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Chachapoyas is often described as Peru’s ‘best kept secret’. A blanket of forest unravels from the western coastline all the way to the slopes of the Andes in the east. The mist-shrouded mountain range guards the secrets of the cloud warrior civilisations that predated the Incas. Today, the landscape is embellished with relics that share the powers of the pre-Columbian past with those who venture far enough to experience it.
Stay near the small town of Cocachimba, overlooking the plummeting flow of Gocta Waterfall. This is one of the world’s largest waterfalls, and it’s modesty is part of its charm. Trekking in this sub-tropical setting is joined by tickles of bromeliads and ferns, and frequent purring sounds of the humming bird’s wings.
Journey southwest of Chachapoyas to discover the walled ruins of Kuelap. Positioned in the clouds, at over 3000 meters above sea level, this fortress dates back to the 7th century. The four-hundred circular buildings have panoramic views of the Utcubamba Valley giving visitors a snapshot into the defence strategies of the Cloud Warriors against the mighty Incas.
Though the Incas hoped to entirely wipe out the Chachapoyas people, today their legacy remains strong in the traces of indigenous communities that live in modern Chachapoyas. The Leymebamba Museum is home to over two hundred Chachapoya mummies retrieved from a cliff-top overlooking the Laguna de los Condores. Communities continue to revive history, and reconnect with the roots of this incredibly beautiful valley.
Chachapoyas is located in the northern Peru highlands, at the meeting place of the Andes and the Amazon. Rain can be frequent throughout the year due to its subtropical climate, and the best time to visit is therefore during the dry season from April to October. Clear skies at this time of year mean that the evenings have a crisp chill, so make sure to bring cozy layers for evenings.