FREE shipping on orders of $49 or more! The discount will apply automatically at checkout.

Going To Campo Unannounced

Going To Campo Unannounced


Hello and good day!

We'll be taking a group of visitors out to campo for the first time in four years.

The trip will be in early Junly of this year.

Early July is later in the harvest season when the rain usually lightens up a bit.

It should be easier to drive the dirt country roads that take you back out to cacao farms.

We used to take groups every single year, sometimes more than once a year.

In the future, we hope to set up agro-tours so that we can take customers from the United States who would like to meet our cacao farm partners.

For this trip, we are taking a bunch of our original chocolate customers.

All but one is European chocolate professionals. the one exception is from Australia.,

It will be something of a family reunion.

The reason that a lot of these professionals decided to work with us in the first place was because they were blown away by trips out to campo.

If European pastry chefs and chocolatiers hadn't embraced our chocolate back in the beginning, we wouldn't be here today. They were our primary customers at a time when we were in desperate need of customers.

We've been asked a lot over the years if an adventurous person could simply show up in campo unannounced and talk their way into seeing some cacao farms.

The honest answer is that they probably couldn't.

The picture above is of the little town of Puerto Ciruelo. This is the port town that sits at the front of the district of Huarango.

You'll notice that in the center of the picture there is a smoldering rice husk mountain.

To the right of that is where we had our second cacao processing facility (second of four). It was an old rice mill that we had to evacuate on account of the big mountain behind it catching fire.

The river is the Chinchipe River, which flows right to left from this vantage point. The road on the far side of the river is the Jaen-San Ignacio Road.

It curves with the river in and out of some of the most beautiful farming valleys that you will ever see.

Heading left, which is south, takes you back towards Jaen.

Heading right, north, takes you on to the city of San Ignacio, and then onto Ecuador.

Downtown Puerto Ciruelo is a five-block road located just inside a row of houses that overlook the river.

The houses on the river all have rickety balconies in back, up on 30-foot-tall wooden piles.

The river is low in this picture, and when the river is low, a beach appears on its bank.

You can see the little beach in the upper left. When the beach is available, and the river is low, kids swim in the river. Local women wash clothes.

The public water is only turned on for 6 hours a day. While the water is on, families fill up buckets from their house faucets to use throughout the day.

When the beach appears, it gives the town people access to free water for washing without any time limitations. Taxi and truck drivers pull onto the beach to wash their vehicles as well.

To visit cacao farms in the district of Huarango, you'd first have to get yourself to Puerto Ciruelo. Getting to Puerto Ciruelo means coming down the Jaen-San Ignacio Road.

As the name suggests, this road originates in Jaen.

When the government is stable in Peru, there is a short plane ride available, direct from Lima to Jaen. However, for the last year or so, there has been instability, and the Jaen airport has been closed.

Peru doesn't have federalism the way we do here in the United States.

States and localities in Peru don't have very much authority and their budgets come primarily from the national government.

The Jaen airport runway has a huge crack in it. Airplanes can't take off and land.

Because Jaen isn't a politically important city, and the government has been in disarray, the resources haven't been allocated to fix it.

When the Jaen airport is shut down, you have to fly from Lima to the big northern coastal city of Chiclayo and then you take an eight-hour bus ride to Jaen.

The bus goes up the western face of the Andes and through a mountain pass.

Then you curve down the eastern mountain face, drive through a dead and bone-dry rain shadow until the bus works its way into a river valley, and then you drive alongside the river, surrounded by tall and dry mountains for a long time until you make your way into the jungle.

Jaen is a full-blown agricultural town with no tourism industry whatsoever.

You'd have to hire a taxi to drive you out to Puerto Ciruelo or take the local public transportation, which would be a van with an interior refitted to carry the maximum number of people.

Either way, it's an hour and a half from Jaen to Puerto Ciruelo.

Once in Puerto Ciruelo, you'd be dropped off in downtown and then you'd have to find a cacao farmer who would take you out to their farm.

This would not be easy.

Your best bet would be to go on Sunday when farmers come to town for the Sunday market and livestock auction.

During the week, there wouldn't be cacao farmers for you to talk to.

They'd all be back in the canyon on their farms.

Like most small towns, the residents in Puerto Ciruelo all know each other and are naturally weary of outsiders.

It would be a suspicious thing for somebody to show up out of the blue and ask to be taken out to a cacao farm.

We initially visited because we were invited by the president of the local cacao growers association and even so, people weren't sure what to make of us.

Being foreigners and gringos immediately raised red flags when we visited for the first time.

If you couldn't find a willing cacao farmer to invite you to their farm, you could try to hire a car and drive back into the canyon on your own.

But walking out onto a cacao farm uninvited would be a very risky proposition.

Farm dogs are vicious and aggressive guardians who have no compunction about biting the crap out of intruders. One of the big risks that our buying team faces even to this day is that you can show up on a farm and come across a surprised and unsupervised farm dog.

They usually only listen to their owner and if their owner is on a different part of the farm, you can end up in a tense and dangerous show down.

Also, like anywhere in the world, folks don't take too kindly to uninvited visitors walking onto their property. You might get run off by a farmer with a rifle.

And then, at the end of the day, you'd have to take a taxi or public transportation back to Jaen.

There is no lodging for visitors out in campo.

The likelihood is that our adventurous traveler would leave the district of Huarango disappointed by their inability to see cacao farming and processing. On the other hand, they would have seen unusually stunning natural beauty.

Creating an organized and efficient tourism program out to campo is one of our most important goals over the next few years.

It is something that can provide a great economic benefit to our farm partners.

Thank you so much for time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


Click here for wonderful chocolate made with pure Nacional cacao.

Follow us on Instagram - @fortunatonochocolate

To learn more about our word-of-mouth program, click here.