48 hours in Chachapoyas
Today I propose you to visit Chachapoyas in just 2 days and see the main attractions of the Amazonas region in Northern Peru.
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The Magnificent Amazonas region
This year, in March 2017 should be inaugurated the first cable car of Peru. And it is near to Chachapoyas. We are in Amazonas, name of one of the regions of northern Peru, at the border with Ecuador.
This in order to improve the access to KUELAP, the fascinating citadel of the Chachapoya warriors, also called the Machu Picchu of the North.
The Amazonas region is becoming little by little in an unavoidable destination. It just has everything that any traveller wants: an impressive landscape of pre-Columbian and pre–Inca History, a great diversity of wildlife and an amazing flora.
After solving the problem of your arrival to Chachapoyas, you can begin your excursions and discoveries of this splendid region.
The accessibility should get better in this year 2017. We were once again promised new planes, including a direct flight from Lima. A topic to follow.
Chachapoyas, nice and friendly capital of the Amazonas region
Chachapoyas is the capital of the Amazonas region; we are at 2,335 m altitude. This remains an altitude that does not require a particular acclimatization.
It is rather a small capital, about 40,000 inhabitants (yes forty thousand), with a precious historical center, its wooden balconies, a colonial-style Plaza.
From the Uctubamba Valley, we ascended from 1,500 m to 2,335 m, but around there are still higher mountains, of about 3,000 m.
Living in Chachapoyas is a very pleasant experience. The downtown is quite small, the streets are very safe. Without any fear, I can send my children to do some shopping in the market of the city.
You undoubtedly want to taste the sweetness of life in Chachapoyas. It is easy to find a place to taste the local specialities.
Places to visit in Chachapoyas
You are going to spend 2 days in Chachapoyas. What should you definitely visit during a 2-day-stay in Chachapoyas?
The easiest way if you are already on the site, is to sign up for full day trips. They depart in the morning and return to Chachapoyas in the afternoon. I recommend for this type of service the tour agency Turismo Explorer.
You will be able to choose different themes: archaeology, nature, museums, caves…
Standard stay of 2 days in Chachapoyas
First day: KUELAP, the Chachapoya citadel
First, it is impossible to come to Chachapoyas and to not visit the citadel of the Chachapoya civilization, Kuelap !
Until 2 years ago, you could still be alone on the site as a visitor, which was incredible and exceptional also. Since this year, this is no longer the case. Even if the place does not yet have the attendance as a Machu Picchu; as a matter of fact, it has progressed last year.
In addition, the announcement at the national level of the upcoming opening of the cable car which will take visitors to Kuelap in 20 minutes has a growing interest in the public.
In fact, to access the site you first have to arrive by car or tour bus to the parking station in Nuevo Tingo. From there you have to go by bus. This bus takes you to the cable car. From there only starts the ascent of 20 minutes. In the end, you will always have to walk these 2 kms from the ticket office to the actual entrance of the site. As soon as the cable car opens, we will measure the time, to let you know if you actually earn some time !
The citadel with almost 7 hectares of surface continues to exert fascination on the visitor that discovers in the Chachapoya warriors builders without pair.
Those stones, millions in fact, that the Chachapoya used to build their walls, the access, their houses. It must have been and still is very impressive.
Kuelap is not easy to understand. During your visit, you need to imagine the layers and layers of construction of the houses during about 10 centuries, with the last layer dating of the period of the Inca presence, after 1470.
Kuelap, fortress or political and religious capital? Nowadays it seems that the archaeologists choose more the second solution. The debate however, is not closed due to these impressive walls, above 18 to 20 meters. Still the idea of a defense system is an option.
At the level of the Major Temple or Tintero, we found evidence of the 6th century, but even if we cannot go down further, we know that this same temple is built above other constructions, certainly, at least one or two centuries earlier. And from there onwards ? At the moment, we do not know, but we believe it can be even older.
On a day trip to Kuelap, followed by a lunch in a village near the citadel, you will not return to Chachapoyas before 5 pm. Enjoy the city and the night with a good Peruvian beer. Why not taste a typical dish of the region?
Second day in Chachapoyas with the visit of Gocta
Unlike Cuzco, where one has to get up very early to make day-visits, in Chachapoyas, tours start around 8:30 am. Take your breakfast quietly before starting your day.
For the second day – Why not a good dose of Nature? Then we recommend the magnificent waterfall of Gocta (771 m high in two falls).
This waterfall is one of the main attractions of the Amazonas region. Its success has been growing since the publication of its size in 2005 by our German explorer friend Stefan Ziemendorff. Our Indiana Schultz, respecting the specific rules defined by National Geographic (maximum two falls, water that falls vertically…) has announced for the first time the discovery of the third highest waterfall in the world.
The Amazonas region contains other fantastic waterfalls. You reach them by hiking in the preserved primary forests (hopefully this will continue) where you can meet fabulous birds and monkeys.
You will find the beautiful Yumbilla waterfall (896 m) in the community of Cuispes, a few kilometres from Pedro Ruiz, less touristy, but Gocta is still the most visited.
Two possible access to the waterfall
There are two possibilities to arrive to Gocta: By San Pablo de Valera or by Cocachimba.
San Pablo is the less touristy side, an atmosphere more of a community, traditional houses. From here you arrive at the first level of the fall.
Cocachimba at the other side of the valley is also a beautiful village. The roofs were redone to show something more than corrugated iron in this beautiful valley. Excellent point ! A different atmosphere, here you find restaurants, several hotels, including one excellent 3 star hotel and a very luxurious guest house. Both services with excellent views of the fall. From Cocachimba, you arrive at the foot of the falls.
Anyway, from one side or the other, it will be at least 2 hours of walking to get to Gocta from either of the two villages mentioned.
The afternoons in Chachapoyas
Each night, which will be not more than 1 or 2 nights finally, when you return to Chachapoyas, you can enjoy the different restaurants and cafes of the city. Or even try one of the very nice places where you can drink a bear. But this will be a next article.
After your excursion of the second day, if you are in a hurry, you can take a night bus directly and leave Chachapoyas to go to the Peruvian coast, and not miss one day of sightseeing.
Are 48 hours enough in Chachapoyas?
Finally, you saw what everyone wants to see in Chachapoyas. This region of Amazonas and around Chachapoyas deserves your stay.
Next week, we blow up accountants. No, I could not limit myself to this catchy title and only propose you 48 hours in this region. This was not possible.
I am going to talk next week, about what cannot be done or seen in Chachapoyas and its surroundings staying only 48 hours.
See you soon in the North of Peru.
Consult more articles :
- Raymi Llaqta : La fiesta del pueblo
- Responsible, rural and sustainable tourism : Definition, operation and challenges in northern Peru
- Welcome to the community of Chazuta, in the Peruvian Amazon