• Amazonas


  • Amazonas


  • Nieva River


  • Kampankis Project

    Cultural Documentary

~ Nieva River Amazonas ~

Amazonas Conservation Initiative

is dedicated to science-based conservation of threatened wildlife and their habitats, and to sustaining positive human–environment interactions with indigenous people who call the rain forest Home.

We believe conservation success is defined by helping nature thrive so the people who depend on it live productive and sustainable lives.

It means a protected forest with old-growth trees, clean river water, and honoring the traditions of indigenous people so they may live in harmony with nature.
And to strengthen the rain forest ecosystem of the Kampankis area by facilitating sound conservation principles and supporting protection of the community land.

In the face of climate change and other threats to the ecosystems that sustain our planet, we continue to work urgently to save more intact landscapes and the diverse species within. We are dedicated to our mission: to conserve biologically diverse landscapes in Amazonas, in concert with local cultures, for the well-being of the planet.

Pamau Nain Conservation Concession
South of our research area is the northern boundary of the Pamau Nain Conservation Concession.

Following extensive work with 11 indigenous Awajún communities and the regional government of Amazonas, Peru, the Pamau Nain Conservation Concession was declared, protecting nearly 115,000 acres of pristine Amazon rain forest.

The indigenous Awajún people have been stewards of the rain forest for thousands of years.

Now, with the support of Awajún leader Eduardo Weepiu Daekat and renowned anthropologist Peter Lerche, they have obtained the legal right to manage a large swath of their ancestral territory.

Not only will the Pamau Nain Conservation Concession preserve the pristine Amazon rain forest in which they live – it will help to preserve their traditional way of life.

~ Kampankis Mountains ~

Amazonas Peru

Amazonas ~ 38,850 sq km (15,000 sq mi) consisting of regions covered by rain forests and mountain ranges. The rain forest zone predominates (72.93%) and it extends to the north over its oriental slope, up to the border with Ecuador in the summits of the Cordillera del Cóndor.

Our area of research: The Kampankis Mountains that has been inhabited for centuries by Awajún people. Measuring ~180 km long but just 10 km wide, the Kampankis form a knife-thin ridge separated from the Cordillera del Cóndor to the west by a thin strip of lowland forest 40–60km wide.

The northern end of the mountains, with a maximum elevation of 1,435m, extends from Santa Maria de Nieva into the Zona Reservada Santiago Comaina.
The southern ridge extends south from Santa Maria de Nieva with elevations reaching 1600m into the Zona Reservada Rio Nieva.
This southern section of Kampankis with Nieva River following its western slope is called by some as Shamak Nain (mountains of “Shamak” bird).


Awajún Territory, Amazonas Peru

peru map



The Andes Mountains cut through the Amazonas wilderness leading to the
lowland jungle of Nieva River and Awajún Indigenous Communities.


During a 2012 Chicago Field Museum RAPID study in the Kampankis a species inventory found: Plants 1,100, Fishes 60, Amphibians 60, Reptiles 48, Birds 350, Mammals 73.

Chicago Field Museum RAPID study

Geology: The Kampankis Mountains are well described in the geologic literature. They are composed of continental and marine deposits that range in age from the Jurassic (160 million years old) to the Neogene (5 million years old) and include eight geologic formations in which varieties of sandstone, limestone, and siltstone predominate.

Vegetation: The vegetation of the Kampankis Mountains varies with geology and elevation. Five primary vegetation types have been defined in the Kampankis areas: 1) riparian vegetation along streams and rivers; 2) lower hill forests between 300 and 700m elevation, on sandy to clayey soils; 3) mid-elevation forests at 700–1,000m, on sandy to clayey soils; 4) forests on limestone outcrops and associated soils, between 700 and 1,100m; and 5) low forests on sandstone outcrops and associated soils on the highest slopes and ridges of the range, at 1,000–1,435m elevation.

Birds: The Kampankis avifauna is a diverse mix of lowland Amazonian and Andean foothill bird communities. Through field observations and recordings, the ornithological team registered 350 bird species, of which 56 are typically montane.
Several rare and little-known species recorded during the inventory—like Leucopternis princeps, Wetmorethraupis sterrhopteron, and Entomodestes leucotis — are known from very few sites in Peru.

Mammals: 57 of the 79 species of medium-sized and large mammals believed to occur in the area include: White-bellied spider monkey Ateles belzebuth (Endangered), Common woolly monkey Lagothrix lagotricha, Juruá red howler monkey Alouatta juara, White-tailed Titi monkey Callicebus discolor, Saddleback tamarin Saguinus fuscicollis, Saki monkey Pithecia aequatorialis, Owl monkey Aotus vociferans, Tayra Eira barbara, Jaguar Panthera onca (near threatened), Puma Puma concolor, Short-eared dog Atelocynus microtis (near threatened), Tapir Tapirus terrestris (Vulnerable), Giant armadillo Priodontes maximus (Vulnerable), Giant anteater Myrmecophaga tridactyla (Vulnerable), River otter Lontra longicaudis, Tamandua Tamandua tetradactyla, Chestnut sac-winged bat (Wagner's sac-winged bat) Cormura brevirostris (Rare), and Lesser Long-tongued Bat Choeroniscus minor which prefers undisturbed forests.

UPDATE: An establish tribe of the Peruvian Red Uakari Monkey, Cacajao calvus ucayalii (Vulnerable), has been confirmed in an area ~34mi/55km SSE of Sawi Entsa near the settlement of Candamo (05°31′S 077°39W′; altitude 1,421 m a.s.l.). The Peuvian Red Uakari is an Amazonian primate with peculiar features; it has a bright red, bald face, a short tail, and ruddy fur. This monkey is highly specialized and is found mainly in palm tree habitats. This population is isolated from the other known uakari populations in the eastern lowlands, which raises questions concerning their taxonomic status and biogeographical history.

Kampankis Project

Kampankis Project: The next phase of our documentary series begins with “Kampankis Expedition” to document the lifestyle, language, music and traditions of five Awajún communities; a rare opportunity with special permission from Community Chiefs to live among their people on an 13-day journey.

From Lima (1A) a flight takes us the city of Jaén (2A); the capital of the Jaén Province in the Cajamarca Region in Peru, located in the high jungle of northern Peru at 785m elevation. -5.7416655 -78.7418803

A mountain road trip leads us to Chiriaco (3A) located on the majestic Marañón River and gateway to the lowland Amazonas jungle.
Overnight in local hotel.

With the high jungle behind the road continues to Puente Nieva (4A), on the Nieva River. And the beginning of our river exploration to the Awajún communities on the Nieva River.
Overnight at rustic hotel or tent camping.

  • Over the next days our travels will take us to five Awajún Communities and to the city of Santa Maria de Nieva (map02):
  • Puente Nieva
    -4.8243757 -77.933944
  • Ipakuma
    -4.9340007 -77.9569952
  • Kayamas
    -5.0893648 -77.9624872
  • Sawientsa
    -5.1647214 -77.9118977
  • Ugkum
    -5.201705 -77.9137397
  • 01: Santa Maria de Nieva
    -4.5909801 -77.8518711

Puente Nieva → Sawientsa

From Puente Nieva, our operations base for Kampankis Mountains exploration (Map02), our river trip begins aboard a 10-meter aluminum canoe powered by a “peke-peke” motor to the Sawiensta Community (56km).
Overnight in community building or tent camping.



Sawientsa → Ugkum

Nieva River flows north-to-south 150km parallel to and west of the Kampankis Mountains. Our route up the Nieva from Sawientsa continues to Ugkum: 12km by river and about 3-hour hike to Ugkum.
A 2-day stay at Ugkum - Overnight in community building or tent camping.


Ugkum → Kayamas

We now head downriver to Kayamas.
Overnight in community building or tent camping.


Kayamas → Ipakuma

Following the river north we stop at Ipakuma (24km)
Overnight in community building or tent camping.


Ipakuma → Puente Nieva

Our river journey ends as we arrive at Puente Nieva.

Road trip to Japaime 23km. An afternoon drive, 24km, to the ridge of Kampankis Mountains (Loreto on Map06).
Return to Japaime.
Overnight in community or tent camping.


Kampankis Project Awajún Communities

Puente Nieva → Ipakuma

Ipakuma → Kayamas

Kayamas → Sawientsa

Sawientsa → Ugkum

Awajún Village bordering Pamau Nain
Awajún Community

Road trip to Loreto Border

With our return from the Kampankis Mountains
we drive to Santa Maria de Nieva.

Here, at the confluence of the Marañón and Nieva rivers, the city of ~3,000 is home to Awajún, Huambisa and mestizo residents.
Overnight local hotel.

Our journey ends with a road trip back to Chiriaco and then Jaén.

Wildlife Photos

  • White-bellied spider monkey

    White-bellied spider monkey Ateles belzebuth (Endangered)
  • Common woolly monkey

    Common woolly monkey Lagothrix lagotricha
  • Juruá red howler monkey

    Juruá red howler monkey Alouatta juara
  • Saddleback tamarins

    Saddleback tamarin Saguinus fuscicollis
  • Jaguar

    Jaguar Panthera onca
  • Short-eared dog

    Short-eared dog Atelocynus microtis

Our Kampankis Project is the first of a documentary series exploring Awajún life;
their customs, language, traditions and, importantly,
their commitment to protecting the wildlife and the future of their ancestral lands.

Our Project is a collaboration between anthropologist Peter Lerche, authority on the indigenous people of Amazonas,
and Davarian Hall, founder of the Amazonas Conservation Initiative.

For information on how you can contribute to the success of the Kampankis Project
and enrich the lives of the Awajún, contact


Who We Are