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A view of the Huallaga
Map of the Amazon Basin with the Huallaga River highlighted
|Region||Huánuco Region, Loreto Region, Pasco Region, San Martín Region|
|Length||1,080 km (670 mi)|
|• average||3,800 m3/s (130,000 cu ft/s)|
The Huallaga River is a tributary of the Marañón River, part of the Amazon Basin. Old names for this river include Guallaga and Rio de los Motilones. The Huallaga is born on the slopes of the Andes in central Peru and joins the Marañón before the latter reaches the Ucayali River to form the Amazon. Its main affluents are the Monzón, Mayo, Biabo, Abiseo and Tocache rivers. Coca is grown in most of those valleys, which are also exposed to periodic floods.
Although it runs for 700 miles (1,100 km), it remains unnavigable for most part. For nearly its entire length the Huallaga is an impetuous torrent running through a succession of gorges. It has forty-two rapids (pongos) and it crosses the Andes, forming the Pongo de Aguirre gorge. From this point, 140 miles (230 km) from the Amazon, the Huallaga can be ascended by larger river boats (lanchas) to the port city of Yurimaguas, Loreto.
Although there are no defined boundaries, the river is commonly divided into two or three sections. From the town of Tocache in San Martin to the source of the river is generally referred to as the Upper Huallaga. Regions of the river are also referred to as central Huallaga (usually from Tocache or Juanjui to Chazuta), and the lower Huallaga (usually from Chazuta to Yurimaguas where the Huallaga meets the Marañon). These divisions are for general reference, and are independent of the "highland" and "lowland" jungle regions of the Amazon Rainforest.
Between the Huallaga and the Ucayali lies the famous "Pampa del Sacramento," a level region of stoneless alluvial lands covered with thick, dark forests, first entered by Christian missionaries in 1726. It is about 300 miles (480 km) long, from north to south, and varies in width from 40 to 100 kilometers. Many streams, navigable for canoes, penetrate this region from the Ucayali and the Huallaga. In addition to peasants, it is still occupied by many indigenous communities, such as the Cocama-Cocamilla.
The river and the riversides suffer point source pollution, utilized as an interminable garbage dump. At least one chute for garbage trucks is installed.
The Huallaga River supports a myriad of wildlife and vegetation. The river is especially rich in amphibian life. A total of 18 species of frogs have been recorded from it, including the Prostherapis femoralis, Phyllodromus pulchellus and Dendrobates reticulatus.
Since the 1980s, the primary coca growing and drug trafficking activities in Peru have been in the Upper Huallaga Valley.
The coca is flown to Colombia, where it is used to create cocaine, which is subsequently shipped to the United States.
Vladimiro Montesinos, ex-head of Peru's intelligence service, is reported to have received $50,000 for every plane laden with drugs allowed to leave the Huallaga Valley.
Eric Fleming who played trail boss Gil Favor in the long-running Western TV series Rawhide was killed in the Huallaga River. During the shooting of location shots for an MGM film titled High Jungle on the Huallaga River on September 28, 1966, Fleming fell from a capsized dug-out canoe after paddling it beyond the rapids. His body was lost in the turbulent water and was not recovered until three days later.
The Amazon River in South America is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, and the disputed second longest river in the world.
The Marañón River is the principal or mainstem source of the Amazon River, arising about 160 km to the northeast of Lima, Peru, and flowing through a deeply eroded Andean valley in a northwesterly direction, along the eastern base of the Cordillera of the Andes, as far as 5° 36′ southern latitude; from where it makes a great bend to the northeast, and cuts through the jungle Andes, until at the Pongo de Manseriche it flows into the flat Amazon basin. Although historically, the term "Marañon River" often was applied to the river all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, nowadays the Marañon River is generally thought to end at the confluence with the Ucayali River, after which most cartographers label the ensuing waterway the Amazon River.
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The main source of the largest river in the world has been a subject of exploring and speculations for centuries and continues to cause arguments even today. Determining the origin of the Amazon River has evoked broad debates among scholars, explorers, and travelers all over the world. Different definitions of a river's source have been used and continue to be used. Generally, four main criteria can be applied to determine the main source of a river: source flow rate, source length, watershed area of the source, and an altitude of its spring. At present, the Amazon River is not considered to have one unique source but a number of headstream areas. These are headwaters of three different Peruvian rivers that can be found in the high Andes: the Marañón, the Apurímac, and the Mantaro.
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