Rediscovering Chachapoyas in Northern Peru

Nowadays, the name of Chachapoyas reverberates, but this is really not surprising as Chachapoyas has more history than almost any other city in the country. For decades, it was shadowed by an apparent indifference that kept it disconnected from the rest of the territory. The Incas, for their part, knew about its importance, and so did the Spaniards. It is therefore understandable that it was the sixth city to be founded (a couple of years after Cuzco and Lima, but before Arequipa).

Its ancient inhabitants, a culture of the same name (Chachapoya), are said to have roamed the area between 500 and 900 A.D. already. Thanks to their alliance with the Europeans, they lasted longer than the Incas, giving themselves enough time to completely understand their habitat and perfectioning every aspect of their lives as evidenced by their arts, architecture, military strategies, religion and others.

The Sarcophagi of Karajia, Chachapoyas - RESPONSible Travel Peru
The Sarcophagi of Karajia, Chachapoyas

When you start to learn about Chachapoyas you almost immediately hear about Kuelap or Gocta. But truth is, there is a lot more than that; Karajia, Revash, Quiocta, Leymebamba, Huaylla Belén, Yumbilla, Chinata; the list goes on and on.

Recommended reading: 6 Ways to Spend a Free Day in Leymebamba, Northern Peru

And if you are into wildlife we absolutely have to talk about the Marvelous Spatuletail, the Yellow-tailed Wooly Monkey, or the recently spotted “blonde” Spectacled Bear individual moving around.

Landscapes, so abrupt and dramatic that many of the tallest waterfalls not only of the country but of the world are found here. Palm forests at 2500 m (8200 ft) and cemeteries of mummies at about the same elevations. Caverns, so large and deep that the biggest part of them remains yet to be discovered. All of this and much more distinguishes the region of Chachapoyas.

The living culture is greatly celebrated here as well. The main amazonian identity festivity takes place in June, while the main religious festivity is in August. None of them coincide at all with other major celebrations in the rest of the country, so there are no excuses not to assist.

How do I get to Chachapoyas in Northern Peru?

At the present moment, direct flights from Lima are commercially available after decades of reluctance from private companies. More frequent flights go to the neighboring main cities (Tarapoto, Chiclayo, Cajamarca,Jaen), from where smaller airplanes or busses can be taken to complete the route. Chachapoyas is pushing to have more visitors and its brand new cable car to Kuelap is proof of it. Certainly, the infrastructure and touristic services are not comparable with the ones in the southern part of the country. But you will certainly be surprised to see top-quality highways and high standard hotels in places where you would not expect them.

The region is pinpointed by places of interest and connected thanks to the Utcubamba river, and its archaeological jewel, Kuelap. As it sits in the mountains, looking over the high jungle, comparisons with the world-renowned valley of the south and its are inevitable. But Chachapoyas shines with its own light.

The citadel of Kuelap in the Chachapoyas area - RESPONSible Travel Peru
The citadel of Kuelap in the Chachapoyas area

Discover Chachapoyas with RESPONSible Travel Peru

RESPONS invites you to get off the mainstream tourism path and discover a Peru you have probably never imagined. You can find our favourite excursions to the Chachapoyas area here and book them directly if you wish to. If you prefer getting some help from our travel specialists in planning your perfect holiday to Chachapoyas, northern Peru or even to the whole country, write us at [email protected]. Even better: if you take a little more time and fill out our brief questionnaire we’ll get right back to you.

Chachapoyas is awaiting your visit and you won’t regret it.

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