For travelers coming over the Andes from Peru’s northern coast or Chachapoyas, Moyobamba is the first city with an unmistakable jungle feel. The air is warm and humid, cooled by rains that fall heaviest between January and March.
Travelers also encounter of exotic new fruits and an explosion of animals and plants. In the cloud forest surrounding Moyobamba there are more than 2,500 recorded types of orchids. The long riverboats common to the lower Amazon also navigate the lazy meanderings of the Río Mayo, fringed by alternating patches of fields and high jungle.
It is one of the few jungle areas occupied by the Inca. Túpac Yupanqui conquered the local tribes of the Motilones and Muyupampas in the mid-15th century.
The city of Moyobamba was founded by Spanish captain Juan Pérez de Guevara in 1540. In Quechua, Moyobamba means “circular plain,” which makes sense because the city is situated on a flat area perched above the Río Mayo.
Various streets dead-end into spectacular views of the muddy, snaking river, which offers a good range of white-water rafting and kayaking. There are also waterfalls and caves in the area, with relatively pristine patches of cloud forest that harbor orchids and endangered or extremely rare mammal species such as the yellow-tailed monkey.
Discos in Moyobamba come and go quickly, but a reliable place to go and play is Punta de Tahuishco, where there are a handful of discos open on the weekends.
The town erupts into a week of parties, local dances, beauty pageants, and processions that spans both the town’s birthday (July 25) and Peru’s independence celebration (July 28). Orchid lovers descend on Moyobamba in the first week of November for the annual Orchid Festival.
The nearest airport is at Tarapoto , 105 kilometers or 2.5 hours away by bus. All the buses between Chiclayo  and Tarapoto pass through Moyobamba. Movil Tours (Grau 547, tel. 042/56-3720) has the best bus service from Moyobamba to Chiclayo (US$23).
Transportes Cajamarca (Serafín Filomeno 298, tel. 042/56-1496) has modern, reliable station wagons on their routes Tarapoto–Moyobamba (US$7) and Moyobamba–Nueva Cajamarca (US$2). From Nueva Cajamarca you can head on to Pedro Ruiz via Transportes Etcaosa for US$6.