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.
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.
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.”
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.