Bagua Grande, Perú


Bagua Grande, population of about 43,000, is in the northcentral Andes Mountains of Perú. It is alongside the Utcubamba River in the Utcubamba Valley. To the east of the mountains is the Amazon Basin.

There's not a lot of historical information available, but what I have discovered is this area has been inhabited for a very long time. The Chachapoya people were here for centuries before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century. Because of the Spanish conquering the indigenous peoples, the culture today is a mix of traditional and Spanish influences. Outside of Bagua Grande are numerous archeological sites including the Kuelap City, and ancient fortress city. There are also many eco-tour areas of waterfalls and national parks. And just across the mountains to the east is the Amazon region.

Bagua Grande has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 33° C (91° F), and the nightly average low of 21° C (70° F). The city's elevation averages 450 meters (1476 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 2319 mm (91 inches) of rain.

So, my impressions: Bagua Grande is a nothing-special town. It's the kind of place you might stop in for lunch, or for one night, on your way across the mountains. There's no real supermarket, there's only a few coffee shops and only one or two of them are actually good, the others are part coffee shop/part bakery. The town is basically all small shops and small businesses which have just about anything you might need. It's built on the slopes of the foothills of the mountains so there are some steep climbs if you walk, as I did. There's a stairway up one of the hillsides and I counted the steps on my way up - 200 steps. Not a particularly long stairway, but it gets steeper towards the top. And at the top of the stairs the road continues uphill. There are some interesting places outside the city, though. You'll need to talk to any of the many tour operators about finding them or getting to them. Anyway, Bagua Grande is not worth making a trip to visit, just pass through and visit more interesting places.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Moyobamba, Perú
  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Catamayo, Ecuador
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina

During my travels in Ecuador I visited 32 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 36 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 16 towns. In Uruguay, I visited five towns, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay I have visited 26 cities. That's 123 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: Jaén, Perú.