Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Some 100 kilometers and four hours into our trip to Manu National Park, we arrived in a small town called Paucartambo. We stopped there for a short break, both to stretch our legs and to explore the town.

Paucartambo, with its many tiny squares, narrow and stony streets, big houses with small balconies, a well-preserved old bridge, and a pretty church, looks like a typical small colonial town. As you can see in the photos below, all the houses in town are white, have blue balconies and windows, and look freshly painted. In general, the whole town looks unusually clean and tidy. If it weren’t for locals in traditional Peruvian outfits, you could be misled into thinking that you got magically transported to another country.

But if you keep on walking around the town, you’ll find clues suggesting that Paucartambo is indeed a Peruvian town. For example, on its main square you’ll find an interesting fountain with bronze statues of various mythical characters important to local Indians.

Every year on July 15th, this sleepy town holds a three-day festival–Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen–that draws thousands of pilgrims and revelers from across southern Peru. During the festival, the dancers portray the struggle between good and evil, wearing colorful costumes and exotic masks impersonating the characters depicted in the fountain. We did not get to see the festival, but the pictures I saw of it looked amazing; so if you are planning to travel in Peru in the month of July, make sure to visit Paucartambo for the festival.

On the streets of Paucartambo:

The old bridge and political advertising on the nearby houses: