When we travelled 15 years ago to the North of Peru, the infrastructure was very very basic, with almost no hotels or hostels and with roads that were unpaved, narrow, steep and curvy, making any day trip long and very adventurous. The destination was a truly off the beaten path and certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Going back there now, Chachapoyas has not lost any of its authenticity nor the feeling of being an explorer, but the infrastructure has hugely improved. There is a new road connecting Chachapoyas to Leymebamba, following the river, all paved, making the access so much easier and shorter. We also travelled on the cable car to Kuelap, turning a 3-hour one-way drive into a fun and easy 20-min cable ride. It is a truly fantastic experience.
Our favorites of this trip:
- Of course visiting Kuelap, the mighty fortress of the cloud people.
- Hiking to the Gocta waterfalls: an amazing hike, you have to be somewhat fit, as you will have to hike up and down. Go early to spot the red ‘cock of the rock’ bird.
- Meeting Clotilde: a 70-year-old lady, making ceramics the way her mother taught her and how the mothers in her bloodline have been making these for hundreds of years.
- Karajilla: while we did take the wrong road, we had a beautiful hike to the sarcophagi of Karajilla. You keep wondering, how have they been able to place these statues so high up in the cliffs.
- Leymebamba: a small but unique museum, sharing the story of the discovery and rescue of 200 mummies found at Laguna de los Condores.
- Eating at Tayta: I have seldom seen a menu in Latin America where I actually don’t recognize any of the food. Great for an amazing authentic food experience.
- Staying at Hacienda Achamaki, a wonderful old hacienda style hotel, very relaxing, great location, good food, and friendly staff.
- Tarapoto: Cordillera Escalante – very close by Tarapoto city, but in the middle of nature with a beautiful river and an amazing hike to a waterfall.