Finca Las Piedras | Field Projects International
 

Finca Las Piedras is located in Peru’s Madre de Dios region in southeastern Peru and is operated by the Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon (ASA).

Finca Las Piedras was established in 2016 with the purchase of a property containing abandoned agricultural fields and rain forest in various degrees of disturbance, ranging from heavily degraded to mostly intact. It is the site of the ASA’s various projects in biological research and monitoring and sustainable tropical agriculture.

The site is situated at the edge of the agricultural frontier that expanded following the paving of the Interoceanic Highway that now connects Cusco in the Peruvian Andes with ports on Brazil’s Atlantic coast. Bordering the property to the east are state-owned, privately-managed Brazil nut concessions that stretch to the border with Bolivia; beyond that lies a vast expanse of pristine rainforest that extends, essentially unbroken, for hundreds of kilometers into the Amazon Basin.

Peru’s Madre de Dios region is among the most biodiverse on the planet, and boasts world records for birds, mammals, plants, and invertebrates. Visitors to Finca Las Piedras have the opportunity to observe an amazing variety of lifeforms inhabiting a diverse range of tropical habitats.

FLP by Numbers

Field Station FAQs

Layout of the Field Station

Finca Las Piedras has several main facilities—a large dormitory, a dining hall, several shadehouses, and a butterfly flight cage. These facilities are located in a cleared area of about 2 hectares, and back up to a rain forest that extends for hundreds of kilometers to the Bolivian border and beyond, and which is frequented by monkeys, toucans, several macaw species, and, of course, a dizzying variety of insects and other smaller creatures.

Water comes from a well on site that is pumped to a cistern using solar power, and is purified before use. Electricity is also provided by solar panels, and is available for powering electronic devices 24 hours per day. The site employs composting toilets, and there is a shared bathing platform over a crystal clear stream that runs through an ‘aguajal,’ the local name for a forest of Mauritia palms.

Available Housing

Housing at Finca Las Piedras is in shared dorms, with shared bathrooms nearby.

Bedding, including a pillow, sheets, and a blankets, are provided at the field site. Other basic necessities such as toilet paper and towels are provided. Laundry service is not available, however sheets are changed weekly and visitors are free to wash laundry by hand using water from the nearby stream. Visitors must also bring their own insect repellent, medications, headlamps, batteries, battery chargers, and detergent and/or soap for bathing, washing clothes, etc.

Dining Options

The ‘comedor,’ or dining hall, is where meals are prepared by ASA staff and eaten on a fixed schedule, to maximize time spent in the field. Cuisine at the site is a mix of Peruvian dishes from the coast, Andes, and Amazon regions, as well as international fare. Meals typically include a base of rice, pasta, or potatoes, meat (chicken or fish is typically served once per day; beef is not served for reasons related to the environmental impact of cattle in the rain forest, and vegetables. Vegetarian and vegan options are always available upon request with advance notice. All meals are prepared with fresh, local ingredients, with many products sourced directly from the ASA’s fields. Snacks are available in the comedor throughout the day and night, as are tea, coffee, and drinking chocolate.

The food at Finca Las Piedras is GOOD, particularly in comparison to the meals researchers would make if they were in charge of their own cooking. Peru is also known to have among the most tasty and diverse food in South America, and visitors regularly comment on the excellence of the site’s menu.

Weather

The weather at Finca Las Piedras is generally moderate, with a lot of rain in the months of December, January, and February (‘invierno,’ or winter in the Amazon); the months of June, July, and August are known as ‘verano,’ or summer, and are typically much drier. Also during this time, cold fronts that are usually accompanied by winds and rain, known locally as ‘friajes,’ sweep north over the region from Patagonia and cause temperatures to drop markedly. These friajes can last from 1-7 days and temperatures during previous episodes have dropped to the low 50s F (~9-10 degrees Celsius). Thus, it is important to always be prepared for warm and cold weather, as well as heavy rain or lots of sun.

Communication from the Jungle

No matter how removed one gets from urban life, there’s always a way to get a message to the outside world. There is no wifi at Finca Las Piedras, but a passable cell signal does reach the site. Those wishing to stay in touch with friends and family back home should consider renting a local cell phone, purchasing a sim card and voice/data plan from the Lima airport or in Puerto Maldonado, or enabling international calling or texts through their home carrier. Only two Peruvian networks reach the field site: Claro and Entel (Movistar does not have a signal). There are always cell phones available to visitors for emergencies, check in upon arrival to the site, coordinate essential logistics, etc.


Travel to Finca Las Piedras

  • Lima-Andes 

    Flying to Lima, Peru

    One can fly to Lima on a number of international airline carriers. With advance notice, it is possible to book a roundtrip ticket from Chicago or Washington D.C., USA, to Lima, Peru, for ~$800 USD, but these prices will vary depending on your origin.  As with any other location, delaying booking a flight will increase your travel prices. Travel is ideal when conducted overnight, in time to catch a second domestic flight to your final destination, Puerto Maldonado.

    Here are some good places to begin searching for flights online: KayakTravelocityOrbitzExpedia.

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    Getting to Puerto Maldonado

    You can get to Puerto Maldonado either by bus or plane. The bus can takes 21 hours to get to Cuzco, followed by an overnight trip from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado.  Although this trip is long, it is cheap ($150 or so for the whole trip), and can provide you with some of the most amazing views of the Andes and cloud forests.

    A flight to Puerto Maldonado is the shortest and most efficient way to get across the Andes, but it is also more expensive. You can fly to Puerto via LAN, Taca, or Star Peru (in order of overall decreasing cost), for anywhere from $180 to $300 for a round trip ticket. It is easier to book LAN or Taca online than it is to book with Star Peru. There are roughly three flights per day to Puerto Maldonado from Lima via Cuzco and getting in as early as possible is advisable.

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    Final Journey to Finca Las Piedras

    Finca Las Piedras is located about an hour north of Puerto Maldonado and then two kilometers along a small, dirt road from the Interoceanic Highway. We will arrange overland transportation from Puerto Maldonado to the site for all of our programs.

  • visa

    Obtaining a visa to Peru

    No visa is required for a visit of up to 90 days for an American citizen. You can get a stamp in your passport at the Lima airport. If you are staying for over a month make sure to ask for the full 90 days or they give you the default of 30 days.

    Visa requirements for citizens of all other countries can be found here.

    Begin the application process early. You will need an airline ticket before you can apply. If you live in a city with an embassy then it should take about 3 days to get your visa. If you mail it in it should take a week.

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