Peru: Chachapoyas, Nuevo Tingo and Kuélap
The north of Peru seems to not to be as popular as the south where Machu PIcchu is. However, we arrive in Peru from Ecuador. Therefore, we planned to make a stop in Chachapoyas and on this occasion visit Kuélap. First we visited the town of Jaén. We were bit lost. Moreover, we found out how cheap it is in Peru. It seems so that food is great too. Yet we hadn't expected such noise, chaos, and so much garbage.
On the other hand, Chachapoyas is much more pleasant. Colonial era architecture adds to the atmosphere. There are many hotels so there is no problem to find any accomodaiton. The town is pretty quiet. You can walk it through easily. Food is great and you can relax on the main square. Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor) is the main sqaure in the town. It is of square shape lined by colonial era houses with traditional balconies. Many houses are now restaurants or stores now.
You can make a trip from Chachapoyas to the nature to see waterfalls, for instance, or you can just travel to the Kuélap ruins. There we climb the hill to Nuevo Tingo village. There are only two hotels there but very nice. The village is very nice and quiet. It has this feeling that everything is new and clean. Even the square itself. They are building a cable car outside the village. The cable car is going to link the village with the ruins, therefore traveling by bus will become obsolete. So, the villagers with better entepreneual spirit have already started building hotels, hostels and restaurants. Nuevo Tingo is nice and quiet but there is one flaw. Nobody was able to tell us if there even goes a bus to Kuélap or not. When somebody confirmed there actually goes a bus the times of departure differed widely. Eventually, we would find out on the next day morning there are no buses to Kuélap. Only minivans transport tourists and they depart from Chachapoyas.
Three hours later of standing by the road and trying to hitchhike a car we finally got lucky. A car with German tourists stopped and took us in. The road to Kuélap was quite wild. No wonder that only minivans of tourists travel there. Today, it is much easier to get there because the cable car is operating now. Moreover, this is the first cable car in the country. Easier accessibility might lure in more tourists eventually.
Upon our arrival, we found it quite funny that you don't have to pay for tickets into the museum but it is closed because the stationed there has a lunch pause. We don't want to wait so we leave for the ruins situated about 15 minutes by walk from our current position.
Kuélap is a tourist and archeological icon of the northest of the country. The village is situated at 3000 meters. The village was of high religious, political, administration, and military importance. It flourished between the years 500 and 1450 AD when the Chachapoya people lived there. The fortress is surrounded by massive walls at some places as high as 30 meters. The length of the wall is 1900 meters. There are three entrances. There is one unique feature about them - they narrow down so much that eventually only one persone could come through which helped the fortress to remains safe and impenetrable.
Except the ruins, you can enjoy amazing vistas into the surroundings. Moreover, you can reach Kuélapa not only on a bus but also by walk. So we walked back to Nuevo Tingo. One can say it was rather jogging down the hill for 10 kilometers and of 100 meters of elevation. However, we would like to go back up on foot. The vistas were amazing. The weather was also very good yet quite unpredictable. After raining there is sun and so on and on again.
Nuevo Tingo was a nice and tranquil hamlet without any tourists. We liked it there very much. Unfortunately, the locals weren't able to give us better information. Perhaps the lady in Chachapoyas visitor center could have warned us about bus routes. Soon, however, we would find out that that was a glimpse of what would come later.
GPS: (Chachapoyas) 6°12'28.2"S 77°51'10.9"W
Text and photos: Tomáš Novák
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