Field Stations

Biological Research Stations and Forest Reserves

Project Amazonas maintains and operates research stations and forest reserves in the Peruvian Amazon as an integral part of our research and conservation objectives. These sites are open to use by scientists, educators, students and ecotourists, and are also used for hosting workshops and training for Peruvian health care providers and natural resource managers. These protected areas are managed on a cooperative basis with local communities. We are increasing the size of some of these protected areas as funds become available. As part of our conservation ethic, we work with local communities to encourage sustainable harvesting and conservation of forest- and aquatic-based resources, both plant and animal, and to develop best management practices for forest and aquatic resources. Our field stations in the Peruvian Amazon are in the Department of Loreto, northeastern Peru. Two sites, Madre Selva Biological Station and Paucarillo Forest Reserve, are located on the Orosa River, a southern tributary of the Amazon River. A third, Sabalillo Forest Reserve, is located on the Apayacu River, to the north of the Amazon River and to the east of the Napo River. The Santa Cruz Forest Reserve, established in 2008, is located north of the Amazon and west of the Napo, and is about 25 km straightline distance from Iquitos. For information specific to each of the sites, please click on the field station icons. Information on the facilities available, and maps of the facilities and trails at each station are provided.

Madre Selva Biological Station Santa Cruz Forest Reserve Paucarillo Forest Reserve Sabalillo Forest Reserve

Access and Use of the Field Sites

Project Amazonas welcomes researchers, educators, students, courses, ecotourists, and service groups to visit and use our field stations. For policies, rates, and access information, download our Field Station Manual from the Document Center. We will negotiate discounted rates for educational groups and long-term researchers.

Access times to the field sites vary with river conditions, but the following should give an indication of travel times to each of the sites. There are currently no public transport options for directly accessing any of the sites, so arrangements for travel need to be coordinated with Project Amazonas.

By Speedboat (the Mai-Kai (covered) with 115 HP motor, or the Shiripira (open) with 60 HP motor). Most of the travel distance from Iquitos to any of the sites is downriver (going with the current). Return times to Iquitos by speedboat are generally similar unless the boat is heavily loaded, in which case travel back up-river will be slower since the speedboat won't hydroplane on the surface of the river. The Mai-Kai is capable of carrying 12-14 persons with minimal luggage and supplies. For most visitors , 6 to 8 persons should be considered to be the maximum capacity, as space will be needed for fuels, food, equipment, luggage and miscellaneous supplies. The Shiripira is suitable for smaller groups (1-6 persons) with supplies and gear.

  • Iquitos --> Santa Cruz: 2 hours (includes a 5-minute overland trip by motorcycle taxi and a one-hour trip by small boat up the Mazan River.
  • Iquitos --> Apayacu or Orosa River mouths (for access to field sites up both rivers): 3-4 hours.
  • Iquitos --> Madre Selva: 3.5 hours to 6 hours (depending on river levels and weight of passengers and supplies)
  • Iquitos --> Paucarillo: 5 to 8 hours (this site may be inaccessible except by small peke-peke [dragon-tail motor] boat from mid-August to the end of October - from Madre Selva to Paucarillo by peke-peke motor is 3-5 hours travel time).
  • Iquitos --> Sabalillo: 6 to 9 hours (this site may be inaccessible except by small peke-peke boat from mid-August to the end of October - from the mouth of the Apayacu River travel time at low water would be 5-7 hours.

By Larger Riverboat (the Nenita). The Nenita can carry up to 20 passengers with full complement of supplies, gear, fuels and equipment for extended stays. This is the boat used by most tour and academic groups. Travel times on the Nenita are noted below - return times to Iquitos are significantly longer than the downriver travel times, since the boat is working against the current on the up-stream trip, and does not hydroplane.

  • Iquitos --> Santa Cruz (2 hours to the site where overland transportation to the Mazan River occurs - from there is is another 1 hour by small boat up the Mazan River). For the Nenita to travel the entire distance from Iquitos to Santa Cruz (traveling to the mouth of the Napo River, and then up that river to the Mazan River would be 20-24 hours travel time (each way - travel times are equivalent since part of the trip each direction is against the current, either on the Napo River or on the Amazon).
  • Iquitos -->Apayacu or Orosa River mouths (for access to field sites up both rivers): 7-8 hours (downriver), 12-14 hours back to Iquitos (upriver).
  • Iquitos --> Madre Selva: 10 hours (via Zapatilla Channel at higher water levels) to 14 hours (via Huanta when water levels are lower)
  • Madre Selva --> Paucarillo: 3 to 4 hours (accessible by the Nenita only when water levels are higher - may be inaccessible with the Nenita from August through November).
  • Apayacu River mouth --> Sabalillo: 4 to 6 hours (may be inaccessible with the Nenita from August through November)

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