Chachapoyas is the capital of the Amazon region. It is located at 2 335 m above sea level; an altitude that does not require special acclimation.
It is a capital of human size, with about 40 000 inhabitants, a very nice historic center, wooden balconies, a colonial style and very safe streets.
During your visit in Chachapoyas, you will be able to appreciate without doubt its relaxed lifestyle… and local specialties!
But what are the places to see and things to do in Chachapoyas and its surroundings? We share our advice.
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The easiest way if you are already in town, is to sign up for day trips. They leave in the morning and return to Chachapoyas in the afternoon. I recommend for this type of daily service the Turismo Explorer agency.
Two years ago, we were alone in Kuelap, something incredible for such an exceptional site. By 2017, this is no longer the case. Even if the site does not match the crowds of Machu Picchu (yet), the attendance has increased greatly last year. The national announcement about the opening of the first cable car system in Peru that will take visitors to Kuelap in 20 minutes is no stranger to this growing interest.
The citadel of almost 7 hectares continues to exert a fascination in the visitor who discovers the Chachapoyas builders without equal. And the mystery persist: Fortress of Kuelap or political and religious capital?
Our complete article to discover the citadel of Kuelap
This is the main attraction of the Amazonas region. Its success has continued to grow since the publication of its height in 2005 by our friend, German explorer Stefan Ziemendorff. Our Indiana Schultz announced the discovery of the third highest cataract in the world (771 m).
There are two ways to get to Gocta: by San Pablo de Valera or Cocachimba. The first is less tourist, with the second entrance you get to the base of the fall. In both cases, you need at least 2 hours of walking one-way to get to Gocta.
Our complete article to discover the fall of Gocta
You find the magnificent Yumbilla (896m) in the community of Cuispes, a few kilometres from Pedro Ruiz, less tourist, as Gocta being the most visited.
These waterfalls are surrounded by a lush and primary rainforest that people until now have managed to conserve. The region is home to an incredible wildlife, with endemic species of birds, such as the extraordinary spatule tail hummingbird.
Our complete article to discover the fall of Yumbilla.
How to come to Amazonas and not visit the incredible sites, such as Karajia with its sarcophagi of 2,50m tall?
Re-discovered in 1985, we still know very little about these sarcophagi, their realization, the mummies that were inside. Only very high personalities of Chachapoya society had the honour of being buried in this type of sarcophagus.
Our complete article to discover the Sarcophagi of Karajia.
The cave may not look spectacular for some people; it has beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, but just as just beautiful or more beautiful than we have them in Europe or elsewhere. However, the scary side is walking with a battery lamp – because there is no light in the cave – which can attract some people looking forward to strong emotions.
Our complete article to discover the Cave of Quiocta
At an altitude of 2800 m are located the mausoleums of Revash, which date back more than 1 000 years. They are located in a cave on top of limestone rocks of Cerro carbon. The houses are almost intact, but unfortunately, the mummies that were inside were removed by man or were destroyed by rodents.
Our complete article to discover the Mausoleums of Revash
This is probably one of the most interesting museums in Peru. First, there is the story about the discovery of the collection it contains and its controversial rescue. Then you have to keep in mind the strong passion aroused by its construction: the owner are none other than the community of Leymebamba. Finally, it contains an extraordinary collection of more than 200 Chachapoyas or Chacha – Inca mummies.
Our complete article to discover the Museum of Leymebamba.
The farmers market is one block from the Main square of Chachapoyas. It is open every day of the week. Come and discover the fruits and vegetables of the region, but also local spices. And taste fresh fruit juices and regional dishes that are sold there.
Our complete article to discover the farmers market
Discover the history of pre – Incan civilizations by studying their crafts and traditional activities. You will find many in Amazonas.
Our complete article to discover the village of Huancas.
When you go to the waterfall of Gocta, you can (make a reservation in advance) participate in the elaboration of Chankaka. Brown sugar made with sugar cane. Hiking to Gocta, you can stop to help push the sugar cane sticks and then you can taste the delicious and energetic juice. On your way back, the people of Cocachimba already have cooked the juice for several hours, you only will need to pour the juice in the molds. And it’s done!
You don’t expect to find this canyon in the region: it measures almost 900 meters in its greatest depth! You can do horseback riding. If you want to take your time and enjoy the scenery, walk along the canyon to go from the viewpoint of Sonche to the viewpoint of Huanca Urco.
Once in the canyon of Sonche, you can have the opportunity to go and see the ladies potters of the village of Huancas which is nearby.
Those who want to observe as many birds as possible, trees or wild orchids; you will be pleased hiking through nature. People will accompany you from the communities of the region who know the roads and plants. So you can walk through the highlands, or along rivers with amazing waterfalls.
But you can also go hiking for 1 or 4 days, the combination of nature, preserved forests and the stunning landsacape. Among other things, you can go to the valley of Huaylla Belen, horse riding and sleep in hotels or a small accommodation in the heart of the Andes.
The trek to the lagoon of the Condors or lagoon of the mummies. Depart from Leymebamba, are 40 kilometres away, you can go by horse or walking, to discover in a different way the Chachapoya culture and the mausoleums where they found the mummies of Leymebamba’s museum. This hike is hard and only feasible in the dry season, a minimum of 3 days, 1 day to go, a day to be in the place, 1 day back.
The trek to Gran Vilaya. Will allow you to discover many archaeological sites – of course Gran Vilaya but also Kuelap – while enjoying the beautiful nature.
Our complete article to discover the lagoon of Huamanpata.
Nature is amazing in the region. For example, Amazonas has no less than 800 species of birds. Knowing that Peru contains 1800 totally. Incredible ! However, you can also see many butterflies, monkeys and spectacled bears. Add to this the nature diversity – from the beaches to the Amazonas rainforest – and you will be convinced to take a little time to enjoy this breath-taking natural environment.
The area around Chachapoyas has a lot to offer, as you can see above. Personally I would advise you to stay at least 4 days (excluding arrival and departure), but, of course, everything depends on the time you have.
To be 2 days in Chachapoyas is the minimum! Two days is the right time to visit Kuelap, the flagship site of the Amazonas region and do the journey to the waterfall of Gocta. Both excursions are done in one day. If you want to do the tour with a group, it is best to sleep in Chachapoyas, because the groups depart from here.
When you spend 4 days in Chachapoyas, you will have time to visit the most famous sites in the region. You will be impregnated with the history of the traditions of the Andes.
After having visited Kuelap and Gocta, you can also do a day of “History and Museum” discovering the Mausoleums of Revash and visiting the Museum of Leymebamba, the only museum in Peru, where you will be able to learn a bit more about the Chachapoyas. The fourth day you could do a tour around the awesome Sarcophagi of Karajia and the Caves of Quiocta.
If you stay a week, you can enjoy it: of course, you are going to do the excursions mentioned above, but you will have more time to travel at your own pace. Not on group tours, but keep going on your own (either by public transportation or by hiring a private driver and local guides on the place).
Sleep in the villages and meet the local people. Visit the workshop of the artist Miguel Huaman of Leymebamba and spend time with woman weavers to learn how to make beautiful Andean textiles.
Our complete article to discover the canyoning in the Amazonas region.
Day 7: Do a city tour around Chachapoyas. Then stroll around the city, take a tour in the local market, taste exotic and unknown fruits. Participate in a cooking class, with a Pisco Sour course. To end the day, spend the night in La Reina liquor store in good company and good music.
The company SAETA offers flights of less than 30 minutes to connect Tarapoto to Chachapoyas. This line has a nine-seat light aircraft.
Another option is to take a daily connecting flight with LATAM: Lima – Jaen. Are only 3 hours 30 by car to Chachapoyas, but nit less than 4 hours by private bus or collective.
Since May 2017 you have also direct flights with the compagnie ATSA Airlines, twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays flying Lima – Chachapoyas. Depending on the people, they fly with 19 or 50-seaters.
Chachapoyas is better accessible by bus. Several companies: Movil Tours or GH bus, for example, connect different cities each day to the capital of Amazonas
Night buses allow you to travel and arrive early to Chachapoyas in a good hour, and then be able to do the visit of the day.
If you want to drive yourself in Peru no problem. The rules of the circulation code are very similar to ours. To date, it is not possible to rent a car in Chachapoyas. For a rent, the nearest place is in Tarapoto, 360 km from Chachapoyas. On the coast, it is located in Chiclayo, this time 450 km from Chachapoyas.