Peru – Chachapoyas and the Cloudpeople

Once upon a time, in northern Peru closed in by the rivers Marañón and Utcubamba, there was the nation of the Chachapoya people. The name consists of the Quechua words for „tree“ and „cloud“ put together. The Chachapoya were conquered by the Incas in the 15th century, just before the Spanish conquistadors came and conquered the Incas. For the Incas it was not an easy task because the Chachapoya were a strong nation and good warriors with impressive fortresses. The base to explore the region is the city Chachapoyas which was named after that old culture. Close to the city there is also the supposedly third highest waterfall of our planet, the Gocta waterfall.

The fortress Kuelap is one of the most striking archaeological sights of the Chachapoya culture. The outer walls are up to 18 m high and inside there were around 300 round buildings. The fortress was also a pilgrims destination and a lot of religious practices took place. The Incas must have been impressed by this sight as well, as they did not bother to destroy anything, but some of there religious artifacts were found as well.

To get to the fortress is a bit of a challenge as it is far off the main road. We had to take two different buses but now actually a cable car is being built and will make the travel a lot easier in the future. We had a tent with us and spent one night next to the interpretation center which was pretty cold and the next day we walked down from there, which is a very steep short cut back to the main road.


The cable car is still under construction


The outer walls of Kuelap


One of three narrow entrances. On the slippery when wet and soft lime stone inside the tunnel some traces of the feet of heavily loaded Lamas can be seen.


Some Lamas inside the sight


The so-called inkwell. It has a hole on top in the middle and on its bottom a lot of bones were found. The most important people must have been buried here.


Supposedly the Chachapoya left this here


On the way back


It was really muddy and slippery

Next we went to a small village called Huancas. There is a deep canyon of which we had not thought that it would be so impressive. The village is reachable in only 20 Minutes from Chachapoyas. Amanda and I agreed that this place is wonderful and it must be nice to live here. The air was super fresh and the village as well as its inhabitants super tranquillo and friendly. The nice landscape adds up to it and the climate is perfect for growing all kinds of stuff. There was a nice house with a big garden for sale and I imagined how it would be to really live here.


The fantastic village Huancas


Deeeeep canyon


Mist was rising


And suddenly we arrived at the outer walls of a massive prison. I believe that if I had to go and could choose were to spent time imprisoned I would want to go here.


Typical adobe architecture

Finally we also went to the Gocta waterfall. It was recognized only in the year 2005 after a German guy led an expedition with some Peruvian adventurers. Sometimes the waterfall is listed further behind, not as the third highest but anyway it is pretty high with 711 m! The hike to get to its base is pretty nice as well. Unfortunately Amanda could not go so far because her shoes that she bought just for this did not fit very well. But at least there was already a viewing point a lot earlier so that she did not miss everything.


The energy of the water falling throwing the drops against me

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