Pucallpa - Frontier Town of the Peruvian Amazon

Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/01/29 - 11:18am.
Pucallpa, Peru - A Frontier TownPucallpa, Peru - A Frontier Town
What a treat it is to arrive in a new and unfamiliar city and have an old friend and colleague meet you with open arms and a host of friends. A past instructor and colleague from BCIT, Roald Kley has a long history in Pucallpa, Peru.
Roald KleyRoald Kley
Over 20 years ago he worked for a forestry company here in Pucallpa (while on a break from BCIT) and now (in 2007) he spends part of his year on the coast of British Colombia and part of the year in the Amazon basin. While in Pucallpa, I stayed in the home of one of Roald’s long time friends, Winston Vasquez and his family. I was made to feel right at home. Winston is a member of the local Rotary Club and has extensive experience in the forest industry (in Peru and other parts of the world). It was so nice to be included as part of the family, particularly when you are so far from home (thanks Caricia, Carlos, Winston & Mirtha). I should mention that Winston and his family have started a bed and breakfast (I was the first customer) so if you find yourself in Pucallpa and you would like to stay with a wonderful, generous and knowledgeable family give Winston and Mirtha a call and they will take care of you!
Yarinacocha near Pucallpa, PeruYarinacocha near Pucallpa, Peru
The town of Pucallpa was described to me as a frontier town, the wild-west so to speak. Along the riverfront boats and their cargo are in constant motion transporting wood, fruit, people (and who knows what else) up and down the river. Pucallpa is along the banks of the Rio Ucayali a major tributary of the Amazon. While the Rio Madre de Dios (where I was a couple of days ago) originates in south-east Peru then cuts through Bolivia before joining the Amazon in Brazil, the Rio Ucayali starts in the Andes, flows north towards Iquitos, near which it joins the Rio Maranon to form the Rio Solimoes. The Ucayali derives its enormous sediment load from the Andes and feeds it to the Solimoes River which eventually joins the Rio Negro near Manaus, Brazil and becomes the Amazon.
The countries of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela are all part of the Amazon basin, which means they all contribute waters into the worlds mightiest river – the source or headwaters though are considered to be in Peru.
Pucallpa on the Ucayali RiverPucallpa on the Ucayali River
My original plan was to spend only a couple of days in Pucallpa and then head up or down river. But Roald kept coming up with ideas of areas to explore and so I ended up using Pucallpa as a base for a number of days. I was given an excellent introduction to the area (from the waterfront, to the main city plaza, churches and the local nature reserves as well as the Laguna Yarinacocha, a gorgeous lake close to the city). There is a local nature reserve on the outskirts of the city but it is more like a zoo than a reserve. It did though give me a chance to see some of the fauna typical of the region (from primates to wild cats).
Caricia with ConstrictorCaricia with Constrictor
We also visited a breeding facility for both reptiles and amphibians (from caimans to frogs!) located not far from Laguna Yarinacocha.
White Caiman (or Crocodile)White Caiman (or Crocodile)

San Francisco & Santa Clara
Roald also wanted to take me to a local village not far from the city to meet the Shapibo Indians, one of the local indigenous groups. We ended up visiting two villages: San Francisco and Santa Clara. Although the two villages are only a 30 minute walk from one another, for a visitor they can feel quite different. The reason for the differences is related to the level of development of the two. San Francisco is accessible by both boat and road, while Santa Clara can only be reached by boat (or by foot from San Francisco). Residents of San Francisco have road access to the ‘city’ of Pucallpa, they have electricity and even street lights (I am not sure whether they have running water or if they have to use wells). Santa Clara on the other hand relies on solar panels for their electricity, has no road access, no street lights, and they get their water from wells.
Kids Swimming at San Francisco, PeruKids Swimming at San Francisco, Peru
Upon arriving at San Francisco we were greeted by a large Crystal Beer billboard sign. If you are keen to shop for local textiles you can go to a special market area built for the tourist industry. Despite being very small, San Francisco has a distinct touristy flavour.
Shapibo WomanShapibo Woman
Santa Clara on the other hand has more of an authentic feel to it. When we visited Santa Clara (the day after visiting San Francisco) we arrived by boat, met and chatted with the village leader and his wife and were welcomed to the community. Perhaps it is a bit selfish (on my part) to prefer the less developed community (the whole idea of sustainable development is to ensure that all people have access to resources (food, water, fuel) to improve their standard of living. I am not sure what it is about traditional cultures and lifestyles that we humans (at least some of us) are so keen to see and experience. That said, it was a very valuable experience to visit and enjoy both communities.
Musical Group in PucallpaMusical Group in Pucallpa
A Musical Evening
On one of my last evenings in Pucallpa Winston invited musicians to his home to play and sing. It was a most enjoyable evening!
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Submitted by Caricia (not verified) on Mon, 2007/01/29 - 12:16pm.
Hello Danny ( el gato), Como estas?? I hope you are fine!! finally i can see one pics from Pucallpa hehehe.. We were anxious to see some pics from Pucallpa. Well everybody is fine here, it's a beautiful day today, very warm.. i would like go to swim, but not alone buuuuuuu.. Take Care!! and remember you have to learn Spanish. kss, good luck!
Submitted by Danny Catt on Sun, 2007/02/04 - 5:15pm.

Thanks so much for your message and I am glad to hear you are well in Pucallpa! Please say hello to your family and Roald & Marisela too. I promise to add more pics from Pucallpa soon. I will be adding more to the Blog as well.  


PS. My Spanish is improving.... but very slowly :)

Submitted by Agnes (not verified) on Thu, 2007/02/01 - 7:59pm.

Hi Danny:  Sounds and looks like you are having a wonderfull time.   I look forward to your emails updating us on all your new adventures.  The photographs are wonderfull.

Take care of yourself.  Agnes

Submitted by Danny Catt on Sat, 2007/02/03 - 11:27am.

Hola Agnes... and thanks for signing in! I will be adding more to this blog soon! Hope you are well!


Submitted by Sam and Jacob (not verified) on Sun, 2007/02/04 - 12:14pm.
Hi Danny!! It looks like you are having a great time...in our class we are talking about climate change and we are wondering how people feel about that in the countries you are visiting. - Sam

What kind of animals did you see in the national park (Chile)? I hope you have fun....from Jacob
Submitted by Danny Catt on Wed, 2007/02/14 - 8:32am.

Hello my friends!

Sam and Jacob your questions are excellent and I am glad you were able to sign on to my blog. I am really pleased to know that you are learing about climate change in your classes at school. I have met a lot of people on my journey and it has been interesting to talk to people about their lives and learn about what is important to them. It seems that people in South Amerca are very concerned about the environment ... although I have not spoken to many people specifically about climate change (although I will). I will add more information about climage change on this blog soon.

Jacob... I saw all sorts of animals in Chile... from foxes to condors to Vicunas and Gunacos! I will show you some pictures of these animals soon.

Thanks for your questions and I hope to hear from you both again soon!


Submitted by Jillian (not verified) on Mon, 2007/02/05 - 10:06pm.
Hola Danny, from good ol' BCIT! Sounds like you're enjoying yourself on this journey! I hope to visit all these amazing places at some point, don't know for sure when that will start...where do you recommend starting at? Ever since last semester, I've been looking at plants more closely since learning how to identify them. My family is starting to catch on too now hehehe. That class was definitely one of my most enjoyable ones! Can't wait to hear all of the stories and see all of the pictures when you get back! Congrats on the success of your journey! Take care! Jillian Stewart
Submitted by Shamina (not verified) on Thu, 2007/02/08 - 11:33am.

Hey Danny,

I'm glad to learn that you are having such an enjoyable time. Though I hope you are getting some rest as well. I am enjoing the website and learning about South America..Pretty place and from what I read here rich in culture... And the photos are so beautiful.. lovely compositions! The website is very well maintained too. Great work guys!

 "I am not sure what it is about traditional cultures and lifestyles that we humans (at least some of us) are so keen to see and experience." .. how true .. I believe its the simplicity of it all that is so attractive...though its better experienced than talked about. No?

I am already thinking of planning a trip sometime. Take care of yourself and I hope you don't lose anything else (read about the VISA :().

(I promise to visit the website a bit more often than I do! I did stop by earlier but I gather you must be on the road alot to stop and catchup.)

Stay safe and hope to hear from you soon.



Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 2007/03/11 - 1:16am.
Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2007/03/13 - 12:09pm.
E evidente che il luogo e stato fatto dalla persona che realmente conosce il mestiere!
Submitted by Danny Catt on Sat, 2007/03/24 - 12:41pm.

Thanks for your note. I appreciate that you have taken the time to sign on and send a post.



Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2007/03/15 - 9:49pm.
um... buoni, realmente buoni luogo e molto utile;)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 2007/03/17 - 2:05pm.
Lo trovo piuttosto impressionante. Lavoro grande fatto..)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2007/03/19 - 5:14am.
WOW!! I like it!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:44am.
Nice site. Thanks.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2007/04/10 - 9:51pm.
9 su 10! Ottenerlo! Siete buoni!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 2007/04/13 - 12:37am.
Nice site you have!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 2007/04/14 - 5:55pm.
Stupore! ho una sensibilit
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 2007/04/15 - 9:44pm.
E grande io ha trovato il vostro luogo! Le info importanti ottenute! ))