Moyobamba, Peru - Polarsteps
Moyobamba, Peru: Moyobamba was founded in July 1540 with the name Santiago de los Ocho Valles de Moyobamba. The town sits at the base of the eastern slopes of the Andes Mtns, in the Alto Mayo Valley. The population is around 55,000.
Moyobamba has been used as a base for missionaries, soldiers, and merchants heading into the Amazon region. The Mayo River passes alongside the town and it has eight tributaries, hence the "ocho valles" part of its name - 8 valleys. The nickname of the city is "city of orchids" because, around the city, that is outside the city, one can find as many as 3500 species of orchids. At the end of October each year, the city celebrates an Orchid Festival.
The name "Moyobamba" comes from the word "Muyu" of the Quechua language and means "circular", and "Pampa" which means "plain".
The city of Moyobamba was founded in 1540, but the history goes back much further, to 1400. To the time of the wars between the Incas and other tribes. Then came the arrival of the Spanish and things started to change. The original town was terribly damaged by an earthquake in 1746 so they moved the town 4 kilometers east and built a new town.
Moyobamba has been characterized as a city of tolerance, welcoming many different groups of people into their community, including Ashkenazi Jewish families, Sephardic Jews, Austrian, German, and Chinese. There were also influxes of Armenian, Greek, Italians, and English.
In the early 20th century, there was a "rubber rush" in the town of Iquitos (no road access even today, only boat or plane). The population of Moyobamba went from 44,000 in 1897 to as little as 8,000 in 1940. At the end of 1940 WWII refugees from Poland and Serbia. Finally, in 1967/1968, Moyobamba was connected by road to the rest of the country. The 1970s saw more former Europeans arrive, as well as many from the Peruvian coast. In May 1990, there was a 6.9 earthquake that killed 17 and left thousands homeless. Numerous historical buildings were severely damaged, as well. Then in April 1991, there were two more earthquakes, which killed 11 people and left some 20,000 homeless. Also, many more historical buildings were severely and irreparably damaged.
So, my impressions: I like Moyobamba. I have put it at the top of my top 10 list. Moyobamba is considered very safe by people I've spoken with here in town, it is generally much cleaner than any other town I have visited in northern Peru and Ecuador. It has a lively commercial area and city center. Outside of town are areas for hiking and cycling. I'll be here another day but will spend my last day here relaxing and resting before getting started on the next leg of my journey.
My South America Journey