Created in 1999 and covering an area of 142,272 acres, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve (AMNR) exhibits a high degree of both endemism and biodiversity.
It contains 500 varieties of trees per 2.5 acres, more than anywhere else on Earth, and nearly 100 unique plant species. There are over 1,900 flora species; 475 bird species; 143 species of reptiles; 71 species of amphibians; more than 90 species of parasitic wasps; and more butterfly species than any other site in the world.
Moreover, more than 500 species of animals over 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in length were found in a three-quarter hectare area of the Reserve ... which is a world record!
This wide variety is derived from the fact that the rainforest in the Reserve is composed of several soil types - ranging from rare white quartz sands to red clays - and each of these soil types supports a unique community of plants and animals.
White sand forests are rarely found and, accordingly, many of the white-sand species contained within them are extremely rare. There are 21 species of bird found within the Reserve that are associated only with the white sand forests, and new, unique species are continually being discovered.
The Ancient Antwren, the Mishana Tyrannulet, the Allpahuayo Antbird, and the Northern Chesnut-tailed Antbird are all thought to exist only within the boundaries of the AMNR.
Three species of endangered primates are found within the reserve, and for two of them, the Yellow-handed Titi Monkey, and the Equatorial Saki Monkey, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve is the only place in Peru where these monkeys and their habitat has been officially protected.
This fragile ecosystem is only 23 km (14 miles) from Iquitos, around the Nanay River and its black-water tributaries. Once reached only by boat from Puerto Bellavista, it can now be accessed along the new road to Nauta, and being so accessible to a large urban centre puts the Allpahuayo-Mishana under a lot of pressure, from such practices as illegal invasion, agriculture and logging.
To visit the Allpahuayo-Mishana, it is easy to arrange day trips from Iquitos. If wishing to stay overnight, there is basic lodge accommodation near the community of Nueva Esperanza and at the Research Center operated by the Institute for the Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP).
Finally, it is possible to charter the Selva Viva cruise ship for four-day trips up the Nanay River to the AMNR, visiting the reserve during the day, and staying on board at night.
By visiting the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, you are not just enjoying one of the planet's most remarkable environments - you are supporting economic enterprises that have a vested interest in maintaining the ecological integrity of the area.