Horseback Riding to the Black Pearl of the Chachapoyas – The Condors’ Lagoon

Hidden gem in the North
Hidden gem in the North
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  • 4 Days, 3 Nights Starts at 6 am
  • Starting pointLeymebamba
  • Group Size: 2 - 12
  • April through NovemberNot on Saturdays and Sundays
  • BookingsBook 1 week in advance
  • Difficulty: Quite hard. Horseback riding in tough conditions

Go horseback riding to the Condors’ Lagoon in the North of Peru! Discover the beauty of the so-called Black Pearl of the Chachapoya and the almost untouched nature surrounding it! 

On this four-day tour, we will take our time to explore the Condors’ Lagoon (“Laguna de los Cóndores” in Spanish), situated close to Leymebamba. We will make our way to the lagoon on day one (hiking and taking a horse) and back down on day four. The rest of the time, we will have our homebase in a basic accommodation just next to the lagoon. From here, we will head out each day to explore the surroundings; you will visit an ancient mausoleum and learn about the Chachapoya culture, and visit some hidden waterfalls. 

This experience is off-the-beaten-path tourism at its best. Few tourists have set foot on the trails you will be discovering and chances are high you will not meet another soul on this trip, except for the people accompanying you. 

For more off-the-beaten-path experiences, have a look at all tours of this category. We also invite you to have a look at all of our Travel Styles to find just the right activities for you!

Day by Day

Day 1Leymebamba - Condors' Lagoon (2.700m altitude)

Today, we will pick you up at your hotel at 7 am (after breakfast) to start our journey towards the Condors’ Lagoon. 

Hiking and/or going by horse, we will pass by the beautiful Valley of the Atuen river. From here, we will ascend to the “La Fila” pass, situated at 3.800 meters above sea level (12.500 feet). This pass is a great spot to observe the mountain chains of the Amazonian Andes. Take in these incredible views over the lush vegetation for a while and recharge your energy. Finally, we will descend, crossing the Canyon of the Condors (“Cañon de los Cóndores”; not to be confused with the “Cruz del Condor” in the Colca Canyon).

During the whole trip, you will be surrounded by the cloud forest and the fresh air coming with it, until you finally arrive at the so-called “Casa Ullilen”, located next to the Condors’ Lagoon (aka Laguna de los Cóndores, at 2.700 m / 8.850 feet). You will also have lunch at some point during the route, surrounded by nature. 

After this long day, dinner awaits you, and then a well-deserved good night sleep. The Casa Ullilen will be our homebase for the next three nights, enabling us to explore the Condors’ Lagoon and its surroundings in the best possible way. 

Please note: The night before your trip, we would like to welcome you to Leymebamba and organize a small meeting with your official guide and local guide to give you some instructions and measure your shoe size. This meeting takes place at 7 pm in our office in Leymebamba. We would appreciate it if you could make the time to meet us there! 🙂

Tour today: 9-10 hours, hiking: 4-5 hours 

Day 2Condors' Lagoon - Mausoleum of Revash - Condors' Lagoon (2.700m altitude)

The fresh air of the cloud forest will wake you up in the morning and remind you of the adventures that await you today.

After breakfast, we will head off to explore the Condors’ Lagoon and all of its splendor. The water of the lagoon appears almost black (which is how it has come to its nickname “Black Pearl of Leymebamba”) and contrast beautifully with the surrounding green vegetation.

First, we will cross the lagoon by boat to then start our hike towards the nearby mausoleum. At its discovery, more than 200 mummies belonging to the Chachapoya, Inca and early colonial times have been found here.

After this interesting revelation, we will return to the Condors’ Lagoon. Here, you can make the most of your time by going on another boat ride, going fishing or simply observing the unique flora and fauna. 

Dinner will be served at Casa Ullilen before it’s time to rest again.

Hiking today: 4-5 hours

Day 3Condors' Lagoon - Waterfalls - Condors' Lagoon (2.700m altitude)

After breakfast, we will again take a boat to cross the lagoon, this time towards its easternmost end. This is the starting point for our hike towards some hidden waterfalls. 

Lunch will be served in the midst of nature and we will take our time to enjoy the peacefulness of this place. Then, we will continue hiking throught the surrounding mountains. We will advance slowly because the place is more or less untouched and the path very small. Your guide will go first to get rid of any obstacles blocking the way. 

Today, we will also make breaks at the lagoon to fish some trouts, which you can have for dinner. (But don’t worry, if you are vegetarian, you will be provided with appropriate dishes for your needs.) 

You will spend one last night at Casa Ullilen.

Hiking today: 4-5 hours 

Day 4Condors' Lagoon - Leymebamba - Community Museum

Take in the views over the Condor Lagoon one last time before heading back to Leymebamba.

We will have an early start to arrive there before 4 pm and have enough time to pay a visit to the Community Museum of Leymebamba. Here, different archaeological materials are exhibited that have been found at the mausoleum you visited before. More mummies are displayed, as well.

You can also learn about the war-spirit of the Chachapoyas and how the Incas defeated them regardless. Different techniques used by the Chachapoyas to prepare their deceased for eternal resting are shown, such as sarcophagus, niches and mausoleums. Finally, you can learn what a ‘Quipu’ is  and admire a whole collection of them.

After the visit to the museum, your adventure ends and you can head on to your next one! 

Tour today: 9-10 hours, hiking: 4-5 hours 

Small version of transparent round logo of RESPONSible Travel Peru

Why is this experience Impactful?

All of our providers, meaning the guide, local guide, porter, owner of the accommodation, and the shops where we buy our provisions, are local and part of the “asociación de Turismo, Cultura y Medio Ambiente” (association for tourism, culture and the environment). 

We try to reduce negative impacts: single-use plastic is reduced to the maximum. The horses that will accompany us on this trip are well treated. 

The price you pay for this tour includes a donation to buy organic fertiliser, which will be used for reforestation projects. Thus, you also support the women who work as farmers and produce this fertilizer in a town called “Cuemal”. 

By paying the entrance fee to the conservation area “Los Chilchos” by the lagoon, you contribute to its sustainability. 


Price Includes

  • Bilingual guide (English-Spanish)
  • Entrance tickets
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner(Except for dinner on day 4)
  • Horse, local guide and porter
  • Water refills
  • Necessary equipment Helmet, rubber boots, jackets, flashlight, sleeping bag

Price Excludes

What to Bring

Frequently Asked Questions

About Horseback riding to the Condors' Lagoon

Is this tour physically demanding?

Yes, because going by horse for a long time can be quite strenuous. 

We only recommend it to people of 18 years or more. 

Can I go on this tour without taking the horse?

No, there are some parts where you definitely need the horse. If you have never ridden a horse, don’t worry. You will be guided by professionals who will be by your side at all times. At some parts of the route, you will also be able to walk. 

What's the accommodation like at the lagoon?

The accommodation is very basic and there is no hot water available for the shower. You would have to take cold showers or ask for the owner to boil some water in the kitchen. 

What kind of weather should we expect during this route?

In the mountains, it can get cold, windy, rainy and sunny all on the same day. Make sure to prepare for the changin weather by bringing clothes for any circumstances. 

How to get to Leymebamba?

There are several ways to get to Leymebamba. 

From Chachapoyas, you can take a local transport and get to Leymebamba within 2 hours. 

From Cajamarca, it takes 8 hours. Transport agency: Virgen del Carmen


General questions

For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!

Your Travel Designer

Marilyn Velásquez

Marilyn was born in Leymebamba and studied tourism. She is our greatest partner in the Amazonas region, knowing every corner of its geography and its people. She perfectly understands our way of doing things with responsibility. She also believes that the benefits of tourism should be distributed in a fair way, recuperating the forests and ancestral wisdom.

Our relationship has many years in the count since she was selling trips around Chachapoyas from the headquarters she founded herself: Café Fusiones. The best coffee place in the city and the best example of a fairtrade shop. Now she lives in Spain, but often visits her birthplace in Peru to continue innovating and creating tourism products that are transformative, regenerative, and sustainable.