Here is everything you need to know about the fascinating Amazonas region and its most interesting attractions:
Undoubtedly the most underrated archaeological site of Peru, Kuelap is an ancient walled city located in the southernmost part of Amazonas. Built by the Chachapoyas (contemporaries of the Inca Empire) in the 6th century CE, the site now consists of majestic ruins of the ancient stone structures and houses of the Cloud Warriors. Surrounded by deep cloud forests, the stone fortress is even older than the famous Machu Picchu.
The capital of the Amazonas region, Chachapoyas is a picturesque town that serves as the gateway to the archaeological ruins of the Chachapoyas culture and other tourist attractions of the region. The town is a nice place to stay; located at an elevation of 2,335 meters, it has a nice, moderate climate. The city itself has a few interesting tourist sites that are worth visiting.
A two and a half hour hike or horseback ride from the town of Chachapoyas through the majestic and mysterious Amazonas landscape takes you to one of the natural wonders of Peru—the Gocta waterfall. Leaping from a height of 771 meters, Gocta is one of the tallest cataracts in the world. Due to its high altitude location (2,235 m.a.s.l.), the waterfall enjoys dreamlike cloud cover at times. The locals believe that the falls are protected by a mermaid-like spirit.
The Caverns of Quiocta in Amazonas is another largely overlooked tourist attraction in Peru. Situated near the small town of Lamud, the wet and muddy natural caves have some gorgeous stalactite and stalagmite formations. The site is part of a ten-hour guided tour from the town of Chachapoyas.
At a distance of around 48 km from the town of Chachapoyas, there is another curious archaeological site of the Chachapoyas culture which is less visited by foreign tourists. Carajia, or Karijia, of the Utcubamba Valley in Amazonas is a place where eight Chachapoyan mummies or sarcophagi made of clay, sticks, and grasses were discovered. The mummies, which are carbon-dated to the 15th century, are unique in design and very different from Egyptian mummies.
The Laguna de los Condores, Lagoon of the Condors, is also known as the Laguna de las Momias (Lagoon of the Mummies) due to the excavation of mummies from this region. Located in the Leymebamba, or Leimebamba, district, the area is full of natural cave mausoleums of the Chachapoya culture that contain mummies wrapped in textiles and seated in a peculiar position. The cave walls are painted with symbols or pictographs.
Your visit to Amazonas is not going to be complete without a visit to this small yet important museum, which duly preserves the local history and cultural legacies. A few hours from Chachapoyas, the museum in the rural town of Leymebamba was built through an effective collaboration between the local communities, various experts, and international funding agencies. It stores the mummies and other treasures of the Inca-Chachapoya period. The museum proudly boasts its collection of 200 mummies and archaeological remains from the Laguna de los Condors.
Cover photo: A.Davey/Flickr
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