Our Adventure to Kuélap

Yesterday we consolidated our stuff into one suitcase, checked out of our hotel, left our second suitcase with the people at the hotel and caught a collectivo (essentially a shared van) towards the ruins at Kuélap 45 miles south of Chachapoyas. 

Kuélap is an immense pre Inca city built 1000 years before Machu Picchu. The ruins sit on a ridge at 10,000 feet. They have a commanding view in all directions. It’s about a three hour ride to get there and two thirds of the ride is on a narrow steep dirt road. 

When Duke was here in 1979 the road didn’t exist. He and another guy climbed up for five hours to get to the ruins and when they got there they were the only ones there, no tourists, no locals, no one!

We decided to break the trip up and spend the night at Choctamal Lodge about half way up the dirt road. We were the only ones staying there. We could see Kuélap in the distance. It at the top of the far ridge in this picture. 

These are pictures of the lodge and our room. 

We knew there was no food service at the lodge so we bought bread, cheese,  crackers and peanuts before we left Chachapoyas. We walked about 20 minutes down the road to a village and bought two bottles of beer. Then we sat an a blanket and had a picnic outside our room. 

This morning we had to wait a couple of hours but we finally got a ride the rest of the way up to the ruins. From the parking lot we walked up about a mile. 

The first thing you see is the walls. Fodor’s Peru says “the city of Kuélap is surrounded by a massive defensive wall ranging from 6 to 12 meters (20 to 39 feet) high.”

There are only three narrow entrances to the city. Here we are climbing up one entrance with our guide. 

Inside our guide showed us the different areas of the city and stressed that none of Kuélap has been reconstructed.

After walking back down to the parking lot we managed to get a ride with a tour going back to Chachapoyas. On the way there was discussion between the young man who was the guide in the van and some German tourists about whether the cable car they are building to allow visitors to avoid the long dirt road is a good thing. 

Now we are back in Chachapoyas at our hotel. We will decide our plan for tomorrow when we see if it is still raining in the morning. 

Author: marionvermazen

I am a traveler, hiker, avid reader, Sun alumnus, computer geek, Spanish and French language student, knitter and genealogist. I am retired after working for almost 30 years in the Computer Industry. I live in Reno, Nevada with my husband Duke.

7 thoughts on “Our Adventure to Kuélap”

  1. Are there any displays of art work, implements of daily life? Anything?
    How many people lived there? This inquiring mind wants to know…but doesn’t have time right now to even Google!
    This trip seems much more “off the cuff” than others. Are you enjoying it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pat, There weren’t any displays of artifacts but I understand they are planning to build a museum near here for that purpose. You are right this trip is more flexible than our last one. Duke made reservations for most of the trip before we left for Spain. This time he is making them as we go along so we can base our plans on how we feel and what we want to see. I’m having a great time!


  2. ¡Hola, Marion! Qué aventura más emocionante están viviendo. Me alegro mucho de que este viaje sea interesante para los dos, y estoy orgulloso de que estén disfrutando de los increíbles lugares de Latinoamérica.
    Feliciades por la decisión de viajar a un lugar desconocido y aprender más del mundo. Es muy inspirador. Un abrazo,

    José, tu profesor de español

    Liked by 1 person

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