San Martín, Peru - Polarsteps
Tarapoto, Peru: Tarapoto was founded in 1782 with the full name of Santa Cruz de los Motilones de Tarapoto. Tarapoto is the main tourist town for people going into the Amazon. The town itself is nothing special, no interesting architecture, the parks are small and few and in need of a lot of attention. The traffic noise is terrible, as is the case pretty much everywhere in South America. People come here to use it as a jump-off point to the Amazon, not to visit the city itself. Besides bringing in tourists heading into the Amazon, Tarapoto's other main source of income is retail services and agriculture (coffee, corn, rice, cocoa, tobacco, and more). Outside the city, in the mountains nearby, you can find many waterfalls, lakes, rivers, climbing and hiking areas, and mountain biking trails.
So, my impressions: It's surprisingly sandy, and reminds me of being in a coastal town. It's also a normal South American town—noisy, terrible traffic, narrow sidewalks not friendly to people with disabilities. But, that's all just the norm in this part of the world. Visitors complain about it, but those who live here are used to it. I wouldn't say I like the hot and humid afternoons, they remind me of Barranquilla, Colombia, only here in Tarapoto it's even more humid, while in Barranquilla it's a bit hotter. The town has no good parks, the central plaza is in the midst of renovations so it's closed. The main church at the edge of the plaza is not old or big or special in any way. Would I recommend anyone visit Tarapoto? Sure, if you plan on going to Iquitos in the Amazon, or spending most of your time outside of town in the mountains. But, don't bother visiting Tarapoto if you only want to see the city.
My South America Journey