A Guide To Moyobamba
Moyobamba, with a population of about 35,000, is the capital of the Department of San Martin and about 12 hours by bus from Chiclayo. Locals call it “the city of orchids” and claim that about 3,500 species have been identified in the area.
History: Moyobamba is the oldest town in Peru's Amazon Basin, having been established as an Inca outpost in the late 15th century.
The Spaniards founded a town here in 1542, but nothing is left of those early days owing, in part, to devastating earthquakes in 1990 and 1991, which demolished most of the city.
Geography: At an altitude of 860 m (2,820 ft), this town has a hot, humid, Amazonian climate, and the exuberant surroundings are rich in flora and waterfalls.
Attractions: Several gardens and plantations sell or exhibit orchids, including San Francisco Botanical Gardens, a short mototaxi ride from the centre.
Three km (2 miles) outside the city is The Waqanki Center, which is a former farm that is now being allowed to return to its natural, cloud-forest state. The property covers an area of about 100 hectares (247 acres), and has a topography that ranges from 900m (2,950ft) to a highest point of 1,300m (4,265 ft). Some 150 species of orchid have been replanted in the botanic garden section, and there is also a look-out point brimming with 26 species of hummingbirds. It is possible to stay on site in one of the three bungalows of the Fruiteater Lodge.
Other nearby destinations include San Mateo Hot Springs, 5 km (3 miles) south of the centre, and especially popular with locals at weekends.
Of various waterfalls, the most popular are Cataratas del Gera and Cascadas Paccha, both reachable by a mototaxi ride, followed by a short walk through rainforest.
There are several eco-tourism conservation areas in the province of Moyobamba. Not far from the city is the Santa Elena Natural Reserve, where canoe tours can be taken to enjoy the flora and fauna.
To visit the Tingana Ecological Reserve, centered on the Avisado River, you need a full day, departing Moyobamba early. Alternatively, you can stay overnight in the Reserve, in rudimentary accommodation.
Those that take the trouble to visit Tingana are rewarded with pristine forest and wetland, that boasts a huge variety of flora and fauna. Seven local families are employed here to preserve the environment, keep the river clean, work as guides and provide food and lodging.
Our birding tours spend a night in Moyobamba in order to have time to enjoy the various bird species at the Waqanki Center: