Chachapoyas and Kuelap

Chachapoyas Travel Blog

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Late start after getting into Chachapoyas at 5am.  However breakfast was still laid on for us and Ezac (lad who talked us into staying at hostel) was still on duty.  Really nice lad who after chatting for a while, insisted on showing us the sights of Chachapoyas once he had finished his shift.  He sorted Dave out with a shop to buy his much needed waterproof jacket (best bet was a plastic poncho which Dave is currently refusing to model for a photo !!) before taking us for a walk up a local hill to get good views over the town.  Ezac spent a total of 3 extra hours with us in the scorching heat before we insisted on him leaving us to it after he got a phone call from a friend asking where he was.

  Spent the rest of the afternoon getting out of the scorching sun, relaxing and making friends with the hostel cat (Michi) - only 7 weeks old.  The best restaurant in the town was just opposite from the hostel so treated ourselves to a mixed grill - superb.  Dave getting withdrawl symptomsd from not having his IPod so plugged my MP3 player into his speakers and was really surprised to find plenty to his taste (the cheek) although finding Final Countdown by Europe was much more in line with his expecations !

The following day we woke to find Ezac had booked us onto a tour up to Kuelap.  We had bottled out of our original intention to walk the 5 hours up hill from Tingo to Kuelap.  Instead the 2 hour drive was a real bone shaker, made worse by the fact the driver had no care for the suspension and drove like it was an English motorway (which it certainly wasnt).

  The road also gave me 2nd thoughts about cycling down the worlds most dangerous road in Bolivia, on the logical conclusion that this road is safer !.

Kuelap is a pre-Incan fort built between 900-1100 AD by the Chachapoyan civilisation and is advertised as "the only ruin to match the grandeur of Machu Picchu".  However as we had proved, it is way off the gringo trail and therefore most people dont bother doing the 2 day travelling to see it - which is exactly why we wanted to see it.  Only made accessible to tourism in the 1970s, it wasnt even listed in my 2004 Rough Guide.  On arrival, the 10 of us in our group had the hilltop 1km x 500m fort to ourselves.

Kuelap is certainly worth the effort with much of the ruins in extremely good condition.

  Kuelap was never actually defeated but was abandoned (possibly due to water supply) and the Incas moved in to an empty fort when they found it 200 years later.  One of the guys on our trip (a Belgian who had done his masters on archaeology in Sheffield no less) was equally impressed stating that it was far more authentic, natural and less cleaned up than Machu Picchu.  We got a good couple of hours walking round the 150 or so structures including high walls, look out posts, houses, burial chambers (including bones) and sacrificial alters.  Very impressive with the backdrop over the surrounding hills adding to the awe of the fort.  

Went for dinner with Bert the Belgian and had exactly the same dinner at the same restaurant as the previous night before catching our longest bus yet (another overnighter - 14 hours to Trujillo).


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photo by: Belluomo