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Oxapampa, Peru: The secret Austrian-German community in the Peruvian Jungle

Updated on June 5, 2014
Flag of Oxapampa. Source: AgainErick WMC.
Flag of Oxapampa. Source: AgainErick WMC.

LOCATION AND ACCESS

Oxapampa is a city 5,941 feet (1,814m) above sea level located in the Pasco Region of Central Peru, in an area known as the Selva Alta or “high jungle”.

Lima is 282 miles (454km) away from Oxapampa and the journey by road will take about 8 hours (in a four wheeled drive vehicle), and 11 to 12 hours by bus.

Roads around the area are mainly rubble surfaced or dirt tracks, and distances between places may seem reasonable until you factor in the poor condition of the roads which are frequently washed away by floods and landslides.

There are a number of tour companies providing package holidays, guided tours and activity based trips to Oxapampa and its surrounding regions.

Pasco Region of Peru. Source: Berndw WMC.
Pasco Region of Peru. Source: Berndw WMC.

HISTORY

About a third of the population living in Oxapampa are descendants of a Tyrolean (Austrian) and Prussian (German) community of 70 families that settled in the region in 1859, initially in Pozuzo which is 50 miles (80km) away.

The colonists originally arrived at Port Callao in Lima after a four month journey by sea. They immediately encountered problems as Peru was entering a state of civil war. Some chose to stay in Lima while others sailed to Port Huacho where they were not well received by the local authorities.

The group of 300 left Huacho and headed across mountains and jungle, frequently getting lost, finally arriving at Pozuzo two years later with only 165 of the group remaining. Some had died and others had grown disheartened, leaving to work in local ranches.

In 1891 a group of the colonists left Pozuzo, which was now an affluent and important cattle breading town, and founded Oxapampa.

Oxapampa Church.
Oxapampa Church.

PRESENT DAY

Today Oxapampa is a thriving city with continuing economic development due to the natural resources and fertile land surrounding it. The 10,000 plus population are a vibrant mix of German, Austrian and Peruvian culture reflected in the local cuisine and entertainment.

The main attraction and uniqueness of the city itself is the numerous chalet style buildings of European design which stand out against the tropical jungle backdrop.

Mass tourism has not reached the area so, although classed as a city, it retains a peaceful rural small village feel having at its centre a plaza consisting of lawns, trees and plants, providing stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Due to its remoteness mass tourism will probably never reach the region anyway, but the city does go to great lengths to advertise and promote visitors to the area so all are made welcome. There are tourist stands and guides as well as a city slogan translated as “a clean city for tourists”.

Oxapampa Plaza.
Oxapampa Plaza.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO AROUND OXAPAMPA

Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park: The park is 38 miles (62km) north of Oxapampa and is ideal for trekking and wild life watching inside its tropical forests. Be aware that to enter the park requires approval from the relevant authorities in Oxapampa.

It has a diverse range of trees and plants, such as cedar, oak and walnut alongside mosses, ferns and orchids. The wild life includes the jaguar, giant otter, spectacled bear, 306 species of butterflies and 321 species of birds.

The area is particularly considered to be perfect for bird watchers seeking those species rarely seen elsewhere.

For the really adventurous boats can be hired for expeditions along the local rivers navigating deep into the jungle.

Bio Westreicher: A small zoo with Emus.

Catarata de Anana and Catarata Rayantambo: Waterfalls.

Catarata Rio Tigre: Another waterfall but with an impressive suspension bridge over the river.

Piscigranja: A trout farm.

There are also preserved churches (for example, a pink one in Oxapampa), numerous parks, pottery makers, an orchid garden and a cane liquor plant in the surrounding area.

Adventure activities in the area include hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, rock climbing, kayaking and rafting,

Catarata Rio Tigre Waterfall. Source: Harley Calvert WMC.
Catarata Rio Tigre Waterfall. Source: Harley Calvert WMC.
There are Jaguars in the Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park. Source: Pascal Blacier WMC.
There are Jaguars in the Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park. Source: Pascal Blacier WMC.

FOOD, DRINK AND ACCOMMODATION

Local delicacies include a large variety of cheeses, honey, coffees, fresh trout and cane liquor. There are a number of fresh organic products for sale and also German pastries.

There are a number of restaurants’, pubs/inns and hotels and hostels with reasonable price ranges’ reflecting the individual quality of the accommodation and food.

Oxapampa Chalet.
Oxapampa Chalet.

WEATHER

The daytime temperature remains about +25C and +26C all year round. While the nighttime temperature is also uniform, averaging +12C to +13C all year, only dropping to +8 C in June.

Rainfall increases between November and March with 1.4in (35mm) to 2.2in (55mm) per month and between May and Aug there is normally very little, to no, recorded rainfall.

Humidity reaches around 90% for most of the year only dropping to around 82% in the month of July.

This is a tropical jungle area with high temperatures and high humidity and combined with the height above sea level it may not be to everyone’s liking or in their comfort zone.

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@ 2013 Brian McKechnie (aka WorldEarth)

Map of Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park. Source: Lehr E, Moravec J, Cusi JC WMC.
Map of Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park. Source: Lehr E, Moravec J, Cusi JC WMC.

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    • World Earth profile image
      Author

      Brian The Guitar Man 2 years ago from Old Wolf Cottage

      Certainly one place I would love to visit.

    • profile image

      Oleg wanka 2 years ago

      this place is wonderful.

    • World Earth profile image
      Author

      Brian The Guitar Man 4 years ago from Old Wolf Cottage

      Thank you for your kind comments. It is indeed a very unique place.

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      This hub was very well written and interesting to read! Peru sounds like a lovely place.....voted up and interesting! :)