Considered to be the gateway to the Northeastern high jungle, Chachapoyas boasts natural reserves, lagoons, waterfalls, archaeological sites, and impressive landscapes. Here are several sights in the Chachapoyas area that are not to be missed.
The fortress of Kuelap was considered by some to have been a military fortress and by others, an administrative and cultural center used by members of the Kuélap civilization. The complex is located at 3,000 meters above sea level in the high-jungle, and 35km south of the city in the Luya province. It houses 505 multi-leveled structures in its interior. It’s considered one of the major archeological sites in Peru and on an equal par with Machu Picchu. Kuélap has enormous historic, cultural and architectural significance, covering an area three times larger than Egypt’s Great Pyramid. From its 20-meter-high walls to its walled alleyways, Kuélap is a mysterious and wondrous archaeological treasure.
West of the fortress you’ll find the Gran Vilaya archeological complex. In these six hectares of land, there are roughly 5,000 circular and rectangular, limestone structures. Take Note: Among the urban centers that make up Gran Vilaya, La Escalera is a pre-Incan path that connects the town of Belén to Pirquilla – an archeological zone that is part of the historical site, though it is camouflaged and somewhat overgrown by vegetation.
Laguna de Los Condores
For those who have the time and physical stamina, a hike to the Lagoon of the Condors is spectacular, despite being very difficult to reach. Remember: It’s essential that you contract local guides, horses, and porters for this 3 to 5-day excursion. Apart from observing the archaeological remains in the area, which are located on a cliff-side, you can also enjoy the isolated, unspoiled wilderness. The six mausoleums onsite act a testament to the importance of the funerary rituals practiced by the Chachapoyas people.
Whether or not you visit the ruins themselves, you can still get an excellent sense of the experience a the Leymebamba Museum in Leymebama. The museum holds about 200 mummies and objects that were found around the Lagoon, making this very professional museum definitely worth a visit.
Though most tourists in the area choose to go to the Gocta, it is highly recommended that you instead make the trip to Yumbilla. This is the 3rd highest waterfall in the world, while Gocta is the 4th. Also, Yumbilla waterfalls receives a fraction of the visitors as does Gocta, meaning you’re likely to have the space to yourself. What’s more, is that Yumbilla waterfalls exists within a waterfall forest. Within the area, there are a handful of other waterfalls to visit. To get to Yumbilla waterfalls, you first need to find your way to the village of Cuispes. From here, you can hike to the falls.
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Credit: Ultimate Journeys Peru