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Pongo de Mainique part of the Megantoni National Sanctuary

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Pongo de Mainique part of the Megantoni National Sanctuary

Hidden in the Cusco jungle is this gift of nature "El Pongo de Mainique", located on the natural border of the districts of Echarati and Megantoni - Province of La Convención - Cusco.


It is a geological fault with 2 km long and 45 m wide, without a doubt an excellent place to visit.


You may wonder what the Pongo de Mainique is or what its importance is. The Pongo de Mainique is located in the water gap of the Urubamba River. In the Quechua word, the word Pongo seems to have undergone variations, being its word of origin “punku” which means door or entrance to a new horizon, in this case.


The Pongo de Mainique was formed over time, by the passage of the waters of the upper Urubamba river, causing erosion among the rocks, making way for it to flow into the area called lower Urubamba.


The famous Pongo de Mainique has a width of approximately 45 meters, by testimony of some people who came to this wonderful place, they mention that this place is a gift of nature.


But, where do the waters of this place come from? The water of this place is born from the snow-capped mountains near Cusco and irrigates the entire Sacred Valley, its river is 3 kilometers long and its elevation is approximately 450 meters.


And, that is not all regarding the Pongo de Mainique, since it becomes part of the National Sanctuary of Megantoni, which is located in the district of Echarate in La Convencion-Cusco. The main objective of this National Sanctuary is to keep the forests and water sources of the Timpia and Ticumpinia rivers intact, in addition to giving value to biological cultures such as the Pongo de Mainique, a sacred place for the Machiguenga people.


Why is the Pongo de Mainique important to the Machiguengas?

According to myths and legends regarding the importance of the Pongo de Mainique for the Machiguengas (an ethnic group that inhabits portions of the Peruvian Amazon), it lies in the fact that their culture originated in this place, representing the historical link between the Andean world and the Amazonian. That is why for the Machiguengas the Pongo de Mainique is very important.



This beauty is located in the interior and extensive district of Echarate (Pangoa sector), province of the Convention and region of Cusco, Peru.


The Pongo de Mainique begins at the mouth of the Yoyato River, until it reaches the Toteoroato River ravine (Snail River).



It is at an approximate altitude of 462 meters above sea level, is 50 meters wide and 2 km long.



The Pongo de Mainique was formed millions of years ago as a result of erosion and the force of the powerful waters that forged their way through the chain of forested mountains.


This area was inhabited by various tribes many centuries old. Currently, the Machiguenga communities inhabit part of this jungle area as well as the Camisea, Manu, Picha and Timpía regions.


According to the Machiguenga worldview, the pongo of Mainique was a sacred place that gave rise to origin because it was the door that communicated the mountainous worlds with the jungle ones. Likewise, it was believed that the pongo gave rise to its ethnic group. The Incas, aware of the importance of pongo, also considered it a sacred place.


These Amazonian ethnic groups had a commercial exchange with the Incas who inhabited the upper Urubamba. The products that the Incas obtained from the pongo of Mainique are the coca leaf, cocoa and various fruits.


Due to the biological and cultural importance of the pongo de Mainique and the forested areas that exist there, in 2004 the Peruvian authorities created the National Sanctuary of Megantoni, which had the function of conserving natural life as well as the native peoples that live there. .


The National Sanctuary of Megantoni

The National Sanctuary of Megantoni is an area protected by the Peruvian State. The reason is its great biodiversity as well as the original ethnic groups that inhabit its area. It covers a territory of 215,868 hectares, including incredible natural geographies such as Pongo de Mainique, Angel Lake and more.


It was created on August 18, 2004. In addition to the Machiguengas in Megantoni, there are indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation, such as the Nanty, the Kugapakori and more.


The tourist route through Megantoni runs along the banks of the Urubamba River, including the Pongo de Mainique. The route also includes a visit to the pre-Hispanic path of Lambary as well as the Pongoa petroglyphs and, of course, a great diversity of flora and fauna.



In the Megantoni National Sanctuary, 32 species of large mammals have been detected, as well as 1,400 plant species, 32 amphibian species, 19 reptile species, 378 birds, and much more.


The most representative bird species are the macaws, the mountain turkeys, the black partridge, the cock-of-the-rock and more. The most amazing species of mammals are the spectacled bear, the river wolf, the gray maquisapa, the black machin, the puma and more.


Among the 32 species of amphibians, there are 12 new species discovered by science. Orchids and ferns are the most famous plant species in the park. Research continues to search for new species to discover.


What is the best season to visit the Pongo De Mainique?

It is recommended to visit in the months of May to October, which are times of drought, it does not rain, therefore, the river is very navigable; in rainy seasons, it increases the waterfalls and is much more colorful, it causes cloudiness, the river increases its flow, making it difficult to navigate, access to the plain through this area is restricted.


Admission schedule:

We can visit this wonderful "Pongo de Mainique" from Monday to Sunday, throughout the day, without time restrictions; but it is highly recommended to visit in the morning.


How to get to Pongo de Mainique?

From the city of Quillabamba you will have to take a vehicle to the C.P de Saniriato (approximately 5 hours of travel). Arrived at this place you will have to take a boat to Pongo de Mainique.


Currently there are several transport companies that offer you the transport service to the Saniriato C.P and also the boat service with a route through the Pongo de Maenique and the Yoyato River.


Hiring a tourism agency or local guide is one of the best alternatives to get to know this place since they will take care of the permits and logistical coordination to get to the place, if you do it in a private way it will be a bit complicated since these places do not have mobile lines or permanent established services (food, lodging, etc.


What things can we observe on the way to Pongo de Mainique?

If you are one of the adventurous people, during your trip you will enjoy getting to know this beautiful and fascinating place to the fullest, because this place is one of the few that still has intact vegetation and this helps to better connect with nature, you will also be able to perceive the connection between the puna and the low jungle.


Other wonders that you will be able to observe on your trip to Pongo de Mainique will be the diversity of wildlife such as:


Military Macaw:

The Military Macaw is a species belonging to the Psittacidae order of the South American parrot family. The military macaw has a long, pointed tail with reddish-brown feathers with blue tips at the bottom. Its wings are olive yellow and a large part of its body is made up of green feathers, hence the name Military Macaw or Green Macaw.


Unfortunately, as a result of people's bad habits, these birds are in danger of extinction.


Cock of the Rock:

Also known as Peruvian rupicolous, it is the national bird of Peru. Due to its incomparable plumage and many individual and collective manifestations


Spectacled Bears:

The Andean bear, spectacled bear or "Ukumari" in Quechua, is a unique species in the world that lives in South America and Peru has the largest number of specimens with around 5,750 individuals. However, this plantigrade faces threats to its survival.


Black Machin Monkeys:

The Black Machin is light brown to black in color and has a patch of white fur on its head, with dark-toned cheeks. Its hands, feet and tail are black or dark brown. Females prefer the dominant male; however, other males have the opportunity to mate when the leader is not present.


Maquisapa Monkey:

The body of the maquisapa is covered with black, brown or brown fur, although it is lighter in the lower parts. The eyes are bordered by a white ring.


Another question that passengers often ask is: And where will we sleep? I tell you that the only place where you can rest is in the accommodation in this area that is the Machiguenga Center for Tropical Studies. As a curious fact, the owners of this place are approximately 125 families from the native community.



  • Light clothing
  • Jacket or windbreaker
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain poncho (optional depending on the season of the year)

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