Andean Bear, Peru

Destinations Do They Have Bears in Peru?

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Paddington Bear – the famous bear from ‘darkest Peru’

The South American country of Peru is famous for her natural wonders such as Lake Titicaca, the Rainbow Mountains, the Amazon rainforest and Colca Canyon, as well as being the home of ancient Inca culture, astounding architectural sites and a vibrant culture. In addition to these, ‘darkest Peru’ is the home of the nation’s favourite bear, Paddington.

Made famous in the 1958 storybook by Micheal Bond, A Bear Called Paddington, in case you didn’t know, Paddington Bear is a spectacled bear from the Andes that arrives at London Paddington Station as a stowaway. The storybook series is regarded with affection by the British public and children and adults across the world have heard about the adventures of Paddington, the talking bear.

The world of Paddington has since expanded to include Paddington bear toys, a Paddington bear film franchise and TV series, a Paddington bear shop and various Paddington bear clothes, teddies and even statues. This very British bear is a national treasure but how close to the truth is the story of Paddington? Let’s take a look.

Are there bears in Peru?

Andean Bear, Peru
In the famous stories, Paddington was initially supposed to be from deepest darkest Africa until it was pointed out to the author that there are no bear species native to Africa, so our favourite fictional bear became Peruvian instead.

There is only one species of bear native to South America still in existence and this is the Tremarctos ornatus, the last species of short-faced bear. These bears are also known as the Andean bear, the spectacled bear or the South American bear and are listed as a vulnerable species due to the loss of their natural habitat.

Deforestation, conflict and poaching has fragmented the areas where the spectacled bears live and where they once roamed the Andes across the borders of Columbia, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru, populations are now much sparser. It is estimated there may only be around 2,500 mature bears left in the Andes but their shy nature has made studying them in their native habitats tricky.

One place where it is possible to see spectacled bears in the wild is Machu Picchu. Local populations here have been known to wander through this historic sanctuary much to the delight of those trekking in Nepal and visiting this Incan wonder.

Where is ‘darkest Peru’?

Paddington is an Andean spectacled bear and in the stories he comes from ‘deepest darkest Peru’, but is darkest Peru a real place?

Darkest Peru is not in fact a real place but as spectacled bears like high altitude forest, scrublands and grasslands and largely eat a plant-based diet it is suspected that darkest Peru refers to the eastern parts of Peru where there is plenty of Amazonian rainforest with the wide variety of plants, fruits and vegetation that bears like to eat. For this reason, visitors to Cusco who venture out of the city and into the rainforest may find themselves lucky enough to spot one of these wonderful bears off the beaten track.

Could bears actually talk?

… If you think this is a serious question then maybe you should head back to school!

Whilst Paddington is known for speaking the Queen’s English, it is not anatomically possible for bears to actually speak as we do. There are very few creatures that are able to formulate English words. Bears do however communicate using sounds and body language, like many wildlife species, but their ‘words’ are limited to guttural noises, huffing and chomping their teeth.

What other wildlife is there in Peru?

As well as Andean spectacled bears, other Peruvian wildlife intrepid travellers might spot here include pumas, jaguar, rare species of monkey, anacondas and other reptiles, frogs and salamanders and over 1,800 species of bird. New bird species are still being discovered here!

Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world with the Andean mountains, Amazon rainforest and Pacific coastline making it home to thousands of different wildlife species. Each of these areas is home to rare and unique creatures, making Peru a paradise for animal lovers.

What is Peru famous for?

Inca Trail Header
Peru is on the western coast of South America, north of Chile, south of Ecuador and Columbia and bordered to the east by Brazil and Bolivia. Peru is home to the northern Andes mountains and nestled high amongst the peaks is the world famous, UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. This historical site is a 15th century citadel and settlement built at approximately 2,400m above sea level and often known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’. It is Peru’s most visited tourist destination and one of the most incredible places to visit in the world. To get to Machu Picchu you can get the train to Aguas Calientes and then the bus to the site entrance, or you can take a longer trek and explore the stunning surroundings.

Peru is also famous for other natural wonders which include Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon. Lake Titicaca is surrounded by Titicaca National Reserve and is famed for its still and highly reflective waters. It is also the highest navigable lake in the world and one of the largest in South America. The lake is known as the birthplace of the Incas and along its shores are numerous Incan ruins.

Colca Canyon is a breathtaking river canyon around 150 miles or 240 km to the west of Lake Titicaca. This area is popular with those wanting to trek in Peru as the remote landscapes, incredible scenery and fascinating agricultural landmarks are a delight to discover as you walk through this unique mountainous region.

The capital city of Peru is Lima which is whole other experience in itself. The sights, smells, sounds and structures of this buzzing metropolis are an assault on the senses for visitors and arriving in Peru here is the absolute best way to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture. The high city of Cusco is another highlight of Peru and the gateway to many of the best trekking routes in Peru.

Why visit Peru?

If the local wildlife, natural sights and interesting culture of Peru described above sounds right up your street then trekking in Peru should probably feature highly on your list! The Kandoo team particularly like Peru as a trekking destination as the combination of history, culture and architecture make for a truly unique trekking experience. Hiking through the Andes will take you back in time and give you insights into those who walked here before you, where they lived, how they existed here and why they decided to call this stunning country home.

Get in touch with the travel experts at Kandoo to book your Peru experience now and discover all these amazing places for yourself … you might even spot one of Paddington’s relatives!