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Adventure, Nature, and Gastronomy in Northern Peru’s High Jungles

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Called the ceja de selva (eyebrow of the jungle) in Spanish, this area is known for its beautiful mountains, clear waters and verdant valleys. This diverse and expansive region of Peru is filled with off-the-beaten-track unique destinations. Here are some top sights.

Adventure

Photo: Ultimate Journeys Peru

Two resource-rich lakes near Chachapoyas

Lake Pomacochas, located in the Bongará Province, spans across an area of three kilometers and is about 100m deep. It is located two hours from Bagua in the downhill direction of the Marginal de la Selva highway. This is a great place for activities such as swimming, fishing, and boating.
El Porvenir is situated in the Alto Mayo Valley of Bagua, which covers an area of 1.5 km. This is a great place to enjoy hikes along the lush, tropical hillsides. If you come to this area, you’ll also find yourself in the midst of the impressive Paccha and Gera Waterfalls.

Conservation areas and coffee routes

You’ll find another sublime birdwatching spectacle at the Abra Patricia Private Conservation Area. Experts agree that this is one of the best places in the country for bird watching. Tanagers, partridges, long-tailed sylphs, hummingbirds, owls, and quetzals are some of the many species that inhabit this area. There are also tour options like the so-called Coffee Route and Orchid Route. Both of these routes begin in Moyobamba, which is the capital of the San Martin department.

Laguna Azul near Tarapoto

This Lagoon is located in the El Sauce district, 16km from the Huallaga River. Another lake, called Laguna Venecia, is located fours kilometers from Tarapoto. Within the area, you can participate in activities such jungle hikes, nighttime canoe trips, visits to artisanal watersports, sport fishing, Pink-Dolphin spotting, rappelling down waterfalls, and visits to native communities.

Gastronomy

Photos: Scott Montgomery
The high jungles of the North of Peru are not only known for their pre-Incan buildings, lagoons, dances, and festivities. Traditional gastronomy also draws many people to these areas. On their returns home, many of these visitors end up hauling back suitcases filled with typical local products such a chetino or molinopampa cheese, bread, mote, chochoca, and green beans.
Despite the fact that cuisine is not so well known, nor sophisticated, it is still some of the most unique within Peru. You’ll find local dishes such as purtumote saltado (boiled beans and corn), juane (chicken and rice mixed together and wrapped in a banana leaf), tamal (mashed corn filled with either meat or cheese, wrapped in banana leaves), as well as the local cheeses and breads are fresh and delicious. Soups and locros (squash stews with potatoes and cheese) are also an excellent option. Other typical dishes include arrolada meat (boiled beef loin stuffed with onions, ground beef, olives, and boiled eggs) chipasmute (stewed beans and sweet corn), guinea pig with potatoes, yucca juane (mashed yucca and chicken wrapped in banana leaves), and stuffed plantains. You’ll also encounter a variety of typical liquors from the region, which include guarapo (maize beer), chuchuhuasi (an herbal liquor made from chuchuhuasi leaves), pur-pur (made from cordial, fruit and seeds), and mora (blackberry) liquor.

Nature

Photo: Scott Montgomery

Gocta waterfalls

This is one of the most spectacular nature-tourism sites in the Amazon region. At 771-meters high, the falls have gained worldwide recognition. With recognition has come a surge in popularity, so be prepared to share the space with others.

The Lagoon of Condors

This lake is on our list not because of its mausoleums, but rather because of its greenish-blue waters and the spectacular views the valleys and mountains that surround it.

Other natural sights

This area also is home to The Orchid Paradise, an outdoor orchid museum located in the Bongará province which houses over 2,500 varieties of orchids. Additionally, there is the Chigliga Waterfall, located in the Shipasbamba- Bongará zone. This waterfall is actually made up of seven separate falls that come together to make a 75-foot expanse. A huge diversity of flora and fauna live here, including the gallito de las rocas (Cock of the Rock), el colibrí cola de spatula (Spatula- Tailed Hummingbird) and el oso de anteojos (Spectacled Bear).

Don’t forget to check out The Bagua Province

Travelers who enjoy camping can visit the Numparket and Chinin waterfalls or the El Porvenir Lagoon. For the more adventurous tourist, there are the Cabiopitec and La Palma caves. The protected forests of the Alto Mayo Valley, located in San Martin, also provide a natural paradise where one can find varieties of birds and animals like the Andean Bear and  Andean Dwarf Deer, as well as a vast diversity of orchids and bromeliads. The beautiful Huaylla Belen valley has a remarkable diversity of ecosystems and has thus become a must for those eco-fans who are headed to the Gran Vilaya.

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Credit: Ultimate Journeys Peru

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