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A Guide to Chachapoyas, Peru

  |   Peru

There seems to be no end to the wonder and mystery being unearthed in Peru. The small, rugged town of Chachapoyas has recently made headlines around the world as being the next big thing in this already deeply fascinating South American country. If you’re looking for adventure and want to explore somewhere off the beaten track, Chachapoyas should be your first port of call. 

Photo courtesy of Gocta Andes Lodge

Photo courtesy of Gocta Andes Lodge

Nestled in the mountains of northern Peru, Chachapoyas could be justifiably described as the nation’s best kept secret. For centuries, the little town was left in virtually complete solitude, bar the local villagers that call it home. The occasional traveller might pass through in search of the Kuelap ruins, but these occurrences were few and far between. However, in January, Chachapoyas was thrust in the limelight as the Kuelap cable car opened for business. 

The Kuelap cable car now allows easy access to the astonishing Kuelap ruins, which are situated just outside of Chachapoyas. Dubbed ‘the new Machu Picchu’, these ruins are rapidly gaining popularity and increasing the footfall in the town. 

Now you know what’s going on in present day Chachapoyas, let’s go back in time and learn about its history and culture.

A Guide to Chachapoyas Peru

The People of Chachapoyas

The Chachapoyas were a group of pre-Incan people who lived high up in the cloud forests of the Utcubamba Valley in what is present day Peru. They were also known as Warriors of the Clouds. 

In the second half of the 15th century, the Incas conquered the Chachapoyas people and this marked the beginning of the end of the Chachapoyas culture. Little is known about this ancient civilisation, but what we do know has been discovered through the study of their ruins. 

The Kuelap ruins, built between the 6th and 9th centuries, are the best example of Chachapoyas architecture.

Kuelap Tours

The Town of Chachapoyas and its Surrounding Area

The town of Chachapoyas is similar to many other Peruvian towns in that it has a magnificent Plaza de Armas and a mixture of old and modern buildings. The stand out feature of this town, however, is its noticeable lack of tourists. The town is authentically Peruvian and clearly bears the marks of the various influences brought by different cultures over the centuries. 

While the town of Chachapoyas is delightful to explore, the real attractions of this area lay just outside the boundaries of the town. Aside from the Kuelap ruins, visitors should make time in their schedule for a trip to the Gocta Falls. A trek through thick swathes of cloud forest takes you to an opening from which you can enjoy uninhibited views of the powerful waterfalls. Surrounding the cascades are miles of emerald vegetation, peeking out behind layers of mist. It is a truly magical sight to behold and one that photos simply cannot do justice. 

For more natural beauty, the Sonche Canyon and the Laguna de los Condores sit just a few kilometres from Chachapoyas and both make for fantastic day trips. You’ll be able to drink in the untouched wilderness and spend a day disconnected from the modern world, which is really what an adventure vacation should be all about. 

Photo Courtesy of Gocta Andes Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Gocta Andes Lodge

How to Get to Chachapoyas

The easiest way to get to Chachapoyas is to hop on a flight. There are several direct flights that leave from Lima throughout the day. Flights take around an hour and are usually reasonably affordable. If you don’t like flying or you would rather take a more scenic option, there are also buses that leave from Lima and nearby towns, such as Chiclayo and Cajamarca. 

Now you’re fully informed of everything you need to know about the mystical Chachapoyas, all that’s left to do is to turn your dream into a reality. We recommend booking your trip during the dry season, which falls between May and September. For more information please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises, Galapagos Islands tours, and Southeast Asia cruises. We provide you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama and Southeast Asia. As travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure.