Chachapoyas: an amazing kept secret of Peru
Named after the pre-Inca culture that lived in the region, Chachapoyas is a town full of rich history and spectacular natural beauty. Here you will find the world's largest waterfalls and immense archaeological centers, in addition to the city's charming colonial architecture.
A city among the clouds
Located at 2483 meters above sea level and amidst the mountains of northern Peru, Chachapoyas earns the title of the nation's best kept secret. The city is the capital of the department of Amazonas, and therefore the hub of many activities for travelers seeking adventure and at the same time soak up the cultural and historical past of the area.
The Chachapoyas were a pre-Inca archaeological culture, who lived in the heights of the cloud forest of the Utcubamba Valley. The Spanish translation of the Quechua word Chachapoyas is literally people of the clouds.
Sarcófagos de Karajía
In the second half of the 15th century, the Incas conquered the Chachapoyas, which marked the beginning of the end of this rich culture of ancient Peru. Little is known about the customs and lifestyle of the Chachapoyas, but important archaeological discoveries have been made in the area, such as the architectural stone complex of Kuelap. With colossal walls and complex interior architecture, to this day it is unknown how long its flourishing lasted and when and why it was abandoned.
Architectural stone complex of Kuelap
How to get to Chachapoyas?
The easiest way to get to Chachapoyas is by air. There are direct flights between Lima and Chachapoyas departing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with Atsa Airlines. The ticket costs approximately US$130 round trip at the cheapest price. A cheaper option would be to fly to the city of Cajamarca (70 dollars round trip), and from there take a bus or bus to Chachapoyas, in a beautiful journey of 4 hours the Peruvian jungle eyebrow.
What to do in Chachapoyas?
The first thing is that you can walk the streets of the city, know the main square and the historic center, so you can get a sense of its people and the culture of the inhabitants of Chachapoyas. Then, the main attractions of the area are all quite close to the city. All the places that we will show you below can be visited through tours that you can hire in the center of the city, or you can do them on your own following our indications and recommendations.
Averaging 895 meters in height, the Yumbilla Waterfall is the third largest waterfall in the world. Unlike its much better known sister, the Gocta waterfall, this waterfall remains almost always free of large groups of tourists, providing a more intense immersion in nature.
How to get to the Yumbilla waterfall: From the bus terminal in Chachapoyas, you can take a bus in the direction of Pedro Ruiz, it will be approximately 1 hour and a half trip. From Pedro Ruiz you should take a motorcycle cab to Cuispes, asking the driver to drop you off at the entrance of the tourist office and the trail to the Yumbilla Waterfall. The trail takes about 5 hours round trip.
A place that photos simply do not do justice to. The immense Gocta Waterfall (771 meters high) is the fourth highest in the world and also the most famous in northern Peru. It is located in the middle of the cloud forest, surrounded by imposing vegetation and peeking through magical layers of mist.
How to get to the Gocta waterfall: From Chachapoyas you must take a bus to Bagua or Pedro Ruiz and tell the driver that you are going to Cocachimba. The bus will leave you at a point on the road where you can hire a motorcycle cab to take you to Cochachimba and the tourist office where the trail begins. The hike takes about 5 hours round trip. If you prefer not to walk, there are muleteers in the area that will take you only 2 kilometers from Gocta.
A place not to be missed if you are interested in local history and pre-Hispanic cultures. Kuelap is the largest archaeological center of the Chachapoyas, which today is rescued and even in the process of discovery. One of the most striking aspects of the visit to Kuelap is the opening of the cable car that takes you from Tingo to the architectural remains, in a 20-minute trip over a valley with breathtaking views.
How to get to Kuelap: From the bus terminal in Chachapoyas, buses leave almost every hour to almost the entrance of Kuelap, or to the entrance of the cable car. The cable car, round trip is 20 soles, and the entrance to Kuelap is 20 soles.
Sarcophagi of Karajia and Quiocta Cave
The immense Quiocta Cave is a perfect place to get to know a little more about the interior of mother earth. Walking through the darkness of the cave is a unique experience. Nearby are the Sarcophagi of Karajía, anthropomorphic statues erected on the walls of a cliff. They belong to the Chachapoyas culture and scientists have discovered excellently preserved mummies inside them.
How to get to the destinations: Both attractions are part of full day tours that agencies in Chachapoyas have in common. We recommend visiting them in this way, since traveling on your own is more expensive and will probably take longer if you do not know the area.
To find these small colorful houses in the middle of a ravine is an amazing experience. The mausoleums of Revash are a necropolis belonging to the Chachapoyas Culture and it is believed that they were collective graves.
How to get to the mausoleums of Revash: You must travel by bus from Chachapoyas to San Bartolo, from this picturesque town you start a 5km walk to reach Revash.
Located in the charming town of Huanca, the Sonche Canyon offers one of the most incredible views of the surrounding area of Chachapoyas.
How to get to Sonche Canyon: Huanca is only 10 km from Chachapoyas, and you can take a cab or bus to get there. From Huanca you can take a motorcycle cab to the canyon viewpoint and ask the driver to wait for you so that you do not have transportation problems on the way back.