How to Get to Kuelap Peru
Are you planning a trip to Peru and wondering how to get to Kuelap? Kuelap sits in the North of Peru and is home to a collection of pre-Incan ruins that are even older than Machu Picchu and far less crowded. In fact, explorers that have already experienced Kuelap are dubbing these ruins “the new Machu Picchu”.
Northern Peru gets very little press, as it is completely overshadowed by Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in the South. This is a blessing and a curse because on the one hand it means hundreds of thousands of people are missing out on what the North has to offer. On the other hand, it is great for you because you won’t have to jostle through crowds everywhere you go.
Until recently, there were only two ways to get to Kuelap, and neither was particularly appealing. The first was to drive along 32km of dirt road. The condition of the road only allows your vehicle to move at a snail’s pace and the journey takes over two hours each way. The second option was to hike. The hike, while beautiful, is highly challenging. It takes four hours to ascend and you gain 1,200ft of elevation as you go. The journey back is another two hours, making for a long day of hiking.
These lengthy travel times were sufficient to put many people off visiting these ruins, despite their magnificence. But, now there is a third option that is both time and cost effective. The Kuelap cable car opened to the public in January and has allowed both local villagers and travelers from around the world to visit the remarkable ruins. The journey from end to end of the cable car is 4km and it takes just 20 minutes to cover this distance.
From Lima, the best way to get to the North is to fly directly to Chachapoyas. This is a little town around 14 miles from the ruins. Use this town as your base for visiting the Kuelap ruins. From Chachpoyas you will need to head over to Nuevo Tingo by private transfer. From there, visitors must take a bus to the departure cable car station. This is a 3km journey and takes around ten minutes. It sounds like a lot of traveling, but this is all part of the adventure and once you’re on the road, these little journeys will fly by.
Once you arrive at the top of the cable car, you’ll be greeted with unparalleled views of misty clouds wrapping themselves around the top of the mountains. The lush valley spreads out for as far as the eye can see and the ruins are nestled in the heart of all this vegetation. For a moment, you can completely disconnect from modern civilization and breathe in the fresh, clean air this untouched patch of natural beauty.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore when you reach the ruins. This complex has been heralded by those in the know as the most impressive pre-Colombian ruins in South America. That’s a pretty cool title given the amount of competition that can be found across this continent. Once you’ve taken it all in and snapped as many photos as you can, it’s time to get back into the cable car and head back to reality.
However, just because you’ve seen the Kuelap ruins doesn’t mean there is nothing left to do in this part of the country. If you have a few more days, why not check out the spectacular Gocta Falls or the bustling market of Yerbabuena. You’ve travelled all the way to the North of Peru – you might as well make the most of your time there.
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