We have all heard of Indiana Jones, the fictional action hero known for his stylish adventures into the depths of all things unknown. Imagine with me for a moment, that instead of Dr. Jones visiting the darkest, most mysterious regions of the world in his search for ancient treasure, that he pulled out a tourist pamphlet filled with all the most popular local attractions, and started making his way down the list. Instead of the epic car chases down the side of a mountain, Indy would be standing in line waiting to get the perfect selfie at a local photo opp. Instead of a harrowing escape from an ancient crumbling temple, Indy would be in the back of a tour group with his hand raised to inquire about a local rock formation.
Indiana Jones was not made popular for living the life that those around him chose to live, instead, his search for ancient treasure always took him down the path less traveled. In this article we will follow in his footsteps as we explore the ancient ruins of Kuelap, a 1500 year old archaeological site that has only recently become easily accessible to the public, and where do we start our journey? In the town of Chachapoyas, located on the northern outskirts of the Peruvian Amazon.
Meaning “Cloud Forest”, in the Quechua language, these ancient inhabitants were known for their reputation as being fierce warriors, as well as the architectural wonders they left behind, some of which are just as awe inspiring as the popular Machu Picchu. Accessible by plane or bus, Chachapoyas is a popular departure point for those looking to explore this lesser visited region of Peru. If visiting the daily farmers market or spectating in the locals daily life is not the type of rush your looking for, explore the local countryside, and the wonders that lurk within.
Popular attractions in the area include:
- The Gocta Waterfalls – At over 2500ft high, this incredible attraction is sure to reward anyone willing to make the difficult 14mile journey through the Peruvian wilderness.
- The Sonche Canyon – A short 20min drive will have you staring out across a 2400ft deep canyon offering incredible views of this diverse region of Peru.
With so much to see and do in the area, it can be difficult to choose where to spend your time, and no destination is raved about more, than the local ruins of Kuelap. Often referred to as the Machu Picchu of the north, this ancient site is located at a higher altitude, and is larger in size than its famous cousin. What used to be a 2 month treacherous journey through the Peruvian wilderness, is now a 20minute ride via cable car, making this rarely known destination an up and coming favorite among adventure travelers.
As you enter the ancient site, take a step back in time and walk among the over 400 individual structures used by the ancient Cloud Warriors and the over 5000 people that once called this ancient fortress home.
While Machu Picchu receives thousands of visitors each day, making long lines where much of your day will be spent, the Kuelap ruins are a different story, and for the time being, will offer you a true taste of adventure where you can truly immerse yourself into the mysteries of the ancient people that once inhabited these lands. The ruins of Kuelap are a must see destination during your travels, and although you might initially get blank stares from those listening to your stories, once you break out the photos you are sure to have many questions needing a response.