In the second largest city in the world located in a desert there is an oasis that survives despite everything. The urban growth of Lima, the Peruvian capital, has been annihilating the few natural spaces it had, however, a large wetland is still preserved in its southern area, in the district of Chorrillos. It is a protected area called the Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge.
The Pantanos de Villa are a reservoir of underground waters that come from rains and melting of the Rímac river basin. That is why its ecosystem is flooded vegetation or, also called, wetlands. This attribute allows the swamps to house up to 210 species of birds (including migratory, resident and occasional records), according to information from the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP).
The flooded forest condition of the swamps makes it an ideal space for different migratory birds that come from the northern hemisphere (United States, Canada, even the Arctic). The presence of hundreds of birds in a single large wetland is an indescribable experience for visitors. Even more so when they all fly in unison and play in the sky until they hide the natural light a little.
"The swamps serve as a biological corridor for hundreds of birds that come from the north and come to rest and feed in this part of the continent, some still continue further south," says Carlos Bramón, responsible for maintaining the Wildlife Refuge of the Villa swamps.
Carlos has been conserving this protected area for more than 20 years. Its activity began in 1995, when the great wetland was legally a zone park. They were different times. “I live in Chorrillos. I started (in Pantanos de Villa) when it was a zone park. There was no maintenance. There was garbage clearing, solid waste was thrown into the canals of the swamps”, he recalls.
Due to differences between responsible authorities, there was no one to confront the environmental abandonment of the swamps, but finally an agreement was reached, recalls Carlos Bramón. The administration of the protected area is shared. 80% of the total area is administered by PROHVILLA, a municipal authority. The other 20% is the responsibility of SERNANP (National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State).
Thanks to the better administration of the protected area, eco-sustainable activities are now promoted, such as scheduled visits by scientific researchers, tourists, bird watchers or the curious public in general.
According to the biologist specializing in biodiversity from PROHVILLA, Alejandro Cotillón Mendoza, the great season for the presence of migratory birds begins in September, and in October it begins to rise. Only in April does the presence of migratory birds decrease because they leave the place, but the resident or local species remain.
There are dozens of bird species that are found, many of them suffer from some degree of threat such as the Peruvian pelican (Pelecanus thagus), the guanay (Phalacrocorax bouganvilli) and the Peruvian booby (Sula variegata). There are even the famous Peruvian flamingos or, as they are known locally, the parihuanas (Phoenicoparrus andinus). We also find Franklin's gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan), which come from the north and continue their journey to the south of Argentina. Per season, up to 40,000 individuals of Franklin's Gulls can arrive in the protected area, not counting the other birds and the more than 60 species of plants that surround them. An experience full of life in the middle of a desert.
Are you ready for your next vacation? Do you want to spend a free weekend with your family, friends or partner and visit tourist places without going too far from home? Among the full day routes that you can do, one of the best is to tour the Los Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge. Known by many, it is one of the best attractions in Lima.
This place is a symbol of respect and care for the environment that visitors should have, as it has international importance due to the vital role it plays in maintaining the habitats of migratory birds. The swamp is a breeding, feeding and resting place for local and migratory birds; some even come from North America crossing thousands of kilometers.
Conserve a representative sample of the swamps of the Subtropical Pacific Desert, including important representative plant communities of the coastal swamps, as well as the migratory and resident birds, with main emphasis on species with some degree of threat.
On August 31, 2006, through Supreme Decree No. 055-2006 -AG.
In the district of Chorrillos, province and department of Lima.
In addition to caring for the birds, the objective of the refuge is to protect the different species of plants belonging to the coastal swamps. Many ecosystems in the Pantanos de Villa have been affected by factories, houses or human activities in the surroundings. However, through the years, it has successfully survived and continues to be a favorite destination for any nature-loving tourist.
It extends over 263.27 hectares, among which live 13 species of fish, 5 amphibians and reptiles, and more than 200 species of birds. One of the best months to visit the refuge is between November and December, since flocks of up to 20,000 birds can be seen there, which are in the process of migrating and arrive from the north. Some of them stay in the swamps, while others only use it as a resting place to later go to the south of Peru.
In 1997, the refuge was recognized by the RAMSAR Convention as a Wetland of International Importance for Waterfowl. It is the only protected area in the urban area of Lima.
There are five water mirrors, or also called Villa lagoons, that make up a sector of the hydrological system of the Chorrillos-Ate-Surco branch. On the other hand, in the vicinity of the reservoir there are several bases for scientific research, with various professionals who have the objective of caring for the diversity of ecosystems and maintaining the beauty of the landscape at its best.
That is why the Pantanos de Villa refuge encourages tourism, activities and educational outings. It is much more beneficial for people to know that all these species exist and become aware of their care, as well as the beauty they represent for the entire country.
In its territories, 210 species of birds are registered (including migratory, resident and occasional registrations). Migratory birds can even be subdivided according to their origin: North America, South America, Andes and local. Similarly, this wetland is the habitat of plant and/or animal species when they are in a critical stage of their biological cycle.
Among the registered birds are the Peruvian potoyunco (Pelecanoides garnotii), the Peruvian pelican (Pelecanus thagus), the guanay (Phalacrocorax bouganvilli), the Peruvian booby (Sula variegata), the white-tailed grebe (Podiceps occidentalis) and the giant coot ( Fulica gigantea). Other important bird species are: the spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularia), the green-headed duck (Anas platyrhynchus), the western sandpiper (Calidris mauri), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the arctic plover (Pluvialis squatarola) and the tricolor heron (Egretta tricolor).
The flora is represented by 67 species of plants and by characteristic plant associations, such as the gramadal in sandy soils, whose predominant species is the salt grass (Distichlis spicata); the totoral in flooded areas and edges of the water mirrors, where the totora (Typha dominguensis) predominates; the bush zone, which is characterized by the appearance of a dense thicket; and saturated soils.
The climate of the area is typical of the central coast of Peru with a winter season characterized by gray skies, intense humidity and light drizzle between June and September, and summer between December and March. Total rainfall reaches an annual average of 60 mm. The average annual temperature is 18.6° C and the relative humidity fluctuates between 85 and 99%. The RVSPV can be visited all year round.
The visitor can take guided tours through a 1.5 km route of trails to observe birds through its viewpoints.
It has three tourist circuits:
Note: The schedules, ticket costs and other information presented below may change at any time and without prior notice since it depends on the administration of each one of the places. If you find any difference, we would appreciate if you let us know so we can correct it.
From Monday to Sunday at 4 times: 8:30, 10:30, 13:00 and 15:00 (with reservation by phone or WhatsApp)
* The guide service is mandatory.
The Pantanos de Villa are not far away, as they are part of the district of Chorrillos, at kilometer 14 of the Panamericana Sur. If you do not hire a private mobility or you do not go in your own car, you can take the buses that go to the highway. The arrival time may vary depending on the starting point and the cost of the ticket, which ranges between 2 and 4 soles.
If you want information about the availability of events, unforeseen closures of the venue or other information, you can write to the official email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 2548887.
The route in total is more than 2 kilometers long. In addition, there are viewpoints strategically located in different places, which allow incredible views of the lagoons and birds. The entrance hours for the shelter are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Sunday and holidays. The three zones in which the tour is divided are the following:
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