Chachapoyas: Edge of jungle full of hidden gems

Chachapoyas is a small town in Amazonas also known for being a “ceja de la selva” which means an eyebrow/edge of the jungle. The town itself is very small, simple and very safe. It is not very well known among tourists so you can enjoy real local and peaceful atmosphere. Apart from Plaza de Armas, there is one street for pedestrians with historical buildings. Accommodation and food is mostly provided by simple hostels and restaurants but the tourism is developing and you can already find some nice places to eat.

Surroundings of the city provide endless possibilities: archaeological sites where you can admire chachapoyas culture, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, caves, lakes. All of those gems are surrounded by jungle plants playing with all shades of green you can imagine.

How to get there:

  • The only official bus company that goes to Chachapoyas is Movil Tours (the bus ride takes around 10 hours from Chiclayo, 14 hrs from Trujillo, 24 hours from Lima)
  • There is also an option to arrive from Cajamarca, there are many local companies that go during the night – the best one is Virgen del Carmen and one way ticket is 45 soles. (10 hours ride)
  • The last option is flying directly from Lima

What places to visit:

(all the places are accesible with a tour agency or on your own – local buses always go from bus terminal terrestre – 10 mins of walk from Main Square)

  • Kuelap – city of Chachapoya culture that was conquered by Incas and then abandoded. It’s the largest ancient stone structure of South America. It is said that Kuelap Is a Machu Picchu of North but I would say each of the places has different characteristics. Kuelap is almost 3000 m high, the atmosphere of the place is very different – Kuelap is on the top of the mountain, houses are basically in nature – trees and orchids are growing all around.
    • You can visit Kuelap with a tour (around 80 soles – tour includes bus ride, cable car, entrance to Kuelap and a tourguide)
    • You can also take a colectivo from Chachapoyas and do everything on your own (the cost will be approximately 40 soles)
  • Gocta – the third highest waterfall in the world is a must. Hike lasts arund 2,5 hours to get to the first fall and around 1,5 hours to get back. The views on the way to the waterfall are wonderful – valley, surrounding mountains, different types of plants including coffee and huge plants typical for jungle. The actual waterfall is surrounded by small waterfalls and you can take a bath right under the biggest one. Getting there is a big tricky cause al the rocks are very slippery and then when you finally get there, water is incredibly freezing. But it’s totally worth it, cause the views are reminding scenes from Avatar.
    • You can go with a tour for around 50 soles (in that case make sure before if they go to only one of the falls or both of them, the thing is that if you go with a group you leave later and you probably won’t have enough time to see both falls)
    • Another option is to go to San Pablo or to Cocechibamba by a local bus and do the trekking by yourself. The route is well marked – so it’s a safe choice. (bus is around 7 soles one way and entrance to Gocta park 15 soles.
  • Canyon Sonche
    • canyon reminds a bit of Colca canyon, it is pretty deep – 970 m and accessible by foot (7km from the city) / taxi – 20 soles / a bus – 3 soles. Ask for direction to Huancas – a small village right next to one of the viewpoints.
    • We got there by taxi and walked back, which was great cause we enjoyed wonderful views
    • The canyon itself has two viewpoints and you can walk around one side of the canyon – however there is no way down. So visiting the canyon takes approximately half day
  • Jumbilla Waterfall
    • Another smaller waterfall accessible by local transportation – just take a local bus from terrestre to a village Pedro Ruiz
  • Rafting + Zip lining
    • 70 soles with a tour agency
  • Laguna de Condores
    • 3 days, 2 nights trek
    • We didn’t have time to go but the pictures lok amazing and we have great references for the place too
  • Caves – there are several caves such as: Caverna de Quiocta
  • Sarcófagos de karajía
    • Actual tombs used by chachapoya culture that were incorporated into the big wall in mountain
  • Clifftop tombs of Revash
    • Mausoleums were built by chachapoya culture as massive tombs for probably more powerful people
    • it is said they were constructed in the the wall as a protection form rain

Where to stay:

  • We stayed in El Tambo Hostel – half block from main square. It was affordable and clean hotel. They have private rooms and dorms. We came during the high season and got a room right next to reception which was a bit annoying cause of the noise early in the morning but otherwise I would recommend it.

Where to eat:

  • Café Fusiones – that’s a must! Service is great, it’s spacious and very nicely decorated and the most importantly – the food is delicious. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast menu includes choices of typical Peruvian breakfast or European style breakfast with juice and amazing organic coffee for 12 soles.
  • Local market – for snacks

Food to try:

  • Local yoghurt (lucuma)
  • Fresh cheese
  • Picarones con queso
  • Quinoa with meat

Where to hang out in the evening:

  • Licores la Reina – it´s a bar with a nice outdoor and indoor sitting. You can find herebeers and typical herbal liquors. One of the specialities is “Arco Iris” which is 12 shots of local herbal liquors for 20 soles. Most of them are sweet and some remind of a syrup against cough haha 😀

I hope that I´ve persuaded you to visit this amazing place.

Carpe Diem

Klara Exploradora

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