One of the great parts about living in any country for a long period of time is the opportunity to explore! Peru offers a plethora of cultural and tourist activities, one of my new favorites being the Festival Selvámanos.
“Selvámanos is an alternative music and art festival in the jungle, which has gathered more than 35,000 people over its last six editions. Moreover, a week of free cultural activities is organized during the Semana Cultural. During the five days preceding the concerts, different musical shows, picture and photo exhibitions, audiovisual activities, cinema and theater take place throughout the town, free of charge.” (From Selvámanos)
I had never been to a music festival, but when I heard Peruvian jungle and live Latin rock/indie/pop/rap/electronic music it was a no brainer. Selvámanos takes place in Oxapampa which is a really old German-Peruvian town in the middle of the selva alta. Think green Sierra with warmer temperatures and hints of selva waterfalls and foliage. It’s only a 10 hour night bus from Lima, so families flock to the festival for a weekend escape from the busy reality of city life.
The best thing about the festival is that Peace Corps Environment Volunteers in the Junin region participate by teaching the local community about the environment throughout the week leading up to and the entire weekend of the festival! They are not alone, environmental and artisan institutions come from all over Peru to share ideas and innovative projects.
The fabulous Peace Corps Volunteers who organize the activities set up a “What Do You Know About the Environment” game show for kids, where they could spin the wheel and then be asked a question based on the color it landed on. The game was complete with candy prizes, so it was obviously a huge hit with all the kids!
They also had a table set up where you could learn about recycling and make DIY recycled bottle cap earnings and necklaces. I still wear my pair on the regular! The activities were part of the festival’s Eco-Dome accompanied by a few booths on composting, organic gardening, and recycling from other Peruvian institutions.
The local community participated with presentations of typical German and Peruvian dances, horse games, and tribal ceremonies to celebrate Mother Earth. The respect that the local people have for their land and the connection they feel with Mother Earth is amazing and an example to the rest of us on how much the little things we do can have a great impact on our planet.
Around 4:30pm the music started and between the two stages there was always a ground playing until around 3am! The line up included everything from a Peruvian rock band who sang in Quechua, to the iconic Latin American “Bob Marley-like” singer everyone grew up with. There was rap, Cumbia, pop, rock and electronic! Artists came from all over South America and my favorite was a woman from Argentina who was accompanied by a clarinetist.
The festival has a camping zone next to the concert stages, and then the town of Oxapampa is full of affordable hostals. The town is beautifully organized and clean, with delicious food. All in all the weekend cost less than $100! It usually takes place at the end of June or early July and Movil Tours bus company is the recommended transportation. Next year I will definitely be going for a few extra days to explore the surrounding waterfalls and treks.
If it’s not on your list, it should be! I have not met a single person who didn’t have a great time. I mean who doesn’t need time to connect with nature, listen to good music, and relax with friends?!
(Photo credit to the lovely RPCV Alejandra Garcia!)