Río Abiseo National Park
Río Abiseo National Park
Mixed Peru Latin America And The Caribbean Department Of San Martin, Province Mariscal Caceres, District Of Huicungo

Rio Abiseo National Park is an outstanding example of significant ongoing geological processes, biological evolution and man's interaction with the natural environment. It contains exceptional combinations of natural and cultural elements and most important and significant natural habitants where threatened species still survive. The pre-Hispanic monuments in the Montecristo valley area within the Rio Abiseo National Park constitute an outstanding example of pre-Hispanic human occupation at high altitudes in the Andean region from as early as the 4th century BC. Evidence from the Manachaqui Cave suggests that the Rio Abiseo Natural Park area was settled by man from an even remoter period, as early as 6000 BC.

Situated in the Andes mountain chain (Cordillera Oriental de los Andes), to the east of Huicungo on the Amazon slope of the Peruviar Andes, the park is located at a crossroads between the Marañon and Huallaga rivers. Founded in 1983, it encompasses the entire Abiseo River basin.The topography is mountainous, with very acidic soils and slopes often greater than 50%. Almost all the Rio Abiseo soils are characterized by never having been disturbed by agriculture or timber extraction.

Rio Abiseo is renowned for its pristine primary cloud forest and highland grasslands (paramo ). The cloud forest is reputed to the last glaciation, leading to great species diversity and a high degree of endemism. High-altitude grassland inventories have resulted in identification of 1,000 species of plant. The cloud forest supports a wide diversity of fauna, including marvellous spatuletail, South American pochard and golden-plumed conure. The more threatened species include nine endemics and five species of restricted distribution, representing a new location for species such as yellow-browed toucanet. Altitude zonation has strongly influenced the avifauna: there are over 132 bird species at between 3,000 m and 4,100 m altitude. There are several notable mammal species, such as the endemic yellow-tailed woolly monkey, previously believed to be extinct in 1926;also present are three other species of monkey including long-haired spider monkey. Other notable larger mammals include North Andean huemul, spectacled bear, jaguar, jaguarundi, giant armadillo and possibly tapir. Studies of the invertebrates have shown a high level of endemism, a key example being the Ithomiidae;the park is a centre of evolution and a quaternary refuge. The rich herpetological fauna includes 15 unique species of anurans which are highly site-specific.

Among the most important pre-Columbian ruins are:

  • La Playa : some 25 structures and stone circles have been recorded in an area on an elevated river terrace. Buliding 14 is constructed of dressed masonry and has a decorated cornice: it was probably used for ceremonial purposes.
  • Las Papayas : at least 100 structures have been recorded at this site, located on 16 artificial terraces in the Valley of Montecristo. Most are well built from dressed stone.
  • Los Pinchudos is a burial complex. A funerary enclosure contains small mounds and niches: four of the tombs are decorated with Greek fret and zigzag ornament, and much of the original paintwork survives. The roof beam of another is surmounted by five wooden figures of Chimu type.
  • Gran Pajatén is a round structure for which on the outside there is an interesting decoration on two levels with, on the lower level, and ten anthropomorphic figures of a characteristic design.
  • Cerro Central has 200 buildings. Human figures and stylized birds made from thin sheets of dry stone are inserted into a very irregular pattern.
  • Manachaqui Cave , which lies on the western border of the National Park, away from the Montecristo group, has produced evidence of a long sequence of human occupation from the palaeo-Indian and pre-Ceramic periods until the mid-16th century AD.