When-Where-Why?

We chose to visit this region for a good week, in May 2019, because we wanted to discover the Chachapoyas culture.

The Chachapoyas were a pre-Inca culture. They were located east of the Urubamba River, in the Andean jungle of northern Peru. The Chachapoyas consisted of various ethnic groups, descendants of immigrants from the Andean mountains and who assimilated the characteristics of the Amazon. His society was theocratic and his territory was divided into small mansions. Its economy was based on agriculture, which was divided between grazing, hunting and subsistence harvesting. They also created textiles and have ceramics.

Transports

* Night Bus, Movilbus 14h30 drive, around 23.50 euros

There are not a lot. Our was the only one of the day with departure at 16h and activated the next day around 6.30am.

* 2 hours from the Plaza de Armas to the village of Huancas.

* 20 minutes in combi van.

* Chachapoyas – Tingo: From the bus terminal, about 1 hour, 9 soles.

* Tingo – Tingo Nuevo (office for cable car tickets): 1h30 walk (along the road) otherwise you can take a mototaxi (less than 10 soles).

Then they will take you by bus to the cable car (10min journey).

* Chachapoyas – Luya: From the bus terminal, about 45 minutes, 5 soles.

* Luya – Cruzpata: From the village, about 45 minutes, 5-6 soles (negotiable).

* From the bus terminal, Diplomaticos company, 45min, 5 soles.

The bus will drop you off at San Pablo.

* From San Pablo take a mototaxi, 30-40min, 4-6 soles (negotiable).

* From the village, hike from 7am to Cocachimba.

* Chachapoyas – San Bartolo: From the bus terminal, about 2 hours, less than 10 soles. Then walk 30-40min.

* San Bartolo – Leymebamba (museum): 1 hour by car then 15min to the museum.

* From the bus terminal, 1h10, 5 soles.

The bus will drop you off at Pedro Ruiz.

* From Pedro Ruiz take a mototaxi to Cuispes, 30min, 15 soles for the entire mototaxi (negotiable).

* Since Cuispes, hike from 2h-2h30 one way.

* Bus night, Movil Tour bus, 16h, 30 euros

Housing

Estancia Chillo is a small paradise in the Peruvian Amazonas. It’s lost in a beautiful green valley and run by a nice family. They have many accommodations. The rooms are simply but nicely decorated. There is breakfast and dinner included in the price of the room.

How to get there: Take a combina from the Chachapoyas bus terminal (about 1, 9 soles). Look closely at the road and ask the driver to drop you in front of you.

Rates: Negotiable.

Activities: There is possibility to go to Kuelap from Estancia while walking. There are other sites to see like the ruins of Macro.

Tips & Warnings: Check that the estancia still exists because in 2019 they intended to sell.

Friendly hostel in the center of Chachapoyas five minutes from the central square. It’s really cheap.

The private rooms are spacious and clean.

They provide bath towels and soap.

We can cook.

Address: Triunfo 1060, Chachapoyas 00001

Activities

What: The Kuelap site was discovered in 1843 and has since been considered the most important and representative site of the Chachapoyas culture (still a pre-Inca culture!). This immured site was, until the 16th century (it was also used by the Incas) a very important religious center. The various investigations that took place on the site revealed that Kuelap was inhabited by the religious and political elite of the different peoples who lived there. Offerings and sacrifices were made in the enclosure of the monument. The Chachapoyas civilization will last from 500-1470 AD The site is located in an almost inaccessible area (over 2930 m altitude), in a sacred territory (sacred valley with mountains, rivers, forests, lagoons … ), the Incas who conquered Kuelap wished to preserve it and to respect it. There are still some unresolved mysteries around this wonderful site.

How:

* With a tour: there are many agencies that offer day trips. They cost around 85 soles and include: a guide, transportation, cable car, entrance, lunch.

* Solo: you have to go to Nuevo Tingo. From Chachapoyas, there are combis that go to Tingo (Viejo) and from there you can either walk (1h30) to the ticket office in Tingo Nuevo, or take a mototaxi (10min). Alternatively, you can go directly to Kuelap from Tingo by taking the trail (the start of the trail starts right after the police station). It is much more sporty against: count about 4 hours to arrive on the site (take water!).

Routes:

* Chachapoyas – Tingo: From the bus terminal, about 1 hour, 9 soles.

* Tingo – Tingo Nuevo (office for cable car tickets): 1h30 walk (along the road) otherwise you can take a mototaxi (less than 10 soles).

Then we will take you by bus to the cable car (10min journey).

Difficulty: Easy.

Duration: 2h on the site.

Rates: 20,40 soles the round trip cable car; 30 soles the entrance of the site.

Tips: Remember to take water, a sweater or a jacket because it can be cool at altitude and it rains from time to time. Sunscreen would not be too much either.

What: The sarcophagi of Karajía were made by the Chachapoyas culture (900-1470 AD). For them, the worship of the dead was of great importance, especially for those of higher hierarchy. Its leaders should enjoy an eternal rest, without any disturbance. This is why its inhabitants created Sarcófagos de Karajía. They are over 500 years old and are located in Luya District, Chachapoyas City, Department of Amazonas. The sarcophagi of Karajía are tombs in the shape of a human figure and are a funerary tradition. They are located in rocks at a height of 400 meters, on a vertical rock wall and measure more than 2 and a half meters high. These burials were located in hard-to-reach places, such as caves, cliffs and steep slopes. The goal was that sarcophagi should never be visited and that mummified bodies could rest in peace for all eternity. These remarkable burials were discovered in 1985 by Federico Kauffmann Doig, archaeologist of Peruvian origin, in the ravine of Karajía. The seven open sarcophagi were designed to bury individual mummified bodies in the fetal position wrapped in cotton sleeves and facing forward. It is important to mention that there was an eighth sarcophagus, however, it was destroyed by nature, falling off the cliff because of the earthquake that affected the area in 1928. The Chachapoyas traditionally protected their the passing of time, which is why sarcophagi are located in steep places and at the edge of precipices. Due to its location in the ravine of Karajía, there is no risk of vegetation growth or moisture formation around them. The “Purunmachos”, because of their anthropomorphic form, mainly consist of clay, ichu, straw and connected by a clay mortar. They were also decorated with layers of paint for the face and body in white smoke and ocher red.

How:

* With a tour: there are many agencies that offer day trips. They cost about 85 soles and include: a guide, transportation, entry, lunch.

* Solo: you have to go to Luya from Chachapoyas bus terminal (vans leave only when they are full so go early to the terminal). Once in Luya, negotiate a transport for Cruzpata. In Cruzpata, follow the path for twenty minutes, it’s very easy (to go it goes down but the return will be a little longer because it will only be the climb). Once the visit is over, you will have to wait for the next van and redo the whole circuit in the opposite direction.

Routes:

* Chachapoyas – Luya: From the bus terminal, about 45min, 5 soles.

* Luya – Cruzpata: From the village, about 45 minutes, 5-6 soles (negotiable).

Price: 5 soles.

Difficulty: Easy.

Duration: 1 hour of round trip maximum.

Tips: Go on a Thursday as there is a feria in Luya.

What: The falls of Gocta have a height of 771m and are among the highest in the world (you will be told that these are the third highest but it is not quite right). The falls have been known by the Peruvians of the region for a long time, but it is the visit of the German Stefan Ziemendorff in the region, in search of sarcophagi, which made them “famous” because he dared to venture there while the Peruvians were afraid of it. The Peruvians believed in the legend of the siren: one of the inhabitants had fallen in love with the siren of Gocta. This one offered him jewels which he kept in his pockets. One evening on his way home he forgot to empty his pockets and his wife noticed the beautiful jewels. She made nothing, then followed him to the waterfall and realized that her husband was much more in love with the mermaid than with her. It provoked in her an extreme rage and anger whose noise made the siren wince and fall into the waterfall, dragging her husband to the bottom of the water with her. We did not see the siren, only tourists and no one fell into the water;)

How:

* With a tour: there are many agencies that offer day trips. Honestly it’s useless to go with a tour as the guide will not help you at all.

* Solo: It all depends on what you want to do as a hike. There are three options:

From San Pablo to Cocachimba (then mototaxi to San Pablo): the full hike lasts an average of 7 hours. If you are fit, do it! The ride is super nice, there are many stairs. The forest is very beautiful.
From San Pablo and back to San Pablo: you will only see the upper part and the watchtower. It’s still impressive and beautiful. Count well 2 hours to go there. The road will be downhill one way.
From Cocachimba and back to Cocachimba: you will see the biggest part of the fall. You can go down a small path. The view is impressive. Count 2h-2h30 to go there. Be careful because it’s just a climb (and a bit of a dish).

Routes:

* From the bus terminal, Diplomaticos company, 45min, 5 soles.

The bus will drop you off at San Pablo.

* From San Pablo take a mototaxi, 30-40min, 4-6 soles (negotiable).

* If you make the whole circuit you will arrive in Cocachimba. From there, take a mototaxi to San Pablo (20min, 4-6 soles).

* Once in San Pablo wait for the mini van or hitchhike.

Difficulty: Medium. The most difficult is to walk in the mud, especially downhill.

Duration: If you made the full circuit San Pablo – Cascades – Cocachimba, count between 6am and 7am depending on your pace (we did 7h with plenty of breaks but with a good pace). Otherwise San Pablo at the first fall, 2 hours ago. If you start in Cocachimba to see the biggest fall from below, count well 2:30 one way.

Rates: 20 soles. But if you arrive before the opening of the offices … it’s free;)

Tips: Take a rain jacket, good shoes and especially go super early to avoid the crowd. If you have to choose between option 2 and 3, I recommend option 3 because it’s more beautiful (I think) and this side of the forest is pretty duper. On the other hand it’s a good climb.

What: The Yumbilla Falls are the second highest grade in the world, according to Peruvians, with a height of 896m.

How:

* Solo, as shown below. The hike is done in the jungle. You can see many species of plants, birds and monkeys (we have not seen any). The trail is very well marked. You will arrive at a watchtower from which you will be able to see all the valley, it is superb. Then you will reach a first waterfall: Medio Cerro, behind which you will have to pass to continue the path. Ten minutes later you will reach the beautiful Cristal waterfall which is split into two portions; it’s really nice too. Continuing the trail about fifteen minutes you reach the famous waterfall Yumbilla which you send that part (two waterfalls out of four, the others are accessible only with a guide). It’s majestic! The landscape is splendid. Once reached, turn back.

Routes:

* From the bus terminal, ETSA company, 1h10min, 5 soles.

The bus will drop you off at Pedro Ruiz.

* From Pedro Ruiz take a mototaxi to Cuispes, 30min, 15 soles (negotiable). The price is for the motorcycle taxi, if you are 3 it is divided by three but the total will remain 15 soles.

* Since Cuispes, you can take a mototaxi to advance or walk to the beginning of the official path (1 hour walk).

Difficulty: Easy.

Duration: Since Cuispes 2h-2h30 go and the same thing to return.

Rate: 10 soles.

Tips: Take a rain jacket, good shoes and especially go super early to avoid the crowd.

What: Revash is a funeral site Chachapoyas in the form of a mausoleum on several floors embedded in the mountain of 14-15th century. The Chachapoyas built this type of burial site for their high society dead. Many generations were embedded because they wanted all members of the same family to end up in their lives after death. Nowadays there is nothing inside, but the stories dating from 1930 relate that once they kept their dead mummified with all kinds of objects (gold, silver, ceramics etc). The term “Revash” comes from an old language but nobody knows the meaning. On the mausoleum we will notice motifs like the cross. At that time there was still no writing and in Andean society, people used symbols. The meaning is still a mystery but the cross could be a sign of orientation, such as the Andean cross (chacana) among the Incas. The colors chosen to paint the mausoleum were red, yellow and white, derived from minerals and stones. These colors were the colors used by the Chachapoyas.

The museum of Leymebamba, which is 45 minutes drive from Revash, is an extremely interesting place where you can learn more about the Chachapoyas culture. There are mummies (more than 200) that were in the sarcophagi and mausoleums of Laguna de los Condores. In the museum, there are replicas of traditional houses that could be found in the Kuelap site, as well as reproductions of sarcophagi such as can be admired in the Karajia site. There are also reproductions of the different mausoleums and funeral sites that can be admired in the region.

How:

* With a tour: there are many agencies that offer day trips. They cost about 110 soles and include: a guide, transportation, the entrance to Revash and museum, lunch.

* Solo: you have to go to the village San Bartolo. From Chachapoyas, there are combis that go to San Bartolo (2h). For the museum it is necessary to go to Leymebamba then to take another transport to go there because it is outside the city.

Routes:

* Chachapoyas – San Bartolo: From the bus terminal, about 2 hours, less than 10 soles. Then walk 30-40min.

* San Bartolo – Leymebamba (museum): 1 hour by car then 15min to the museum.

Difficulty: Easy.

Duration: 2 hours on the site because you have to walk from San Bartolo for 40 minutes to go.

Price: Revash costs 10 soles. The museum costs 40 soles.

Tips: If you do not have a lot of time and both sites interest you, take a ride; more with the explanations of a guide is really nice. You can trade it at less than 110 soles. Remember to take anti mosquito product and good shoes (there may be mud and rain). Beware because the museum closes at 16:30.

What: The canon of Sonche is a point of view on the cannon since the village of Huancas. You can see the mountains and waterfalls from a large watchtower. There is another gun, Huanca de Urco, accessible from Huancas also but we could not do it because of bad weather.

How: On foot from Chachapoyas or by minivan.

Routes:

* 2 hours from the Plaza de Armas to the Huancas Viewpoint.

* 20 minutes in combi van.

Difficulty: Easy.

Duration: On site 10 minutes but there were paths along the mountain.

Price: 3 soles the Canon of Sonche. The other I do not know I could not go.

Tips: Remember to take clothes against the rain … If it’s ugly do not go the clouds may clog the view.

There is so much more to do in the area. If you have the time, here are some additional ideas:

* Caverna of Quiocta: stalactites and mummies.

* Valley Huaylla Belén: rainforest.

* Wanglio: petroglyphs.

* Laguna de los condores: On three days with a guide; mausoleums and sarcophagi in a breathtaking landscape.

Advices

The area is beautiful. Take the time to take the time 🙂

There are so many beautiful things to see and discover, especially if you like Peruvian culture and archeology. There are also many species of plants, flowers and animals that can not be seen elsewhere.

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