Chachapoyas in northern Peru is an ecologically diverse area of high mountains, cloud forests, deep canyons, raging rivers and jungle. The name Chachapoyas refers to the pre-Inca culture that dominated the region. The Chachapoyas People lived in stone cities on mountain ridges and the remains are there to be seen by visitors to the area. In fact the ruins are so numerous, the area is described as the richest archaeological zone in South America and possibly the world.
For travellers, Chachapoyas boasts impressive heritage sites and scenery to rival anything in southern Peru. Day hikers, trekkers, cavers, botanists and birders will find time too short to explore all the possibilities.
Chachapoyas city, at 2336m (7662ft) is a typical Andean town with a central plaza. Chachapoyas was founded in 1538. Today Chachapoyas is the capital of the department of Amazonas and a cosmopolitan city of about 20,000 people.
Kuelap lies at 3,000 meters above sea level and 5 km from the town of Tingo, and one hour from the bigger Chachapoyas town. Little is currently known of the Chachapoyas Culture (the Cloud Forest people): although it was one of the most advanced civilizations in the tropical jungle region of Peru. One of the most outstanding archaeological ruins remains of this culture, Kuelap, that was discovered by a local resident in 1843. Experts agree that the monumental aspects of Kuelap can only compare in size and grandeur to Machu Picchu, and it is also called “the other Machu Picchu”. Kuelap's construction is presumed to have taken at least 200 years to complete and millions of cubic feet of stone. This big construction was not known by the spanish conquistadors; Kuelap's strategic location between the Marañon and Utcubamba Rivers, both long tributaries of the Amazon River, protected it from being devastated.
Close to Chachapoyas you can also find Gocta, the third highest waterfall in the world.