By Erin Hancock
La Merced is a warm, humid and sunny spot compared to Huancayo in the mountains. It is situated in the central east area in Peru, about 220 kms northeast of Lima between the Andes and the Amazon. You basically drive into summer as you head to the lower altitude. This region known as Chanchamayo boasts great coffee and cacao, as well as waterfalls, an abundance of fruits and lush green scenery.
Have your coffee straight up or take it in liqueur form. Careful – it goes down way too smoothly! Nothing like Peru’s most popular spirit pisco (made from grapes) paired with some of the world’s best coffee.
You can visit a pretty great market featuring most of the local products. If you’re ever heard of the really expensive coffee that is extracted from animal feces and apparently tastes amazing, you can buy it here. A small package runs you the equivalent of $40USD per cup. Enjoy!
If you want to be on a river in the jungle, that’s easy. The scenery is limited as you are in a valley between mountains but it’s a nice way to spend some time at sunset.
There are several different waterfalls to visit. If you want a longer hike, check out Bayoz.
“El velo de la novia” is a great spot to swim and is accessible after a short walk. You can even sneak behind the powerful waterfall to a little cavernous hiding spot.
There is a village demonstrating how the local indigenous people live. Once you arrive, before you know it someone has painted your face and dressed you up. It has to be one of the strangest and most pushy experiences into full-on cultural appropriation perhaps, but take it for what it is. It’s a little village doing their thing to make a living and showcase what matters to them. We were all up dancing. My friend Eliyse (from Estonia) even “got married” apparently in a ceremony. The community allows men to have multiple wives so she became the newest addition to his group. He may have been 50 years her senior, but they made a cute couple. Marius (from Norway) battled a snake. Ok, he just held it.
The coypu is a local animal that looks similar to a beaver. He was friendly and allowed for lots of hugs.
We opted not to swim in the rushing river, but the local children were more than happy to show us their bold swimming skills after jumping off the bridge and hustling to the shore.
And then….the next week our friends in the jungle saw this in the same area…..
If you’re falling in love with Peru, check out other posts like waterfalls in Huancaya. More coming soon – a glacier, Huancayo in the foothills of the Andes and Lima.