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Chiclayo, Chachapoyas, Kuelap – Chiclayo 4 Days / 3 Nights

Chiclayo, Chachapoyas, Kuelap – Chiclayo

Chiclayo, Chachapoyas 4 Days / 3 NightsAdventure

This seven-day fixed departure to the lost kingdom of the Chachapoyas. A program for travelers with a profound interest in archaeology and adventure. We visit the huge mountaintop temple and fortress of Kuelap, the Revash cliff tombs and the Macro towers, the ruined hilltop settlement of La Congona, the Leimebamba museum with its collection of 200 mummies, many traditional Andean towns — and in Cajamarca, the tombs at Ventanillas de Otuzco, the Inca Baths and the Ransom Room of Atahualpa.

The area is still new to tourism, but we have taken every care to provide as comfortable a stay as possible, with air-conditioned vehicles, expert guides and the best possible accommodation.

We mingle trips on foot and/or horseback with light motorized excursions and longer road journeys, visiting astounding locations and rarely seeing more than a handful of other travelers at each place. Cost covers all land travel, meals and accommodation.

Note: our horseback excursions may also be done on foot, but this option is only available to strong, fast hikers, due to long distances and time constraints.

  • Day 1 Chiclayo to Chachapoyas: Across the Andes to the Amazon
  • Day 2 Chachapoyas: Kuelap, the great walled city of Northern Peru
  • Day 3 Chachapoyas: A visit to Makro towers, and a horseback journey to the cliff tombs of Revash
  • Day 4 Chachapoyas to Leimebamba: A scenic mountain horseback journey, and a traditional Andean town

Departures: Daily

Day 1 Chiclayo to Chachapoyas: Across the Andes to the Amazon

We drive northward from Chiclayo across Peru’s coastal plains, following the Pan-American Highway, then turn east onto the Trans-Andean route, ascending gently through regions of dry forest interspersed with irrigated farmland. Our road loops towards the lowest pass of the Peruvian Andes, at 2,135m/7,000 ft, where we cross the continental divide and enter the Upper Amazon basin. Following the valley of the Huancabamba/Chamaya river system we pass broad ribbons of bright green rice terracing, forming a striking contrast with the cactus and dense thorn-scrub vegetation of the mountainsides. Lower downstream we pass the massive dam and intake of the Olmos irrigation project, ultimately destined to divert much of this water through a 23Km/14.2 mile long tunnel to the Pacific slope of the Andes.

Day 2 Chachapoyas: Kuelap, the great walled city of Northern Peru

We spend a full day visiting this huge and mysterious site, beginning with a drive through places whose names — Choctamal, Longuita, and Kuelap itself — evoke a lost language and a vanished ancient people who spoke it, the Chachapoyas. We don’t know what they called themselves, but the Incas who finally conquered these fierce warriors knew them by their Quechua soubriquet, Chachaphuyu — Cloud People — after the cloud-draped region where they lived.

Kuelap’s existence was first reported in 1843. For years it was believed to have been a Chachapoyas fortress, and when we first catch sight of it from the fossil-encrustedn limestone footpath that leads there it is hard to believe it was not. The massive walls soar to a height of 19m/62ft and its few entranceways are narrow and tapering, ideal for defense.

Yet the archaeological evidence now suggests that this was principally a religious andm ceremonial site.

Day 3 Chachapoyas: A visit to Makro towers, and a horseback journey to the cliff tombs of Revash

After breakfast we enjoy an excursion to observe the arqueological complex of Makro, an outpost of the Chachapoyas culture built into cliffs overlooking the Utcubamba River. Its unique location allowed for contact via signal fires with Kuelap, high above in the mountains, and visible through a cleft in the valley hills.

We then follow the Utcubamba valley upstream, spotting herons and perhaps an Andean torrent duck in the river as we slowly ascend the valley. At the village of Santo Tomás we turn off the main highway, crossing the river and ascending a side valley where vivid scarlet poinsettias the size of trees overhang the walls of typical Chachapoyan farms, with verandas surrounded by wooden columns, and topped with tile roofs. Soon we meet our wranglers and the calm, sure-footed horses that will carry us up the trail to Revash.

Throughout this journey we gaze up at huge cliffs that loom ever closer. These limestone formations, laid down in even layers over geological aeons, tend to break away in neat collapses, often leaving extensive overhangs and protected ledges beneath them. In such places the ancient Chachapoya built the tombs where they buried their noble dead.

Day 4 Chachapoyas to Leimebamba: A scenic mountain horseback journey, and a traditional Andean town

We follow the Utcubamba valley to Leymebamba, where we meet our wranglers and horses, then set off on a mountain trail among green fields and through small villages and hamlets. Our wranglers are, like most local people in Chachapoyas, friendly and obliging.

Here and there we find ourselves riding upon remnants of the original stone road built by the ancient Chachapoyas to access the settlement of La Congona. After about two hours of steady climbing we reach the place where the Chachapoya built hundreds of structures along the ridge. Some are just foundations today, but many are standing, their walls rising from stands of trees and shrubs.

Large archaeological sites as undisturbed and deserted as this one are becoming rare today. National authorities understandably like to clear, restore, improve access and prevent further deterioration of ancient ruins. But for adventurous visitors it is still a special treat to come up against ancient walls looming through the brush, as if we were discovering them for the first time. Buildings with bands of rhomboid and chevron designs over thresholds once crossed by Chachapoya chieftains stand silently among the vegetation.

Optional tour to Karajía

Visit to Karajía and the mysterious Sarcophagus. These baked mud caskets are 2m long, with flat, broad faces and decorated with geometric figures. They are strategically located at the top of a limey rock crest.

Included in your trip

  • Private overland transportation
  • Guided tours
  • Entrance fees
  • Meals mention in the itinerary
  • Hotel Accommodation

NOT included

  • Airport taxes
  • Domestic flights
  • Excess baggage
  • Tips
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