For those who’ve decided to make a relaxing visit to the City of Palms, below we offer 5 essential ideas for a successful stay in the capital of Peru’s northeastern jungle region.
1. Take a selfie in Ahuashiyacu or experience adventure in Pishurayacu
The main reason tourists travel to Tarapoto is to bathe beneath the local waterfalls and emerge refreshed and rejuvenated. The most famous waterfall is Ahuashiyacu, which can be reached on a tour or by taxi at a cost of around S/.75 for the round trip and waiting time. Situated in the heart of the forest, at 40 meters Ahuashiyacu is the highest waterfall. Come and see it, and decide if you dare to jump. Try to arrive as early as possible, as more people tend to arrive later. The entrance fee costs S/.5 Peruvian soles. Take the road to Yurimaguas as far as Kilometer 14, around 25 minutes from Tarapoto.
At Pishurayacu, the challenge is the walk over fairly rugged terrain. It is a 45-minute hike to the waterfall. It is a real adventure getting there; the route crosses a river and involves a steep climb and bamboo rafts. The reward is a natural swimming pool, extensive and refreshing with a small waterfall. Close by you’ll also find the rustic natural hot pools of San José. Take the Yurimaguas road as far as Kilometer 34, around 45 minutes from Tarapoto.
2. Tour the Chullachaqui Theme Park
This is the ideal place to visit with the whole family. Here you can view gigantic paintings and sculptures inspired by Amazon myths and legends, an antiques museum and a series of cages with animals that have been rescued and which remind us all of the importance of conserving the forest. In this mini zoo you will see ocelots, turtles, tapirs and caimans. This is a short, enjoyable tour, ideal for people of all ages.
The entrance fee is S/.5 Peruvian soles, and the park is located on the Yurimaguas road at Kilometer 9.5, around 15 minutes from Tarapoto
3. Sample and buy La Orquídea chocolates
La Orquídea has been in business for more than 15 years and is one of a handful of fine chocolate brands available in Peru’s supermarkets. Those visiting Tarapoto can also enjoy a tour of the factory. Visitors to the factory will be lent a special suit to prevent contamination while they learn about its secrets. You’ll see cacao beans in jute sacks waiting to be processed, enormous toasting machines and the rooms where the chocolate is made. The factory’s bars destined for the Peruvian market have a cacao content of 35%, combined with mocha, pecans, coconut or kiwicha. The bars destined for the export market have a cacao content of 65%, combined with quinoa, kiwicha, cacao nibs or coconut. The factory also makes pure dark chocolate with a 60% or 72% cacao content. All these options are available for sale at the factory.
4. Visit the folkloric community of Lamas
The village of Lamas is located just 30 minutes from Tarapoto. Here you can meet the descendants of the Quechua people who first colonized this area. With their colorful traditional clothing, these people are the guardians of local culture. Visitors can observe local life in the Wayku neighborhood, where children dance in the afternoon. You’ll also find handcraft stores around the village’s main square and in the local shopping center. On Sundays, people come from their smallholdings to gather in the village. This is a very colorful community, with the walls decorated with murals. Don’t forget to take in the panoramic view from the viewing point above the modern section of the village.
Ask for the place where cars leave for Lamas. The fare is just S/.8 soles in a shared vehicle, after which you can tour the community on foot or by motorcycle taxi.
5. Dance until dawn at the Pachanga discotheque
Your last stop should be the latest not-to-be-missed discotheque. Tarapoto has an entire street devoted to entertainment. Jirón Lamas is filled with good bars where you can start the evening, including Stone Wasi, which offers rock music, or the Etnica Cool Bar, with its exotic cocktails… But later in the evening everyone ends up at one of the discotheques. The Pachanga Club has become fashionable recently and offers the best atmosphere. Enjoy!