We waited, and they did it ! The cable car Kuelap finally works. It was inaugurated on March 2 by the President of the Republic of Peru.
Today, I made a very long article. But it is the topic of the moment in Peru and even more in the Amazonas region, so it was worth it in my opinion.
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You should know, the cable car Kuelap is the first built in Peru. Other regions, besides our tourist Amazonas region, had submitted the projects for the construction of a cable car. I will quote Arequipa with two projects, one to climb the famous Misti volcano.
Authorities have finally chosen the Amazonas region, the people of Chachapoya and the citadel of Kuelap to build the first cable car.
This project is not new. But today, after 10 years of negotiations, planning, elaboration, papers, a year and a half of works and tests, it finally works.
The consortium that carried out the work is partly French, because the company Pomagalski from Grenoble participated in the elaboration and realization of the project. They obtained the concession for the management of the cable car during the first 20 years of “operation”. (The period started the day when work began in August 2015.)
Living in the region, I have recognized many people from the nearby communities that had received an invitation to test the cable car.
As always here, we were only informed one week before the date of the inauguration. It began last Sunday with the inhabitants of the nearest town.
The opportunity has apparently offered many people the chance to discover the citadel of Kuelap and the history of their Chachapoya ancestors. For many it was the first time they visited Kuelap. There was so much emotion around the cable car.
I took this tour by cable car to verify the advertising that claims “Get to Kuelap in 20 minutes.”
Well, there is still the journey from Chachapoyas to El Tingo. Personally, I have my own vehicle. As my invitation is for a specific time and I do not want to be late, I leave my house in Chachapoyas at 8:05am.
We pass the Uctubamba Valley and then climb to the height of El Tingo. The town was created about 23 year ago, after the landslides that had buried the village near the river. Fortunately, there were no victims; the people were in the fields at that time.
The total route is 38 kms and takes about 40 minutes. We arrive at the parking ”to board the bus”, part of the company’s services.
No, we cannot get directly to the cable car; you have to go with the official boarding buses. First you buy the ticket and wait for the bus that takes you to the boarding of the cable car, which is between 2.5 and 3 kilometres and a little higher up on the road to Kuelap.
I arrived at the parking car where I had to present my sesame, that is, my invitation.
For those who come with their own car, I do not know how it will happen, because apparently it was not planned for many parking spaces, being this a place of passenger landing.
The operation of the cable car Kuelap is currently planned as follows:
Tickets can be purchased only on site, and not on the Internet, surely it will come soon. The ticket office opens at 8:30 am, and the first bus to the cable car starts at 9:00 am.
The round – trip ticket to the cable car Kuelap costs 20 soles or 6 euros. This includes bus transfer, mandatory.
On the ticket, the bus departure time has been recorded BUT also the return time. The visitor will choose this schedule at the time of purchase of his cable car ticket. What does that mean? This means that you have to respect the schedule and present yourself at the time written on the ticket. This seems very difficult; the time of visit to the citadel varies from one person to another depending on their interest about archaeology. Between 1:30 hour and 3 hours.
We are still in a trial period and it is true that the main worry is that the attraction that will constitute the cable car Kuelap does not make the visit to this extraordinary site in a total chaos. This is up to all of us, authorities, travel agencies… But should we impose so many rules, when operators should be the ones who must control their own flow and the discipline of their clients?
At 9:45 as it is written on the invitation, I am lucky to board the bus to arrive a little 10 minutes later at the place of embarkation to the cable car, located 3 kilometres above.
We get off the bus and from there it goes directly to the cabins. The bus has a capacity of 20 people and each cabin for 8 people with a maximum weight of 640 kg.
The 20-minute journey can begin, this journey is really impressive, we pass over the valley and go back up a stepped slope on the other side. How will it be when we descend?
The route of the cable car measures about 4 kms on this cable with the support of 23 steel towers. 26 cabins are in action. Our trip lasts 23 minutes. We are on time.
It is 10:30 when we get to La Malca. It is always here where the visitor buys the ticket to the citadel of Kuelap, the price has not increased this year 2017. You pay still 20 soles or 6 euros, such as the cable car. We recommend that you take a local guide.
If I had left directly from my house in my car until La Malca, the route would have taken about 2:20 for 75 kilometres. The cable car Kuelap made me win 10 minutes.
Actually it should be able to make it much better. You leave Chachapoyas at 8 am, arrive at the bus station at 8:40, buy the ticket at 9 am for the first turn at 9:15. When you arrive at the ticket booth for Kulap, it should be 9:40. In this case, you win (I insist if you are well organized) 40 minutes. This will make it possible to visit other attractions, such as Leymebamba and visiting the museum on the same day.
Yes, the clientele of this inauguration is mainly national. Certainly, Europeans that maybe take every year a cable car to go skiing, will not be very impressed by this structure. However, they will enjoy time saving and be able to see more on the same day.
I think it would be reasonable to use one way through the cable car and the other by the normal route as before. So we can continue to pass through the three villages on the road to Kuelap, Choctamal, Longuita and Maria and enjoy the quietness of this beautiful roads.
But we must remember once again that this cable car is the first in the country, a pride, something you will have to see, visit. The number of national visitors in the first place should grow seriously in the coming weeks and especially around the Holly week, a period traditionally dedicated to travel for Peruvians.
The government still promises better access to Chachapoyas with new airlines. We will talk about this when it is a little more concrete, because here in Peru, you never know much in advance.
I take these few lines to make a call to all of you, this is important for me ! Please, when you visit Kuelap, take a local guide and buy some of the ladies who sell souvenirs. This is the only way the community can earn something with your visit. Otherwise, you know that you pay the cable car to an international consortium and the entrance fee goes directly to the Ministry of Culture of Lima.
To know more about the history of the site, I invite you to read an earlier article based on the history of Chachapoyas. Kuelap is truly a unique and fascinating site.
This work lasts in theory from 9 months to one year. It is mainly to preserve the magnificent main entrance that is already closed over a year and a half. I had the opportunity to pass once and everyone awaits the reopening in order to find the sculptures and bas-reliefs.
This entry was made for the authorities of Kuelap. Today we use the entry number 3 located to the north, which was the entrance for goods and animals. It is narrower and it is not easy to get to cross several people at the same time when the site knows its peaks of assistance.
As expected, and apparently this should happen fairly quickly, the opening of the 3rd level of the citadel that was closed for more than 6 years due to the discovery of an Inca tomb.
You should know that it was very common to be alone during the visit of Kuelap until a year ago, a year and a half, today is no longer the case. They want, however limit the maximum capacity of the site to about 600 people. Well organized, this should be done without worry. We will see what will happen with the influx of visitors that will not cease to explode.
Another thing to know, the replica of the round house that was made in 1998 was demolished as planned. This is unfortunate and people are already wondering what happened. It is not planned to rebuild another Chachapoya house for now, at least inside the citadel. Especially some of the archaeologists have already made the request, to make another copy outside of the walls, so visitors can imagine how the houses of Kuelap were made.
I followed the construction of the cable car; I feared the noise that would make the continuous circulation of the cabins, towers and arches. The reality is that at Kuelap, including the place called El Torreon, you do not hear anything at all. Great!
A few words about the descent because it deserves it. For trekking lovers, you can walk up to Kuelap and get back down with the cable car. The tickets for the cable car can also be purchased at the top, La Malca. It will cost the same price as doing a round trip, which means 20 soles or 6 euros.
I am headed for the cable car boarding; apart from the staff, no one accompanies me. So I am alone in the cabin.
The descent is very impressive, with an incredible descent. You should not be claustrophobic or subject to vertigo, eh?
The photo gives us an idea of the angle of descent, you can see the expertise of the engineers once again.
On the ground floor you have to wait for the bus to take you to the embarkation station. But there are buses every 10 minutes. The waiting time will not be very long.
This week has been a bit special.
The official inauguration took place on March 2, 2017. The President and many local and national authorities were present.
Taking into account, the time saved on the Chachapoyas route, you can certainly organize different circuits. Visiting more in one day. Great!
The inauguration of the Cable Car Kuelap puts Amazonas, one of the poorest regions of Peru, on the tourist map. Local authorities and actors want this to happen in the best conditions and not get to a dead end like the well-known Machu Picchu. This is a very good thing that requires the will of everyone now.
Local tourism agents will have to offer more activities that involve more communities and people in the region. So that they also have the opportunity to benefit from this new wealth and show their traditions and skills.
Agencies that organize day-tours will have to be organized differently and quickly. This is based on different schedules. If everyone is currently sharing the same 8.30 am time in Chachapoyas, tomorrow they will have to avoid the chaos when buying the tickets.
No need to say that in the coming months the organization of tourism here in Chachapoyas and the Region will necessarily experiment significant changes.
The valley and the impressive mountains of Kuelap, seen from the boarding bus.
Northern Peru is more than ever THE destination to discover and visit.