constructed, complete with vines to swing on! “Me Tarzan” at its very best. We all took a try at it and, amazingly, the vines were strong and flexible, offering a good ride. (Note: Pick up your feet on the low part!) After exploring around for half an hour, we started back, giving us a chance to spot even more birds. I cannot begin to count how many we saw. Once again, the monkeys got close enough to see clearly. Perhaps we were more interesting to them…
Back at Tingana, we enjoyed an excellent lunch of chicken, rice, vegetables, and jugo or fresh juice. We were fortunate to be there at the same time as a regional meeting of environmentalists, farmers, and land owners. Presentations and discussions revolved about the potential for tourism in that area, dependent on the residents’ putting ecology and ecotourism ahead of farming. It is a beautiful region, the tour is highly recommended, and the people are excellent teachers and guides.
Our trip downriver was enjoyable as was our drive back to Moyobamba. The entire trip was about 12 hours and one we will remember. Here is a website where you will find the info you need, including where to book a tour: http://www.tinganaperu.com/.
Jr. Reyes Guerra 422, Telephone him at (042) 563163.