Travelers seldom make it to Tarma, but they should. One of the region’s most welcoming cities with a balmy climate by altiplano (highlands) standards, this is a great stopover – surrounded on all sides by scrubby, brown dirt mountains secreting some intriguing day trips, but poised on the cusp of the ceja de la selva (eyebrow of the jungle) with a road linking the central Andes to the Amazon Basin and its associated attractions. Limeños (inhabitants of Lima) come here to experience the nearest accessible tract of jungle to their desert capital and the city is now cottoning on to tourism with facilities ever-improving. Tarma can also be used as a base for exploring la selva central (Central Amazon).
The area has a long history too. Hidden in the mountains around town are Inca and pre-Inca ruins that have yet to be fully excavated. Tarma was one of the first places to be founded by the Spanish after the conquest (1538 is the generally accepted date). Nothing remains of the early colonial era, but there are many attractive 19th- and early-20th-century houses with white walls and red-tiled roofs.