It is very likely that you have never heard of the Peruvian city of Chachapoyas. In the Inca country, sites such as Machu Picchu, Arequipa or Huancayo are much better known. However, Chachapoyas is another one of those places that is worth knowing if you go to Peru.
Chachapoyas is in the northern part of the country. It is the capital of the department of Amazonas and has a unique charm. It houses both an important cultural wealth and unmatched natural landscapes that are difficult to see in other parts of the world.
The good news is that this small city of just over 30,000 inhabitants, despite being located in the middle of the jungle, currently has a magnificent infrastructure for travelers and good communication routes. Therefore, it can be a very interesting and pleasant destination.
How to get to Chachapoyas
The most comfortable way to get to Chachapoyas is by air from Lima. Another option that is very attractive for many travelers is to combine the air route with the land route. It has the advantage that the journey can be made any day of the week.
One of the best alternatives is to travel by plane from Lima to Jaén, in Cajamarca, and from there take a bus or collective. In four hours you arrive in Chachapoyas, crossing some fantastic landscapes. Another option is to take a flight to Chiclayo and from there a bus. The tour lasts nine hours, but you will be able to appreciate all the splendor of the Peruvian coast.
Kuelap, one of the great attractions
Once you are in Chachapoyas, you cannot stop admiring its beautiful Plaza de Armas, a whole picture of colonial architecture. However, the most interesting of this city is on the outskirts of it and includes true natural and cultural gems.
One of the most interesting sites is the Kuelap fortress. This is a citadel built by the Chachapoya people, who were the original inhabitants of this place until the middle of the 15th century. Then they were invaded by the Incas and disappeared, leaving interesting vestiges of their culture.
Kuelap is located 3,000 meters high and to get there you must take a cable car, which is approached in a place called Nuevo Tingo, an hour’s drive from Chachapoyas. You can also get there walking along the trails of the place. The fortress includes buildings that are very well preserved, with walls that reach 20 meters in height.
The Gocta waterfall
La Gocta is the fourth highest waterfall in the world and it is said that no photograph does it enough justice. The site is absolutely beautiful and awe-inspiring. It is located in the middle of a cloud forest, wrapped in fabulous vegetation and almost always surrounded by a mist that gives an enigmatic hue to the entire landscape.
The waterfall is 771 meters high and is reached after a walk of about six kilometers through some dreamlike places. First you must go to a town called Cocachimba, an hour from Chachapoyas, and then do the walk, which lasts about six hours.
The lagoon of the Condors
This is an ideal place for nature lovers with the soul of explorers. You need to be in good physical condition and wear suitable clothing, since during the journey you will pass through muddy terrain, with sudden changes in temperature and varied landscapes.
The walk takes about 12 hours in total and you must leave from the town of Leymebamba, just two hours from Chachapoyas. Halfway there is a hostel to make a technical stop. At the end is this beautiful lagoon, where there are also some ancient mausoleums that house mummies. For this reason, it is also called the lagoon of the Mummies.
More interesting facts about Chachapoyas
Other very interesting places to visit are the Quioctam caverns, ideal for caving enthusiasts; the Yumbilla waterfall, a beautiful jungle site; the Sonche canyon, a shocking natural viewpoint; the Huaylla Belén valley and the archaeological remains of Yalape, among others.
The best time to visit these places is between April and September, since the climate is less rainy. In any case, you should always bring warm clothing, sunscreen and repellent. There are several accommodation options, suitable for all types of pockets.