Like almost nowhere else in Peru, this small jungle town is richly alive with murals and statues that celebrate the culture, plants, and history of this part of the world.
Most of those who visit the department of San Martin, where the jungle city of Tarapoto is located, don’t give themselves a chance to visit one of the gems of this region: the small town of Lamas. This mountainside town is refreshingly cooler than the neighboring city of Tarapoto and is the gateway to areas of a mountainous jungle where most people make a living by farming cacao and coffee.
The town is brim-filled with murals and statues. To walk through the streets of this quiet town is to explore a unique history, and to awaken into a vibrant way of life.
This area was originally inhabited by an indigenous group known as the Waiku, many of who still live in a neighborhood located on the outskirts of Lamas. Understandably, murals within the town of Lamas are deeply inspired by the Waiku culture.
Descendents of the Waiku culture inherit traditions of weaving, basket making, pottery, painting, dance, and music. On most afternoons, buses of tourists arrive from Tarapoto to watch indigenous children and adults dance and play music. It can turn into a superficial photo-op for visitors on tours that whisk them through the town. But visitors can go deeper into their experience by striking up a conversation with locals, or taking a stroll through town to gaze at the colorful art.
Many of the murals in Lamas celebrate important plants of the jungle. Cacao is a particularly important plant since most farmers dedicate themselves towards cultivating this bean. Within the town, you’ll find several shops where you can buy chocolates made with cacao that’s been cultivated nearby.
The coffee bean is also an important crop in this part of the jungle. This is one of the best places in Peru to grow the coffee bean.
If you want to explore ancestral creation stories, make a trip to Lamas to see the street art.
“May the love for our city reflect itself through the care we give to our environment.”
Residents of Lamas are proud of their community and of the cultures that make it what it is. You’ll get this feeling right away when you start talking to locals.