Pacaya Samiria vs. Galapagos: Two of the best nature reserves on the planet

Pacaya SamiriaWhen it comes to biodiversity and abundance of wildlife, there are few more exceptional places on earth than the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest.

So it should come as no surprise to nature enthusiasts that Pacaya Samiria, one of the largest protected areas in the Amazon, and the Galapagos Islands were voted into first and second place in a recent poll of the world’s best places for wildlife in USA TODAY.

Overflowing with rare and exotic bird, mammal, reptile and plant species, these two stunning destinations are the pick of the bunch when it comes to experiencing nature’s incredibly beauty.

Size

Though the Amazon Jungle itself covers around 5,500,000 km2, the Pacaya-Samiria reserve comprises just 20,800 km2, a lot smaller than the 45,000 km2 of the Galapagos Islands.

What’s more, most of the Amazon Jungle expeditions that venture into Pacaya Samiria only access a tiny part of the reserve, leaving a huge area for the many exotic tropical rainforest animals to enjoy.

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Accessibility

With regular flights from the Ecuadorian mainland direct to the Galapagos Islands, reaching this unique archipelago isn’t difficult. Once there, visitors need to join an organised tour in order to experience the islands’ birds, animals and reptiles, without damaging the unique ecosystem.

To reach the tropical rainforest animals of Pacaya Samiria, visitors will first need to travel to Iquitos, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon and the largest city in the world inaccessible by road.

From Iquitos, there is a wide choice of jungle expeditions taking passengers into the reserve with visitors able to choose from a range of itineraries to find their perfect trip.

Biodiversity

Though Pacaya-Samiria is packed full of rare and beautiful tropical rainforest animals, it’s hard to beat the Galapagos Islands when it comes to diversity and indigenous species.

From the eponymous turtles and penguins to blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and sea lions, visitors to the Galapagos Islands will have the chance to get up close to some of the most beautiful and endangered species in the world.

Though the Pacaya Samiria may have fewer famous residents, the reserve is still home to a huge variety of tropical rainforest animals, many of which have found a haven in the flooded waterways and tall trees of this pristine part of the Amazon.

With a choice between Pacaya Samiria and the Galapagos Islands almost impossible to make, why not combine a trip to the Amazon with a visit to this unique archipelago and enjoy two of the very best destinations nature has to offer?

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