kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru22

Chachapoyas – Ancient Ruins and Giant Waterfalls

Chachapoyas – Ancient Ruins and Giant Waterfalls.

May 22, 2014 – May 25, 2014

Full Chachapoyas Photo Gallery Here.

chachapoyas_plaza1

Our first true destination in Peru was the high mountain village of Chachapoyas. Located in the foothills of the Andes at 2,235 meters  or 7,333 feet. We arrived early in the morning, after yet another all night bus ride.

Main Plaza of Chachapoyas.
Main Plaza of Chachapoyas.

chachapoyas1

By now we have gotten pretty used to the overnight buses. And I can actually manage to get a few hours of sleep on them! Chachapoyas turned out to be one of our favorite destinations in Peru, the small town high up in the mountains is surrounded by dozens of tourists destinations all within a day trip away. Dozens of ruins and natural wonders. We visited three of the most popular sites, the fortress of Kuelap, Gocta falls the second or third highest waterfall in the world (depending how you measure it) and the ancient cliff mausoleum of Revash. The town is named for the Chachapoyan people, a pre-Incan civilization who built the majority of dozens of surrounding ruins. The Chachapoyan civilization remained independent from the massive Incan civilization until they were conquered only just before the Spanish arrived in Peru.

Cuy, or Guinea Pig

Fried Cuy, popular in Peru and Ecuador.
Fried Cuy, popular in Peru and Ecuador.

We also had our first chance to taste Cuy, or Guinea Pig. Often deep fried and very expensive this dish is popular in both Ecuador and Peru. Shops selling this delicacy can be found everywhere. Krista had tried some Cuy on a trip to Peru 11 years ago, but I had not yet had the pleasure. We tried some in Chachapoyas, its taste was something between chicken and pork, but gamey and not very flavorful. If I had to sum up the experience in one word, which I don’t but will anyway, it would be – disappointing. There is actually very little meat on the Cuy, what you get is mostly skin and bone. We were happy to try it but decided we would skip it in the future and save the money.

Ruins of Kuelap

Mountain top fortress of Kuelap.
Mountain top fortress of Kuelap.

A three hour van ride from Chachapoyas up a very steep and winding dirt road, often a one lane track right alongside a five hundred foot drop was the ruins of Kuelap!

kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru8kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru9kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru7
Kuelap, the lost city of the Chachapoyan’s, a massive pre-Incan fortress that is little known to the world but rivals Machu Picchu in size.  Recently re-discovered and explored by archeologists this massive 600 meter by 400 meter roughly oval shaped stone fortress sits at the top of one of the many steep mountains in the area, giving those who built it an excellent view in every direction.  While at Machu Picchu its possible to get an organic almond milk latte, and it draws thousands of tourists everyday and costs hundreds of dollars to visit, Kuelap by contrast is almost completely unknown to the world and cheap to visit.  Our tour group was around ten people, and in all we saw perhaps 15 tourists while we were there.  If you want to explore unspoiled ruins without hundreds of tourists tromping about, consider visiting remote Kuelap.

One of three very narrow, easily defensible entrances to the fortress.
One of three very narrow, easily defensible entrances to the fortress.
Defenders could rain down arrows on attackers running up the stairs into the fortress.
Defenders could rain down arrows on attackers running up the stairs into the fortress.

kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru11kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru23

The massive fortress is still covered in the jungle vegetation it was found, giving it a very authentic untouched feel. The 600 by 400 hundred fortress is built on a massive stone platform built entirely by hand out of stone and dirt and surrounded by a tall stone wall. Inside archeologists found 420 circular buildings, various alters and military defenses, and grave sites.

420 circular homes were discovered inside, one has been reconstructed to show what they would have looked like.
420 circular homes were discovered inside, one has been reconstructed to show what they would have looked like.

kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru22 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru21 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru20kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru12 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru13 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru14kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru29

kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru18 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru17More massive stone walls separated the sacred inner city from the outer city.

More massive stone walls separated the sacred inner city from the outer city.

Bones can still be seen between the stones of the some of the grave sites.
Bones can still be seen between the stones of the some of the grave sites.

kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru25 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru26 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru27 kuelap_ruins_chachapoyas_peru28

Gocta Waterfall

Gocta Falls, actually two waterfalls, falls a combined 771 meters of 2,530 ft.
Gocta Falls, actually two waterfalls, falls a combined 771 meters of 2,530 ft.

This massive waterfall a couple hours from Chachapoyas is somewhere between the second and sixteenth tallest in the world (depending on who you talk to).  Locals proclaim it as either the second or third tallest in the world, however online searches reveal different answers.  Gocta is actually two waterfalls one atop another.  Much of the differences on its world height ranking depend on if you measure it as one continuous waterfall or two separate waterfalls. Combined Gocta falls measures 771 meters  or 2,530 ft.

Our arrival was a bit cloudy and dark and we were wondering if we would be able to see much at all.

A cloudy day to see the falls, one of my favorite pictures.
A cloudy day to see the falls, one of my favorite pictures.

However later in the day as we hiked in the clouds cleared and were given amazing views of the falls.

gocta_falls_peru2 gocta_falls_peru3 gocta_falls_peru4That little green figure is a person walking towards the falls.

That little green figure is a person walking towards the falls.

gocta_falls_peru5 gocta_falls_peru7Our walk back to the van.

Our walk back to the van.

Krista drinking an Inka Cola, after the hike.
Krista drinking an Inca Cola, her favorite type of soda pop, after the hike.

Cliff Mausoleum of Revash

revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru12

After a day of rest, laundry, and figuring out our next travel plans, we explored a cliff side village the pre-Incan Chachapoyan’s built into the side of a cliff to serve as a resting place for many of their dead. This city for the dead is accessible by another couple hour van ride and a couple hour hike uphill where we were able to explore the cliff side dwellings.

Views from the hike up.

revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru1revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru2revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru3revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru5revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru6 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru7 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru8 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru9 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru10 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru11 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru13 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru14 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru15 revash_cliff_mausoleum_peru16

Leymebamba Museum

After visiting Revash we went to the Leymebamba museum where many of the mummies found at Revash and other sites in the area are found. The bodies were positioned in a fetal position after they died. The years of decay and decomposition have given them a quite unintentional but very chilling appearance.

leymebamba_revash_museum1 leymebamba_revash_museum2leymebamba_revash_museum3After our tour returned a bit late at 7pm, we rushed to catch our 7:30pm bus to our next stop of Trujillo, near the coast.

 

3 thoughts on “Chachapoyas – Ancient Ruins and Giant Waterfalls”

  1. Hey Wrichard! I’ve been creeping on your trip from Portugal. It looks and sounds awesome! Soo jealous. Sounds like you guys are having a great time, keep up the awesome posts!

  2. So was it aliens that built Kuelap and Revash? That’s all the history channel keeps saying…

Comments are closed.