How many days do you need for this route?
Depends on how many days you have. You can take the short version (Chachapoyas, Kuelap, Gocta) for a 5 to 6 day trip getting in and out of Chacha from Chiclayo. Alternatively, you might be looking for the real Indiana Jones experience in the Grand Vilaya Valley and the Condors Lagoon for a 2-week trip. Kuelap and Gocta are a must either if you decide to take the short or long version trip.
Local attractions around Chachapoyas
KUELAP (1-day trip from Chacha): See information above
· Gocta Waterfall (1-day trip from Chacha): Considered the third largest waterfall in the world, has been recently discovered by local guides (2002). It is a long hike, with breathtaking waterfall scenery.
· Gran Vilaya Valley (1 to 3-day trip from Chacha): This very fertile valley west of Chachapoyas city has supported huge populations in the Chachapoyas and the Incas times. Located on the cloudy forest of Per u, estimations consider that there are more than 4,000 ruins a long the area. You can take guided tours from Chachapoyas city, or considering getting lost for the real Indiana Jones backpacker experience. Once you get into it you can only continue your trip either by walk or by horse given most roads have heavy vegetation
· Laguna de los Condores (3-day trip from Leimebamba): A one day hike/one day stay/ one day return trip from Leimebamba; the lagoon is famous for the ancient Andean burials towers found on 1997, Chulpas, which you still check out in the Museum in near the Lagoon.
· Revash (1-day trip from Chacha or Leimebamba): In Revash you will find beautiful painted burial buildings tucked into the cliff. Revash is located in a 3 ½ hour steep hike from the Leimebamba – Chachapoyas highway (from the turnoff from Santo Domingo).
· Karajia (1 day trip from Chacha): This amazing funerary site has 3 meter anthropomorphic wooden coffins located under a cliff (with mummies inside each coffin). To get there you need to confront the 45-minute from Cruz Pata (After the other walks, this is a walk in the park). You can reach Cruz Pata from Chachapoyas by minibuses. First take the 50-minute minibus from Chacha to Luya, and from there take another 50-minute minibus to Cruz Pata)· Yalape (1 day trip from Chacha): Located in middle of the road between Chacha and Levanto, Yalape was first a semi-fortified town although later, after the Incas conquest over the Chachapoyas culture, it become a luxurious residential district.
· Levanto or Jalca Grande(1 day trip from Chacha each): Two different towns located near Chacha, where you can appreciate local villages build in stone that still preserve its ancient roots.
Access to the fortressAs of today, it only receives a growing crowd of 18,000 people a year. The access is not easy, but it’s perfect for an adventurous backpackers looking for a real Indiana Jones experience. Experts consider that “visiting Kuelap is like visiting Machu Picchu without the crowds”. Machu Picchu, in comparison, receives 1 millions visitors a year. Kuelap is year round accessible, although the wet season is from November to April and the dry season is from June to October. There are two alternative routes to reach Kuelap. Both are complementary and you can arrive to Kuelap through one and then leave the fortress in the other direction. There are plenty of complementary attractions throughout these routes, so check our Northern Highland blog entry for more details:
This is the usual route for travelers to Chachapoyas (or Chacha as called by the locals). You can arrive in Chiclayo via plain or bus from Lima (10 hour bus). From Chiclayo you can take another bus to Chachapoyas (12 hours). From Chacha is easy to take private buses to Kuelap (4-hour). The bus will leave you in 20-minute away from the Fortress. More adventurous backpackers can take the same bus, but stop in Tingo to challenge the 9.8 km trail hike which will take 3 to 5 hours depending on the season and/or your hiking abilities and endurance.
· Trujillo-Cajamarca-Celendin-Leimebamba-ChachapoyasYou can arrive in Trujillo via plain or bus from Lima (8 hour bus) or directly to Cajamarca via plain or bus from Lima (13 hours bus). From there you can take local buses to Chachapoyas. This rough but amazing route might be temporary closed during the wet season. This is the ancient route to Chachapoyas, and the effort will be worth it if you enjoy the local attractions in its way (only take this route of you have a couple extra days). Celendin is a tranquil and ancient town in your way to Kuelap where you can stay for the night. After Celendin you can stop in Leimebamba and consider the 3-day hike to he Laguna de los Condors (Condor’s Lagoon). Once back in Leimebamba, you can continue your trip to Kuelap. In your way, you can stop in Revash, which is located in a 3 ½ hour steep hike from the Highway (from the turnoff from Santo Domingo). You can decide not to stop in Revash and continue directly to Kuelap
Who were the Chachapoyas?
The Chachapoyas – people of the clouds, in local language – were a culture of inexhaustible warriors and powerful shamans that occupied the Northern Highlands in the Peruvian ceja de selva (“the eyebrow of Amazon Jungle” in Spanish). They were only conquered by the Incas a little before the Spaniards arrival in the continent.Upon the Spaniard arrival, it is said that they joined forces with them in order to help in the defeat of the Incas. Otherwise, it is difficult to think that a few Spaniard on top of horses was enough of an army to conquer the Incas and capture Inca Atahualpa in Cajamarca).