Mapinguari National Park

The Mapinguari National Park in the Amazon region of Brazil, with its rich biodiversity, is a protected area with a vast expanse of pristine rainforest. The experience of visiting it is unique, bringing you in contact with the purest nature. Its lush flora, fauna, and local legends of indigenous tribes make it an unforgettable destination in the Brazilian Amazon.

Introduction to Mapinguari National Park

Mapinguari National Park in Brazil

History of Creation

Mapinguari National Park was officially created on June 5, 2008, through a decree, covering an extension of 1,776,914.18 hectares (4,390,850.56 acres). Its primary purpose is to preserve the valuable natural ecosystems and scenic landscapes of the Purus-Madeira interfluve region, including Savannah enclaves. It also aims to promote scientific research, environmental education, ecotourism, and recreation in contact with nature. The park’s administration is under the responsibility of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).
The park’s boundaries were adjusted by Law 12249, enacted on June 11, 2010. This law added approximately 180,900 hectares (447,000 acres) to the reserve but excluded an area that would be flooded by the construction of the Jirau Dam for the Jirau hydroelectric plant. The previously added lands were state conservation units, including the Rio Vermelho State Forest (A and B), the Antônio Mugica Nava Ecological Station, and part of the Serra dos Três Irmãos Ecological Station. However, this law was challenged for its unconstitutionality by the Attorney General of the Nation in July 2013, leading to state legislative movements to nullify the creation of such state conservation units, eventually resulting in their revocation.

The park is also linked to a management plan that encompasses various nearby conservation units and their area of influence, such as the Abufari Biological Reserve, the Cuniã Ecological Station, the Nascentes do Lago Jari and Mapinguari National Parks, and several other reserves and national forests. These measures seek an integrated approach to the protection and proper management of the region, especially considering the influence of the BR-319 highway.

Over time, the park’s extent was slightly reduced, and certain mining activities were allowed in the buffer zone through Law 12,678, approved on June 25, 2012. This law also affected other nearby national parks and protected areas.

Finally, on March 8, 2013, an advisory council for the park was established, aiming to involve various stakeholders in decision-making and the effective conservation of this biodiversity gem in the Amazon region of Brazil.

It is managed by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.

Location and Geography

Located in the Amazon region of Brazil, spanning areas in the municipalities of Canutama (40%) and Lábrea (50%) in the state of Amazonas, as well as a portion in the municipality of Porto Velho (11%) in the state of Rondônia. The park is situated in the Solimões-Amazon sedimentary basin, in the southern Amazon depression.
The geographical coordinates of the park are 8°45’07″S (latitude) and 64°38’35″W (longitude). This vast expanse of pristine rainforest harbors a great biological diversity and represents a natural jewel in the Amazon region of Brazil.

Park Geography

Amazon Forest in Manus, Brazil

Geography

The relief of Mapinguari National Park is characterized by an extensive pediplane with river terraces, alluvial plains, and meandering streams. Altitudes range from 51 to 256 meters (167 to 840 feet) above sea level. The region is crossed by streams and rivers that feed the Madeira River on the left and the Purus River on the right. Among the main rivers that flow within the park are Açuã, Mucuim, Inacorrã, Umari, Ciriquiqui, Punicici, Coari, Anaiquê, and Coti.

Climate

Located within the Amazon biome, a region known for its lush vegetation and rich biodiversity. The average annual precipitation in the park is around 2,700 millimeters (110 inches), contributing to the maintenance of the lush and humid rainforest. Temperatures in the park range from 23 to 32 °C (73 to 90 °F), with an average of around 27 °C (81 °F).

Biodiversity

Characteristic Flora

The park’s vegetation is highly diverse, including savanna and rainforest, which occupy approximately 56% of the area, as well as open submontane rainforest representing 11% and green savanna areas covering the remaining 9%. It is important to note that a significant portion of the savanna is subject to forest fires, especially during the dry season. Additionally, part of the savanna is periodically flooded, making it susceptible to fires.

Wildlife

It is the habitat of various species, some of which include Stephen Nash’s titi monkey (Callicebus stephennashi), a monkey species found in the park. Recently, a new bird species called the Campina jay (Cyanocorax hafferi) was also discovered in the transition between the rainforest and natural fields, further enriching the park’s biological diversity. This variety of species makes Mapinguari a place of great importance for conservation and scientific research.

Cultural Aspects

Local Legends and Myths

The park takes its name from the Mapinguari, a mythical creature in local stories believed to inhabit the depths of the jungle. These and other myths and legends add a touch of mystery and fascination to the park visit.

Influence of Indigenous Tribes

The culture of local indigenous tribes, such as the Tikuna and Yanomami, is intricately intertwined with that of Mapinguari National Park. These tribes have played a crucial role in the protection and management of the park and its rich biodiversity.

Adventures in the Park

Hiking Trails

Mapinguari National Park offers several hiking trails that take visitors through the lush jungle, along winding rivers, and to hidden waterfalls. These trails provide visitors with a close-up view of the park’s majestic flora and fauna.

Bird Watching Activities

With its wide variety of bird species, it is an ideal place for bird watching. Here, visitors can expect to see a multitude of bird species, including toucans, harpy eagles, and parakeets.

Canoeing and Kayaking

The park also offers opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, allowing visitors to explore the park’s rivers and lagoons in a unique and exciting way.

Nature Photography

With its stunning landscape and unique wildlife, it is a dream for nature photographers. Here, they can capture amazing images of the jungle, wildlife, and the park’s breathtaking views.

Accommodation and Amenities

Camping within the Park

For adventurers, Mapinguari National Park offers camping opportunities. This allows visitors to immerse themselves fully in the jungle experience and spend the night under the stars.

Accommodation Nearby

For those seeking a bit more comfort, there are several accommodation options near the park that offer a variety of amenities and the opportunity to relax after a day of adventure. It is advisable to look for accommodation in:

  1. Canutama: a municipality near the park that has hotels and inns that provide accommodation for visitors. Here, guests can enjoy basic amenities and local services.
  2. Lábrea: another municipality near the park that offers a wider range of accommodation options, including hotels and inns with different levels of amenities to meet the needs of tourists.
  3. Porto Velho (Rondônia): a city located in the neighboring state of Rondônia, and although it is a bit further from the park, it can be an option for those who want a greater variety of accommodations and urban services.

Visitor Facilities

There are a number of facilities available for visitors, including visitor centers, restrooms, and picnic areas.

Planning Your Visit

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Mapinguari National Park is during the dry season, which spans from June to November. During this season, rainfall significantly decreases, creating more favorable conditions for exploring the lush Amazon rainforest and enjoying various outdoor activities.
With less precipitation, the park’s trails and paths are more accessible, making it easier to reach different areas and points of interest. Additionally, temperatures during the dry season range from 23 to 32 °C (73 to 90 °F), with an average of around 27 °C (81 °F), providing a more comfortable climate for visitors.

How to Get There

Mapinguari National Park is accessible by air, with flights to the city of Manaus, and then by river to the park. It can also be reached by car from certain nearby cities.

Rules and Regulations

To protect Mapinguari’s rich biodiversity, visitors must adhere to a set of rules and regulations. These include prohibitions on hunting, fishing, plant collection, and littering. It is essential to respect these rules to conserve the park’s natural environment.

Visitor Recommendations

Visitors should carry water, food, insect repellent, sunscreen, and appropriate hiking attire. It is also recommended to hire a local guide for safe exploration and to learn more about the park’s biodiversity.

Conservation and Sustainability

Conservation Challenges

Despite being a protected national park, Mapinguari National Park faces several conservation challenges. These include deforestation, illegal mining, and wildlife trafficking. It is vital to support conservation efforts to preserve this valuable ecosystem for future generations.

Sustainability Initiatives

There are several sustainability initiatives underway, including environmental education programs, wildlife patrols, and reforestation. These efforts aim to ensure the long-term health of the park and its biodiversity.

Research and Scientific Contribution

Ongoing Research Projects

Several research projects are underway in Mapinguari National Park, studying species diversity, wildlife migration patterns, and the effects of climate change on the rainforest.

Significant Scientific Discoveries

Over the years, studies conducted in the park have led to numerous significant scientific discoveries. These include the identification of new species and an understanding of the complex interactions between species and their environment.