Friday, September 18, 2020

A Look at the Andes Mountains

Northern Peru generally has the same seasons as southern Peru, where one encounters different seasons and weather patterns whether visiting the coast, the Andes, or the Amazon. Generally speaking, the combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates. The country has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season.

The three regions of Peru


The eastern portions of Peru include the Amazon Basin, or selva baja, a region that is larger in the north than in the south, and represents roughly 60% of Peru's national territory. This area includes the Amazon, Marañón, Huallaga and Ucayali rivers. About 60% of the country's area is located within this region (270,000 square miles) giving Peru the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.

Within Peru, the desert is described as the strip along the northern Pacific coast of Peru in the southern Piura and western Lambayeque regions, and extending from the coast 12 to 62 miles inland to the secondary ridges of the Andes Mountains.

The country can be divided into three main climatic and topographical regions: The Coast, the Andes, and the Jungle.

• The Coast. Stretching along the coast, from the Tumbes in the north bordering Ecuador, to Tacna in the south bordering Chile, a length of 1,555 miles is an arid, dry climate. The width of this narrow area varies from 12 to 62 miles and always has great weather. During Peruvian summer time (December, January) it can be really hot, but otherwise, the weather is mild, warm and sunny.

The northern coast has a curious tropical-dry climate, generally referred to asa tropical savanna. This region is a lot warmer and can be unbearable during summer months, where rainfall is also present. The region differs from the southern coast by the presence of shrubs, equatorial dry forests (Thumbes-Piura dry forests) mangrove forests, tropical valleys near rivers such as the Chira and the Thumbes.

The central and southern coast consists mainly of a subtropical desert climate composed of sandy or rocky shores and inland cutting valleys. Days alternate between overcast skies with occasional fog in the winter and sunny skies with occasional haze in the summer.

Sechura Desert occupies 72,900 square miles from the shoreline to the secondary ridges of the western Andes. In the north lies the Northwestern Biosphere Reserve, which includes four natural protected areas of red mangrove and Equatorial Dry Forests. To the south are a series of arable valleys that have provided food in this area long before Columbian times.

The Sechura Desert


The wild, vegetated and relatively wet Sechura desert is located along the coast just south of Piura in the northwestern part of Peru, between the northern border and Peru's equatorial forests, the Tumbes. The landscape is of flailing-armed cacti, spiny succulents like giant artichokes and sand dunes like mountains. Peru’s coast is home to one of the most barren, most imposing deserts known.  Miles and miles of sprawling sand hills, some of the dunes hundreds of feet high, and running all the way from the eastern horizon to the ocean, and not a blade of living grass to be seen—just barren scorched rock and dunes, though there are occasional green and irrigated valleys of mango and avocado orchards in the distance.

• The Andes. The temperate climate has a rainy season from November to April, with January through March being the rainiest period—during the rainy season incredible waterfalls appear and provide a delightful scene. The dry season runs from May to October, and is hot during the day and either warm or cold during the night.

The Andes shelter the very largest variety of climates in the country, with a semi-arid climate in the valleys and moist in higher elevations and towards the eastern flanks. Rainfall varies from 8 to 59 inches per year. The monsoonal period starts in October and ends in April. The rainiest months are January through March where travel can be sometimes affected.

The western slopes are arid to semi-arid and receive rainfall only between January and March. Below the 8,200 foot mark, the temperatures vary between 41º and 59ºF at night and 64º to 77°F in the day.

Between 8,200 and 11,500 feet, the temperatures vary from 32º to 54°F at night and from 59º to 77 °F during the day. At higher elevations from 11,500 to 14,750 feet, in the Puna grassland above the treeline, the temperature varies from 14º to 46°F during the night versus 59°F during the day. The northernmost regions of the Andes around Cajamarca and Puira regions have Páramo climates.

The Peruvian Rainforest on the eastern slopes of the Andes


• The Jungle. Tropical rainforest and Savannah with monsoon rains, cover about two-third of the country, found in the Peruvian Amazonia around Tarapoto and Iquitos. The lower rainforest has a warm climate with high humidity, and has rainy periods throughout the entire year. The higher rainforest is located in the eastern foothills of the Andes with altitudes ranging from 1,300 to 3,280 feet. The climate is cooler in the highland jungle, compared to the warmer temperatures in the lowland jungle. More isolated from the rest of the Amazon region and other regions, the habitat hosts an abundance of unique animal species.

The main water source of the Peruvian Jungle is the Amazon River. It’s the world’s largest and most extensive network of waterways, and is fed by the rivers of Ucayali and Marañon. The Amazon feeds more than 1,100 tributary rivers on its run to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon flows approximately 4,040 miles, of which 443 miles run through Peru.

Situated in the northeast area of Peru, this rainforest, which spreads through the
Amazon Basin, and is the largest rainforest in the world at 2.5 million square miles, 54% of the total rainforest left on the planet.

Some of the important archaeological sites are found in this area of the Andes. They include: Chachapoyas, Cajamarca, Kuélap, Gran Pajatén, Moyobamba and Tarapoto. Along the coast are Chiklayo, Trujillo, and Chimbote.

Map of the Cloud Forest Region 


Tarapoto in the high jungle plateau to the east of what is known as the selva baja (low jungle), 1150 feet above sea level on the high jungle plateau, also called the cloud forest. Despite the fact that no accurate information is known on the origin of the people there, the Pocras (Pacora, Pocora, Huari), and believed to be the ancient Wari culture or the predecessors of them. It is believed that they were of mountain origin, occupying an area southeast of Moyobamba in the Peruvian Rain Forest, east of Chachapoyas where the fortress of Kuélap, home of the Cloud Warriors, is located, and 153 miles northeast of Cajamarca.

To the Southwest lies the archaeological site called the Gran Pajatén located in the Cloud Forest on a hilltop above the Montecristo River valley, and consists of a series of at least 26 circular stone structures atop numerous terraces and stairways. The ruins occupy an area of about 65,500 square feet, with the principal buildings decorated with slate mosaics displaying human, bird and geometric motifs. Analysis of ceramic samples and radiocarbon dates show that the area was occupied as early as 200 BC, and based primarily on architectural evidence the settlement is attributed to the Chachapoyas culture.

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