The charming Province of Rodriguez de Mendoza
Rodriguez de Mendoza, a charming Province south-east of Chachapoyas famous for the quality of its coffee and the friendliness of its people, is not even in your guidebook. The reason is a mystery, because it has a surprising selection of local attractions.
Speleologists out there will find beautiful caves. The two famous ones are called Caverna de Leo and Cavernas de Omia. The former is on the land of a man called Leo, hence the name. And the latter belong to Sr. Cesar, who chose to name his caves after his town. The two are serious competitors, by the way. Leo's caves are more famous, because they have been known for longer, while Cavernas de Omia were discovered only two years ago. They are quite similar, so visiting only one would suffice, unless you have a serious interest in caves. There are beautiful stalactites and stalagmites of every shape, and the owner will point out all the special figures, such as the ones resembling the Nativity scene, monkeys, flowers, and even formations with such curious names as “The Congress of the Republic” or “The Bride's Altar”. Some formations are hollow and emit beautiful sounds when played. Entrance is 7-20 soles, depending on the number of people in the group and your negotiation skills.
overpowering smell of sulphur. They are located out in the nature, in a very picturesque spot near the river and with impressive heavy rocks hanging over. Entrance fee is only three soles and there is no time limit to spend in the water. If you get hungry, tasty dishes, including fried trout, are served nearby. Thermal baths are located very close to both caves, so it is easy to see everything in one day.
Another major attraction are the thermal baths near Tocuya. These beautiful turquoise pools have a pleasant cool water that has adistinct but not As was mentioned above, Rodriguez de Mendoza is famous for its coffee. It is distinct from other coffee-producing regions, which are legion in the Amazon, for being all-organic, as the people will proudly tell you. Local custom is to sweeten the whole pot while brewing, so do not bother asking for sugar.
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Another reason Mendoza is well-known – among Peruvians, that is – are its people. Even if it did not have any of the things mentioned above, the people alone would be reason enough to visit this place. Immediately one will notice a high percentage of light-haired and light-eyed people, especially women. But this curiosity apart, they are the friendliest, most helpful people this writer has met in all of Peru (and this writer has traveled quite a bit in the country and has had only the best experiences with the people, so that is telling). They will not only give you directions, but take you to the place you are looking for. They will invite you for a meal with their family, or to stay overnight at their house if you are stranded somewhere late. However, while transport becomes rarer later in the day, there will always be a car that will pick you up.
Getting to Mendoza is very easy. First one needs to come to Chachapoyas, and from there take a combi for 15 soles or a car for 20. It is a two-hour drive on a breathtaking road winding along the Canyon del Sonche. As for a place to stay, there are no hostels here, but right off the Plaza de Armas, across from the municipality, one will find the hotel Suite's Amazon. This is a fantastic place where for only twenty-five soles you can score a separate room (with a bed big enough for two) with its own bathroom, a clean towel (!) and a roll of toilet paper covered in pink bunnies. There is really nothing one can say against Rodriguez de Mendoza: this place is perfect.