The world is a changing place, and that is certainly true in Peru. Here are four places in Peru that you should visit now- because whether it takes five years or 500, these sights are in danger of one day disappearing.
The ancient Chimú complex at Chan Chan is amazing; it is the largest adobe complex in the western hemisphere , and was one of the biggest cities in pre-Columbian America. The walls are lined by friezes dating back to the fourteenth century.
Chan Chan\‘s adobe walls (Hakan Svensson/Wikimedia Commons)
Nonetheless, Chan Chan is one of just 35 locations in the world on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list. Chan Chan is threatened in a number of ways; first, as a city built entirely from mud, it is threatened by El Niño rains and the mists and moisture that roll in from the nearby Pacific.
Second, Chan Chan borders Trujillo, Peru’s third-largest city. As a result, it is difficult to keep looters away, and land invasions have brought shanty towns onto the site’s land.
Máncora\‘s coastline (Erika Quinteros)
As Peru this Week reported two weeks ago, scientists believe that this favorite destination in Piura will be one of the first Peruvian beach towns to be submerged by rising sea levels. In fact, parts of the beach in Máncora have already disappeared, though that probably has more to do with changing ocean currents, rather than rising polar ice caps. If scientists are right, the northern beach resort has about 80 years before it is subjected to constant flooding.
The Tambopata Reserve in Madre de Dios protects nearly 1.5 million hectares of some of the finest rainforest in Peru’s Amazon basin. Its jungles contain populations of colorful macaws drawn to the reserve’s clay licks, and monkeys, jaguars, peccaries and tapirs are all present in unusually high populations.
Macaws at a Tambopata clay lick (Brian Ralphs/Wikimedia Commons)
Unfortunately, the rivers of the region are also rich in gold. This has drawn thousands of illegal miners to the region, where they have to dismantle large swathes of the jungle in order to make their fortune. The miners have already moved into the Buffer Zone, a ring of forests that is supposed to protect the species living within the Tambopata Reserve. Officials fear that further expansion in mining activity would put the reserve itself at risk.
It was long a common stop for most tourists in Huaraz. The Pastoruri Glacier, some 5,000 meters above sea level, covers 2 kilometers in the Cordillera Blanca. However, Pastoruri is shrinking.
The path to Pastoruri (Dtarazona/Wikimedia Commons)
Since 1980, the glacier has retreated up the mountain at an average rate of 62 feet per year; it has lost a quarter of its size in the past quarter-century. Authorities have taken steps to preserve the glacier, banning some intrusive activities that could damage the ice field and instituting instruction on the effects of climate change. Saving Pastoruri, however, will require global efforts.