This 34,000-hectare private reserve, located 75km east of Chiclayo, was established in 2000 by the community of Santa Catalina and the famous Peruvian wildlife photographer Heinz Plenge. It offers a unique atmosphere for this coast – it's one of the few places in the world where you can spot the rare spectacled bear in its natural habitat; 25 or so have been accounted for (there are also two in rehabilitation captivity).
This area is an ornithologist’s dream, with more than 237 species of bird, including rare white-winged guans, Andean condors, king vultures and several species of eagle. A large number of threatened animal species is also found here, including pumas, collared anteaters and Andean weasels. Nearly a third of these vertebrates are not found anywhere else in the world. There’s also a friendly fox or two.
The reserve is under threat from illegal invasions by land speculators and in late 2017 one of the community leaders was killed in his home as a result of his conservation efforts. Tourism is vitally important to ensure the local community has the resources to protect the reserve.
Access to the reserve is via a rough 4WD-only track from the town of Chongoyape. Guides are obligatory and advance reservations are required. Get in touch with guide association ACOTURCH through the reserve's phone number to organize a trip. if you can't get through, call experienced local guide Juan Carrasco.
If you don't have your own vehicle, you can access the reserve on your own as a day trip by catching a bus from Chiclayo’s Terminal de Microbuses Epsel to Chongoyape (S5, one hour), from where Juan can arrange transport for S120 round trip.
Far easier, but less adventurous, is to take a guided tour from Chiclayo. Moche Tours and Sipán Tours arrange day trips, including transportation and guide, for S130 to S140 per person (minimum four people). They include plenty of time exploring the park.
If you want to stay longer in the area, good rustic accommodations can be found at Chaparrí EcoLodge. Alternatively Juan Carrasco can set campers up in a very rustic campground in a beautiful setting above Chongoyape.