Focus on the Ichapekene Festival in San Ignacio de Moxos in the Beni department

19 July 2023


Mark your calendars! Thaki Voyage is looking forward to seeing you at the end of July to celebrate the most important celebration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Festival Ichapekene de San Ignacio de Moxos.

During the Fiesta del Santo Patrono de Moxos, the whole town comes together to pay tribute to the patron saint by dressing up in colour and good humour! Through extravagant folkloric costumes, discover with us the essence of the Amazon Basin region and one of the country’s most unforgettable festivals.

Today, Thaki Voyage is delighted to tell you all about the last days of July as they should be experienced at least once in your life! Come on, let’s go!

Where is Beni?

Have you found Beni? This department is located in the north-east of Bolivia, and is the second largest in the country after Santa Cruz, which we have mentioned many times over the last few months.

The wildlife is wild, and with good reason: the Beni is located in one of the country’s largest, most attractive and most mysterious regions: the Amazon Basin!

At the heart of this lush vegetation, which is home to the Reserva Biosférica del Beni, lies the Moxos Province, which for the record did not interest the conquistadors when they discovered Bolivia. However, the Jesuits saw it as the perfect place to convert the many indigenous communities living in the region.

This ancestral land is therefore rich in culture and tradition, just like the traditional fiesta in the village of San Ignacio de Moxos, which is now the focus of all our attention.

On the road, to San Ignacio de Moxos

Apart from its famous July festival, the peaceful village of San Ignacio de Moxos doesn’t get much publicity, yet it has an atmosphere that’s sure to please!

Situated to the west of the capital of the department of Beni, Trinidad, the Bolivian town of San Ignacio de Moxos has culinary and cultural traditions that are very different from those of the rest of the country.

The dialect spoken is Ignaciano, which finds its source in the village’s name. Originally named San Ignacio de Loyola, the village was founded in 1689 by the Jesuits. Familiarise yourself with this Society of Jesus, as you will see many Jesuit-style churches.

While you’re there, Thaki Voyage invites you to discover the village’s main must-see sites! These include the main square, where you can admire a superb monument to Chirípieru. He wears a feathered crown and holds a machete.

Don’t miss the Casa Belén Museum, where you can learn about the Ignaciana and Moxo cultures, or the Isirere lagoon to the north of the village, where you can escape the crowds during the festival! It’s a great place to go fishing, swimming, bird-watching or just to admire the sublime sunsets!

Experience the authenticity of Bolivia in July!

Although the village is quiet 362 days of the year, every year on the same occasion it hosts the famous Fiesta del Santo Patrono de Moxos festival.

July 30 and 31 are synonymous with festivities and dancing for the villagers, so take part in the festivities and start the hostilities on July 30 at 2pm, celebrating the patron saint of Moxos.

However, note that the festivities kick off on 22 July when the icon is taken out into the streets. The icon remains outside the church until 25 July, the day of the Fiesta de Santiago.

During these days of solemn processions, the families of the village place an image of San Ignacio in the church to pay homage to him.

The fiesta really gets underway on 30 July, when the procession leaves the church to visit each family that has placed an icon in honour of San Ignacio in the church. The image is then returned to them. In return, the families offer food and drink to the various members of the procession. Among them are the macheteros, young men dressed in white and wearing remarkable headdresses made from macaw feathers. Then there are the accus, the village elders wearing wooden masks and feathered headdresses. Don’t forget to enjoy the musicians playing traditional moxo music: drums, bamboo panpipes and recorders are all on show!

The procession lasts until the participants return to the church for mass. It is the finale of this same mass that heralds the start of the festive events, and therefore the fireworks!

A highly colourful programme

Your first evening will be a memorable one, and it’s your turn to take part in this special moment by sampling the region’s delicious fresh fish. You will also have the chance to admire the beautiful handicrafts that are made by the locals before being displayed in the village.

On the second day, mass is again celebrated and the statue of San Ignacio is brought back to the church. A second statue, much larger than the first, was brought out for the second procession. Many political and religious figures are present.

On the second and third days, you can also watch bullfights and wild dances, before setting off again on the thaki of Bolivia.

Take part in the fervour of a village at an event that is nothing short of spectacular! This festival is one of the most interesting in the Amazon Basin, so Thaki Voyage strongly encourages you to experience it when you come to Bolivia this summer!

Don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as possible to plan your stay with us! We look forward to welcoming you.

Mathilde Leroux