Chachapoyas is a lovely colonial-style town. The central plaza has lots of tour companies, cafes and shops. I see a few gringos out and about, but mostly it’s locals, maybe because it’s the off-season now. We are back up in the mountains again, and it’s chilly here, especially in the evenings.
Most of the upstairs rooms of buildings have Juliet balconies….lovely.
There’s so much to do around here – Gocta Falls (supposedly the 3rd highest in the world), Pueblo de Los Muertos, hiking and riding galore. We opt for a day trip to the ruins at Kuelap, a hilltop fortress that belonged to the Chachapoyan people. The drive up takes a few hours on skinny gravel roads that cling to the hillside.
We stop in a small village for fresh local trout for lunch which is so good….and on we go up the road another hour or two toward the fortress.
Later, from up above, I can see the thin ribbon of the road we took lacing along the edges of the mountains below. It’s behind me in this pic.
It sits on the point of a mountain above the Utcubamba Valley and provided a defensive position that must have been incredible, and maybe that’s why the city was lived in for nearly 1000 years. There are the remains of some 400 buildings here, most of which are now only circular foundations of stone which were homes. And there is a recreated hot with a thatched roof here for us to get an idea of what the buildings looked like.
Our guide shows gives us a tour of what was once a home. He stands in the former “kitchen” and demonstrates the use of a stone mortar and pestle, and shows us the stone Cuy (Guinea Pig) run that housed the small animals until they were needed for food.
The amount of work that went into building this city must have been overwhelming…and yet there is so much detail here – carved blocks and detailed stone work.
The trees up here are covered in bromeliads and mosses. We see a spatula-tailed hummingbird, which I am told is very rare.
Kuelap was incredible.