Namora is a serene community situated in the northern highlands of Cajamarca, Peru. This town is known alternatively as “The Cradle of Carnival,” the land of the capulí (glacé/morello cherry), and the land of the artisan guitar. Namora features a wide variety of pre-Incan archeological sites, such as Coyor, as well as natural sites like […]
Namora is a serene community situated in the northern highlands of Cajamarca, Peru. This town is known alternatively as “The Cradle of Carnival,” the land of the capulí (glacé/morello cherry), and the land of the artisan guitar. Namora features a wide variety of pre-Incan archeological sites, such as Coyor, as well as natural sites like the Saint Nicholas Lagoon – the biggest lagoon in the state of Cajamarca and the northern region. Namora was formed from an hacienda whose property was given back to the people in pieces, forming the district.
This famous February festival has its own special manifestation in Namora. Women from all over the region come to Namora for a traditional cooking competition; they roam the town, singing traditional folk tunes and carrying their own entries straight to your door, along with a glass of chicha fuerte (“strong juice” – aka home-fermented liquor). Kind of like Christmas caroling except they bring you food and try and get you drunk. Enjoy the parade during the day and then dances and free food at night. Also, be sure to bring at least a water gun because every day is an all out water war. If you want to be a serious competitor, you should probably grab a few buckets as well and get ready to dump them on heads. And you want the full experience, be prepared to get into a couple of paint fights as well. Come ready to get wet and dirty and this is bound to be at least unforgettable, if not one of the highlights of your travel life.
Now, if February isn’t a good time to visit (it being the rainy season),
you can visit in the summer (June – end of August) to take tours. We recommend the Laguna San Nicolás (Saint Nicholas Lagoon). Ideally, you should plan to arrive in the afternoon or night and unwind at the visitor lodge. It is strategically situated next to the lagoon, with full panoramic views. Build a campfire at night and enjoy the serenity with your friends and fellow travelers. In the morning, you and your friends should ask the staff about renting a canoe to go fishing. You can also pay a local fisherman to take you around in their canoes, or in one of their traditional reed boats. You’ll be fishing for the local silverside or sand smelt fish (pejerrey), which is excellent as ceviche or fried. At the lodge, ask for Andrés Villar Briones, the president of the local fishing association.
Lodge price: S/. 30 ($12) per couple, S/. 20 ($8) per individual
Canoe rental price: $1 per person, per hour.
Nature-lovers can take advantage of the morning and go photo-hunting for the dozens and dozens of birds, ducks, reptiles, amphibians, and other wildlife found in this natural zoo known as Laguna San Nicolás. Nearby is also Mount Coyor – archaeological ruins from the pre-Inca age. Arrange a tour with Alejandro Bernardo Cusma Pajares (under Community Contacts below). To get to the Lagoon from the main square of Namora, find a small “mototaxi” that will take you to the Lagoon for about S/.12 ($5) per person. Or, if you have a larger group, take a minivan from the colectivo service that will charge about S/.75 ($30) for a larger group of 12 people or so.
The Coyor Fort is one of the principal archaeological remains of the Caxamarca culture, is located east of the Laguna San Nicolás, at 2,970 meters (9,744 ft.) above sea level. There is a presence of terraces that formed part of the Temple of the Sun, circular constructions that they used as warehouses for foods, and elevated rock walls that served as protection. The Caxamarcas were characterized by being an organized and warrior town, they had developed textile art and their ceramics were of fine quality; it’s possible that they had had influence from the from the Wari in the intermediate phase (450 AD – 900 AD).
If you plan to stay another day, you can head to the center of the district and relax in the recreation center, where there are pools and athletic courts for soccer and volleyball. Test your skills against the locals, but note that they are very competitive! This can be arranged by visiting the municipal building (municipio) and asking for Rosa Lorena Galladro in the District Municipality of Namora, or asking the main desk in the municipality for a tour.
Namora’s artisans are known for three things: hand-made clothing, hand-made and tuned guitars, and traditional sombreros. The women generally make sweaters, very warm
natural sheep wool scarfs, classic Peruvian ponchos, stuffed animals, and much more. The men mold wood into beautiful, high-class guitars that produce a very pleasant, clear, serene musical sound. Every little detail and design on the guitar can be designed and then made by hand by the artisans starting at just $50. For some of the highest quality guitars and detailing, ask for Julio Soriano Zelada. Phone: 976-415-934 Other artisans in the community will make you high-quality sombreros that will last you a lifetime and keep you refreshed, cool, and protected from the strong sun in these high altitudes (about 2800 meters). But lifetime quality comes with a high price – these will cost you around $100 or more, depending on what local material you would like in your sombrero.
There are many host families and rooms for rent in the four main streets of the center of the district that will only cost about $2 per day. Sorry, no five star hotels here, but living with a host family is one of the best ways to learn more about a community and a culture.
There are many cheap restaurantes campestres in the main plaza and main connecting streets, just browse and enjoy some local cuisine.
Public Transport From Cajamarca City there are two options: 1) Take a “colectivo,” which is Spanish for “collective.” This is a sort of taxi that, at their station in the city, you pay a fixed fee of 4 soles (~$1.50), but have to wait until they fill up their whole vehicle with 5 passengers (or more if the vehicle is bigger). Once the vehicle is filled, then the car heads to Namora and 40 minutes later arrives in the main square in the center of the district–in Spanish called “Plaza de Armas.” 2) Take a “combi”, which is a public transport bus that charges 3 soles (~$1.20), and seats a lot more people, but you will have to wait longer until it fills up completely (about 25 passengers). The district of Namora is only 40 minutes away from the city.
Where to find the station in Cajamarca and how to get there: In the city, Head down to the end of the Plazuela Bolognesi and enter the street between the Inka Farma pharmacy and the lady that sells avocados (if you’re facing the front of the statue in the Plazuela, it’s the the street to the back left). Look for the “paradero” (station) on the left with the sign that says “Colectivos Freddy Vásquez Namora” or “Sol y Mar Namora.” If you see the combi parked in front of the station that says “Asociación de Transportistas Namora” almost full, take that. Those are the reputable transportation companies. They operate around between 8 am and 6 pm, but those hours may vary. Or from the airport in Cajamarca City, take a taxi and tell them to leave you in the “paradero Namora”; they will probably charge you S/. 15 ($6). Driving Namora is located about 17 mi (45 minutes) driving east on the highway Inca Trail from the capital city of Cajamarca.
(Segundo) Primitivo Ordóñez Briones: lodging coordinator and private canoe operator Phone: 976128290. Ask for “Primitivo”
Andrés Villar Briones: President, Association of Fisherman Laguna San Nicolás. Tickets, Artisan boat rental and fishing coordinator. Ask for him at the lodge.
Johel Villar Cerquil Has rooms available in his house, which is right on the Laguna. Phone: 945-317-787
Alejandro Bernardo Cusma Pajares: Coordinator of Mount Coyor Trip and Principal of Elementary School Laguna San Nicolás. Doesn’t have phone number. Reach instead at Tel #: 976331147 (# belongs to teacher Carol Tejada). Ask for “Profesor Alejandro” about “Paseo hacía Ruinas Cerro Coyor“. Web Namora’s website: http://www.muninamora.gob.pe/