In the cloud-covered hills above Tarapoto, the pueblo of Lamas sits on a ridge overlooking a fertile valley. You’ll find plenty of things to do in the area, including coffee and cacao tours, visiting waterfalls, ayahuasca ceremonies, cultural centers, small museums, traditional wares, native rituals and dances, and even fossil hunting.
An abundance of rare fruits, medicinal plants, and fossils
The farms, or chacras, in the area produce a bounty of tropical plants including coffee, cacao, coconut, sugarcane and other fruits and spices you’ve likely never heard of. To get a taste of what this area has to offer, consider visiting Lamas’ morning market. Every morning before sunrise, people arrive from their farms on the surrounding hillsides to sell produce from their farms.
The fertile land produces an abundance of crops but the main cash crops are sugar cane, coffee, cacao and musk hibiscus (Abelmoschus moschatus). Tours of these farms can be arranged, which may include demonstrations of harvesting and processing as well as tastings of the products made from these plants (the coffee here is superb).
The cacao is some of the best in the world and is exported to every corner of the globe in the finest of chocolates.
The cañazo (fermented and distilled sugar cane alcohol) will burn your throat and give you one hell of a buzz — and it costs about the same as bottled water, two soles for half a liter.
Many medicinal plants grow in the high jungle, and the natives know how to use almost all of them: oje, huito, ayahuasca, sacha ajo, chuchuwasi, coca and many more.
Fossils of ammonite and other shelled creatures dot the local riverbeds; you can either collect your own with a guide or purchase polished fossils in Lamas.
Visiting ancient ruins
If archaeology is more your thing, you’ll find an ancient enigma just above the village of Pamashto, a short ride from Lamas. Here, a large stone circle, aligned to the rising sun on a certain day, sits atop a grassy hill. Nobody knows who built this structure; some say it may have been the Chancas or possibly the Chachapoyas, yet no one alive truly knows. You won’t find these ruins in any guide book and they are largely unknown even to the people in the area. They are also on private property. On June 21 — the Winter Solstice — a gathering is held at the stone circle to watch the alignment of the rising. Ask for permission to visit and you might be invited to join the festivities.
Getting to Lamas from Tarapoto: just a short trip away.
This beautiful location is less than an hour from Tarapoto but feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The quiet hills are a nice place to relax and take a break after a ceremony or trek.
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A version of this article previously appeared in Tarapoto Life