This blog post also appears on the Academia Superior de Idiomas’ blog
I woke up feeling like we were about to fly of the mountain. The driver was going around 80 kmph going round really steep bends that were 7000ft high in the mountains. I pulled back my curtain to see where we were but we were in the clouds and visibility was low. That scared me even more because I knew the driver couldn’t see either and we were on a double decker bus which literally felt like it was about to fall sideways. We were on a 10 hour overnight bus ride to Chachapoyas. We had heard stories of how exhausting the treks we had planned to do were so we all knew we should try and get some sleep but my heart was pounding for the next two hours.
We reached our cute little Hostal Ñuñurco, just 4 blocks from the centre of town which was nestled in the majestic mountains. We began our 2 and a half hour drive to Kuelap, it was nerve-racking at times because of the narrow winding roads on the mountain edge and the inability to see oncoming traffic around the corners, but we made it.
Kuelap is a fortress 3000 metres above sea level which contains the ruins of more then 400 Chachapoya structures, some were homes and others were mass graves. The fortress walls also served as cemeteries where more then a 100 bodies were buried. Other pits contained animal and human bones which are thought to be sacrifices. One structure was an ancient compass…I know this because I sat on it thinking it was a pile of rocks and was immediately told to get up.
The panoramic views were beautiful and it was still a pretty quiet site not overwhelmed by tourists. It is known as the Machu Pichu of the South and is still relatively untouched. As recently as 2010 70 bodies were excavated and while we were there an investigation was going on into a new body which was discovered.
On the way back we stopped at a lady’s house who was cooking us lunch, we had the option to sample the local delicacy…guinea pig, I opted out as it looked like a rat on a plate but others in the group enjoyed it.
We went out that night to an artsy little bar called La Reina and slept for a few hours before our trek to Gocta, the 5th tallest waterfall in the world. I had never horse ridden before but as it was an option I thought it would be fun. I wasn’t really prepared for the lack of handles, the steep slopes and uphill climbs, nor the horse intrepidly walking along the cliff edge but I suppose it added to the fun. One member of our group got a crazy horse, she decided to get off and not a minute too late as he literally went buck-wild charging towards us neighing and bucking. I talked to my horse Pisco the whole way after that, telling him to be a good boy and to try not to throw me off his back and it worked because I made it back in one piece.
The waterfall was breathtaking, it really was beautiful and worth the 6km trail there.
If you’re in Peru, I would highly recommend a trip to Chachapoyas, I wish we had stayed longer to enjoy the town more. There’s a really cute restaurant called Terra Mia which had amazing waffle breakfasts and delicious freshly made sandwiches which we took for our hike. You can try the best Pollo a la Brasa (rotisserie chicken) for just 5 soles (£1) including fries, a salad and a juice located in the hostel Rumi Huasi. Their service was really fast which is unheard of in Peru and was perfect before we got our bus home.
Until the next adventure,