For most of the year San Ignacio is a sleepy backwater, except in late July, when the Fiesta Patronal or Ichapekenepiesta rouses the town from its tropical torpor in celebration of its titular patron saint. Considered the greatest folkloric festival in the Bolivian Amazon, it reaches its zenith on the 31st in a riot of noise, colour, dancing and wonderful music, performed on flute, drums, violin and metre-long palm-leaf bajones – a kind of giant tropical equivalent to the highland quena (a type of traditional flute). The most iconic dance, the Machetero, is both a salutation to the sun and a thinly veiled portrayal of the struggles against Spanish rule, hypnotically performed by indigenous Moxeños dressed in brilliant feather headdresses and long cotton robes. The austere-looking achus, by contrast, represent the spirits of the ancestors, their dark suits topped off with carved wooden masks and raw-leather hats. Needless to say it’s all accompanied by copious quantities of alcohol and the familiar whiff of cordite; just don’t expect much sleep.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Bolivia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

South America has become a favoured destination for the intrepid backpacker, and while it’s impressive in the astounding diversity of its nations, there are a…

02 Mar 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
8 must-visit places in South America you've probably never heard of

8 must-visit places in South America you've probably never heard of

Access to even some of the more remote parts of South America has improved in the past few decades, establishing a now well-etched tourist trail. But if you wan…

15 Feb 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys

Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys

As T.S. Eliot once said, “The journey, not the arrival, matters,” and nowhere is this truer than travelling in Bolivia. Here, we've picked five of the most…

04 Nov 2015 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month