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Posuzo: A Germanic Colony in the Andes by Armando FloresA Germanic Colony in the Andes

The name Pozuzo derives from the Amuesha and pozuza, meaning "Salt water rivers" The Germano–Austrian colony of Pozuzo (Pasco Department) has developed for more than a hundred years on the margin of historical events in Peru.

Lush green countryside.

One of the numerous waterfalls on the road to Pozuso.  Their fresh cool waters are irresistable.

Local girls in colorful Tirolese dress.

A smiling Pozuzan women in typical tirolese dress.

Typical Pozuzan architecture, the German influence is evident in the high wooden roofs, nowadays covered in zinc.

Two young girsl practising folk songs.

A small back water in the bend of the river.

These impressive trees can be found in the surrounding countryside of the fown.

The first suspension bridge Emperor Guillermo II, has been recently restored and was used by the firest colonists to cross the river Huancabamba.

The district council of Pozuzo welcomes experts in canoeing, hang gliding, and parapente to prmote new adventure routes.

© Mylene D'Auriol

The overland trip to Pozuzo, if done by the Carretera Central from Lima to La Oroya, has the unique attraction of passing through diverse climatic regions of Peru. The aridity of the coast gradually gives way to more verdant vegetation until you eventually reach the heights of the Andean Cordillera at an altitude of 4,800m (15,750 ft) at the Ticlio Pass.

Depending on the season, great snowy expanses can be seen covering nearby summits. Once La Oroya is reached follow the turnoff towards Tarma. Further along the way lies San Ramón and La Merced. The last section of road to Oxapampa is unpaved and can be washed out during rainy season.

The road to Pozuzo winds along steep cliffs and deep canyons over the Huancabamba River. It is surrounded by vibrant ferns and leafy trees, the banks are dotted with delicate orchids, and frothing cascades beckon the weary traveller to bathe in their fresh waters. Yanachaga–Chemillén National Park also lies on this route. Covering an area of 122,000 hectares, it extends into the Pozuzo, Villa Rica, and Palcazú districts (this last in the Oxapampa Province) and is a park with one of the largest varieties of flora and fauna in the world


In 1849, president Ramón Castilla, passed an immigration law and the first influx of Germans arrived under its protection, along with the help of businessman Antolín Rodulfo. Unfortunately the immigrants were never able to establish themselves. Having had to travel on foot to Tarapoto, no family arrived untouched by tragedy. Many died when crossing the high mountains, descending through the cliffs of the Montane forests, and from trecherous weather conditions. Because of this experience, Peru gained a poor reputation, with outright opposition to immigration in Germany.

It was German traveller Baron Cosme Damián Schütz von Holzhausen, who, after visiting German colonies in Texas, had the idea of creating other colonies in South America.

After a trip to the Alto Marańon area, he began to encourage immigration towards the Montane forests of Peru. On this trip in 1852 he established a friendship, and a small community with Manuel Ijurria, a miner from Cerro de Pasco.

Finally, the Peruvian government accepted a Schütz–Ijurria proposal allowing the introduction of some 13,000 German colonists into the Amazonas region. Nevertheless, President Echenique scrapped the Immigration Law in 1953 and this contract was nullified. During the second term of Castilla, another Schütz–Ijurria contract was formed with the idea of bringing 10,000 Austrian and German immigrants. This document stipulated that the settlers would descend the Andean Cordillera to establish themselves at the meeting point of the Delfín and Huancabamba rivers. Instead of 500 settlers, in reality only 300 left the port of Amberes towards the Andes. Their march lasted two years and was extremely arduous. They arrived at Pozuzo on July 25, 1859.

In total Some 150 colonists managed to establish themselves, and thus remained totally isolated from their home land and the rest of Peru. Nothing was heard of them for more than 120 years. During this time, the colony was totally self–sufficient, raising livestock, weaving, even making their own shoes. The population grew as its members married among each other and with natives of the region.

In 1970 the first road to reach Pozuzo was built, an unreliable link due to washouts and landslides. It nonetheless allowed modernising advances and commerce to reach the colony. This access road also permitted many young members to leave town in search of higher education or simply to live in the capital.

Today Pozuzo is a town marked by its roots. Typical tyrolese dress is worn on festival days, both German and Spanish are spoken and

families still conserve names such as Schmidt, Heidinger, Müller, and Köhel. You can also see the natural and necessary growth of mestizaje in the town, the fruit the harmonious coexistence between colonist and native. This can be seen in family names native to the region combined with Tyrolese first and last names, giving way to a totally new generation of Peruvians.

These latest generations have cultivated a new territory in the last thirty years a plan called ‘the conquest of the Codo de Pozuzo’. The development of the area locally known as the ‘elbow of Pozuzo’ was realised after many expeditions, where different crops were experimented with. Today the Municipality of Codo del Pozuzo stands with well–earned pride.

Pozuzo City

The settlers’ homes are a clear display of German architecture as adapted to the conditions and materials of the area. Buildings are characterised by their high peaked roofs (originally covered with wooden tiles and now with sheets of zinc) and exterior passages connecting rooms. In general, stables occupied the first floor, leaving the second, third, and even a fourth floor as living quarters. Nearby stood a mill for grinding sugar cane; an excellent example is the four–story home of Hernan Egg at Palmira.

In the centre of town you can visit the churches of San José de Pozuzo and Sagrado Corazón de Jesus, along with other manifestations of typical architecture of the region. The Francisco Schafferer Museum is also found here, displaying remains of ceramics dating from between 6,000 to 1,800 B.C., a period in which Pozuzo was inhabited by native tribes. There is also a display of numerous weapons, utensils, and other memorabilia that belonged to the first settlers. Another place to visit is the first hanging bridge (known as Emperor Wilhelm II, and which has been recently restored) that was used by the colonists to cross the Huancabamba river.

As for economic activity, Pozuzo is a colony dedicated primarily to the breeding of livestock (and to a lesser degree, dairy production), as well as growing coffee, rice, and fruit. On a tour of the outskirts of town one passes several handsome farms, their green fields highlighting the jungle which surrounds them, as well as beautiful wooden homes. These characteristics create a very particular ambience, difficult to find in other parts of Peru.

Evidently, Pozuzo is a great attraction for its character, the beauty of its countryside and its festivals. The most important festival is celebrated every July 25th—the day of the town’s foundation—and lasts until the 30th. This colourful commemoration boasts an array of with typical costumes and customs. Austrian and German music is played and sang, torneos de cinta or ‘ribbon tournaments’ are held, where dextrous riders, in an act of gallantry, capture rings and coloured ribbons to offer them to the local young ladies. Also worth seeing is the float parade and cockfights (for the strong stomached). Afterwards, typical dishes are served, with recipes original to Pozuzo, Austria, and Germany, among which stand out semola soup (Griesnockerlsuppe), beef and vegetable stew (Fleischtrudel mit gemuse), sausages and smoked hams.

The area surrounding Pozuzo, apart from being excellent for camping, is also apt for adventure sports such as rafting, parapente, hang gliding, trekking, and motorcycle tours; these activities, along with the hospitality of its inhabitants, will make your visit an experience difficult to forget.

By Armando Flores
Volume /Issue 14, Page 74
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