Outside the festival: Things to do in and around Oxapampa


Selvamonos isn’t just about the concerts and cultural events– there are tons of things to do in and around Oxapampa for people with all sorts of different interests!

The nature-minded can take any number of tours offered by the little travel agencies located in the town, as Oxapampa is surrounded by landscapes worthy of a nature documentary. Frankly, one of my favorite activities of the entire weekend was the bus ride home, when I got to see the area surrounding the town from above as we drove up and down the mountains.

There are also some beautiful waterfalls close to the town. Sadly, rainy days prevented us from visiting them, but our fellow campers raved about the natural beauty of the El Tigre Catarata, so look into visiting it if you’re ever in Oxapampa!

If you’re not super into outdoorsy activities, have no fear. Oxapampa is also full of restaurants that offer some really tasty dishes, including traditional foods like Oxapampa trout. Oxapampa is also home to some delectable dairy treats, like locally-produced butter and cheese. We also found food at street side stands for obscenely low prices– 6 fresh picarones for S/. 2, anticuchos de pollo for S/. 1.

One of the highlights of the weekend was our visit to El Wharapo, the aguardiente distillery located near Oxapampa.

Aguardiente is a clear liquor made from fermented sugar cane. The name in Spanish is a sort of portmanteau between the words for “water” (agua) and “burning” (ardiente), and that is exactly what it feels like.

_The water-powered ‘trapiche,’ which extracts the juice from the sugar cane (Photo: Katherine Goicochea/Peru this Week_)

Taking a shot of aguardiente is like getting punched in the nose by a drunk sugar cane. Your eyes water, your nose runs, and you feel the poison burn slowly as it travels down your throat. It smells so offensively saccharine, so rottenly sweet that you almost have to hold your nose as you bring it towards your mouth– and yet, you drink it anyway. And then again, and again, each shot followed by a string of expletives or appeals to the deity of your choice.

If you want a slightly softer (and only slightly) way to drink aguardiente, you can combine it with guarapo, a sort of fermented sugar beer that is produced early in the distillation process to make aguardiente. Guarapo is only fermented for a day, so it’s lightly carbonated but has a fairly negligible alcohol content.

_Ipolito, who’s in charge of producing this magical liquid, standing by the fermenting must that’s going to become aguardiente (Photo: Katherine Goicochea/Peru this Week)_

At El Wharapo, you can buy liter bottles of the stuff for only S/. 10. The bottles are undecorated and unlabeled, which gives the whole transaction a sort of bootleg quality. Upon being handed a bottle, I got the distinct feeling that what I was holding was, essentially, Peruvian moonshine.

Ipolito, one of the men in charge of operating the still at El Wharapo, told us that the aguardiente and guarapo produced there are totally natural, as no additives or flavourings are added during the production process. This is good news for the Selvamonos crowd, who seem, in their majority, to be a bunch of hippies who are eager to get drunk organically.

If you’re leaving Oxapampa, there are also some gorgeous and exciting cities to sée– foremost among them being Pozuzo and La Merced. For more information about La Merced, take a look at our earlier article about the city!Oxapampa is a gorgeous little town surrounded by amazing scenery. Read on for tips on what to visit in the area!



Rachel Chase

Rachel Chase is a proud born-and-bred Minnesotan who’s moved to Lima after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a double major in Spanish and Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies. During her junior year of college, Rachel studied in Peru and loved it so much that she just had to come back. As well as being a dedicated News Editor, Rachel plays the ukulele and sings, as well as trying to devour as many books as she can.