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The Pongo de Mainique is a water gap (canyon) in Peru, being 45 metres (50 yd) wide and 3 kilometres (2 mi) long, with 900 metres (3,000 ft) to 300 metres (1,000 ft) high cliffs.[1][2] It is the only break in the entire Vilcabamba mountain range. It also divides the Urubamba River (a headwater of the Amazon River) between Upper Urubamba and Lower Urubamba. It is considered the most dangerous whitewater pass on the Urubamba; however, many boats traverse it, depending on seasonal river conditions. It is crossed by the Inca Bridge, ancient secret entrance to the Machu Picchu.

Pongo de Mainique
The Andes of southern Peru, geographical reconnaissance along the seventy-third meridian (1916) (14780168924).jpg
Thirty-foot canoe in a rapid above Pongo de Mainique. (1916)
Map showing the location of Pongo de Mainique
Map showing the location of Pongo de Mainique
Location Peru
La Convención Province, Cuzco
Coordinates12°14′15.72″S 72°49′18.73″W / 12.2377000°S 72.8218694°W / -12.2377000; -72.8218694Coordinates: 12°14′15.72″S 72°49′18.73″W / 12.2377000°S 72.8218694°W / -12.2377000; -72.8218694
Length3 kilometres (2 mi)
Width45 metres (50 yd)

It is a global biodiversity hotspot; six square miles of rainforest around the canyon contains more species of life than any other similar-sized area on Earth.[3]

The rapids of the Pongo de Mainique were used as a filming location for key scenes of Werner Herzog's 1982 film Fitzcarraldo starring Klaus Kinski.[4] In a 2006 survey of "15 of the world's top travel writers" by The Observer, Monty Python actor and BBC travel documentarist Michael Palin named it his "favourite place in the world".[5]


Sources consulted
  1. ^ Stromquist, Tamara (2000). "Paititi (ARA Winter 2000)". Macaw Landing Foundation's Ecotourism. Archived from the original on 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2007-08-18. Onward we went to Pongo de Mainique, a 50-yard (46 m)-wide, two-mile (3 km)-long canyon through which flows the Urubamba River on its way from Cusco. This canyon is the only break in the entire Vilcabamba Mountain Range. The canyon has 3,000-foot (910 m)-high walls, 30 veil-like waterfalls and is extraordinarily beautiful.
  2. ^ Llama Travel. "Cusco Tourist Information". Peru Tourist Information. Retrieved 2008-07-18. The Pongo de Mainique, a long, but beautiful, bus ride from Cusco, is a narrow gorge, with 300 m-high cliffs on either side of the Urubamba River, with waterfalls pouring down into the river.
  3. ^ Wildlife Conservation Society (2001). "Surveys and protection of endangered wildlife in the Pongo". Macaw Landing Foundation's Field Projects. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2007-08-18. WCS wishes to protect the Pongo because the lowland rainforests and mid-montane cloud forests within a radius of five miles (8 km) of the Pongo possibly comprise the single most biologically-diverse site on the face of the Earth.
  4. ^ Source requiring two languages:
  5. ^ Wilkinson, Carl, ed. (2006-01-08). "My favourite place in the world". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-08-18.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External linksEdit

Pictures and text

Vanackeren, Guy (2003). "Kiteni et le Pongo de Mainique". Aventura Latino Americana (in French). – Pictures of the Pongo de Mainique (4th to 8th)