From the lush greenery fed from towering waterfalls to the flight of multicolored macaws and parakeets taking off from the cloud forest floor, the Amazonas is a nature lover’s dream. Turn an eye to the sky at Lagoon of the Condors to see one of the namesake birds of prey flying above the Chachapoyas settlement. Marvel at the detail of Kuélap Fortress, an archaeological complex with hundreds of buildings, and applaud the impressive ancient tombs at Sarcophagi of Karajia and Revash’s mausoleums, which have stood the test of time. Stand in the splash of Gocta Waterfall, one of the highest waterfalls in the world. Accessible for families and well suited for soft adventure, this region of northern Peru offers a balance of outdoor activity, cultural immersion, and historical admiration.
ARRIVE LIMA, PERU
AdventureWeek begins with our arrival and reception at the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru. We gather together for a welcome dinner at the Ramada Costa del Sol Airport hotel at 8:30pm. During dinner, PROMPERÚ, with the support of VIPAC AND APTAE, takes the opportunity to review the program and update us with any last minute details regarding the itinerary for the week.
LIMA / JAEN / CHACHAPOYAS
Be ready to go at 4:00 a.m. to catch our flight to Jaén, the capital of the Jaén Province in the Cajamarca Region, the gateway to our adventure in Amazonas. Upon arrival, we stop for breakfast at Urqu Hotel before visiting the local Jaén museum, “Hermógenes Mejía Solf.” Here the archaeological remains of a 6,000-year-old culture is evidence of an ancient Amazonian civilization. For those interested in learning more about the region’s coffee, enjoy a coffee tasting at Cafeteria Urcu. Afterwards, we continue to Chachapoyas (2,335 m /7,661 ft above sea level), our home base for the next four nights. En route we stop for lunch at Maray Restaurant. The drive is very scenic as we climb from Jaén at 771 meters above sea level (2,530 feet) to 2,335 meters above sea level (7,661 feet) at Chachapoyas.
Chachapoyas, located in the mountains far from the Peruvian coast in the transition zone between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Oriental, is the capital of the Amazonas Region, and has a population of approximately 20,280 people. It was founded on September 5, 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Alonso de Alvarado. Local agriculture includes sugar cane, orchid and coffee growing. Due to very limited direct airline service, Chachapoyas remains fairly isolated from other regions of Peru.
Flight Lima to Jaén (LA2298 depart 5:47am/arrive 7:29am); Driving Jaén to Chachapoyas: 200 km, ~4 hours.
MAUSOLEUMS of REVASH AND MUSEUM OF LEYMEBAMBA
After an early breakfast, we drive for ~ 2 hours to the town of San Bartolo. From here, we walk along stone paved and dirt path to ~1.5 km/1 miles to the Mausoleums of Revash built high into limestone cliffs at an altitude of 2,800 m (9,182 ft) above sea level. These tombs, constructed of rock and adobe, plastered and painted pink and cream, look like little houses. Some are up to three floors high, and others have gabled roofs with T-shaped, cross-shaped and square windows. We observe these 14th century tombs from a strategic point to fully appreciate this funerary complex. Much research remains to be done to fully understand the people who constructed these mysterious mausoleums.
After our visit, we drive for 1.15hr to Leymebamba, a prime spot for birding. We have lunch at the lovely Kentitambo, located on a hill overlooking the Museo Leymebamba. Museo Leymebamba’s design reflects local architectural traditions, with regional building techniques and materials used in its construction. Gardens filled with native flora surround the museum and an orchid garden displays more than 100 native orchid species.The museum holds a valuable collection of 240 mummies found in the Lagoon of the Condors in 1997 and an ethnographic hall presents the varied lifestyles of the region’s modern inhabitants. We return to Chachapoyas (~ 2 hours) for dinner in town at town at Batan del Tayta Restaurant and overnight.
Total driving time: ~6.5 hours, 223 km; Walking: ~3 km/2 miles at Revash
KUELAP FORTRESS CABLE CAR AND HUANCAS POTTERY
Kuelap, a fortified city on a mountain top at over 3000 meters above sea level, is one of the most significant pre-Columbian ruins in all of South America.This majestic architectural site, built by the Chachapoyas, is only matched in importance by Machu Picchu. It is the least visited of Peru’s major archaeological sites but probably not for long.
On our way to Kuelap, we make a brief stop to see Macro Archaeological site, also known as “Macro Towers” for its characteristic design. Macro is located on the side of a hill overlooking Utcubamba river, unusual for Chachapoyas where sites are usually on a mountain top. We continue on to Nuevo Tingo town where we board a bus that takes us to the cable car station to access Kuelap. Once on board the modern cable cars, a short trip takes us to Kuelap, covering 4 km (2.5 miles) and rising 661 m (2,169 ft), up to an area near the Kuelap ruins which is built on top of the Cerro Barreta (3,000 masl). At first, it seems inaccessible since it is protected by colossal walls and cliffs on three of its four sides. It has three platforms, and inside they have circular buildings decorated with rhomboidal and zigzag friezes. Its complex interior architecture indicates it was a well-organized population group. The views from this craggy mountain top overlooking the Utcubamba River valley are superb. We will return to Nuevo Tingo town for lunch at restaurant Sabores de Utcubamba.
After lunch, we head back north to the town of Huancas, a community known for its pottery crafted by local women for centuries. Their craft has been officially recognized and named Cultural Heritage to the Nation of Peru in 2012. The pottery of Huancas is formed with a mixture of yellow clay, crushed stones and water. The ladies prepare it by hand and decorate it with reliefs and a red varnish that shows simple motifs such as cords and zigzags. The pottery is then made in an open fire place that is called “cusana.”
The women produce a large variety of pots for various chores such as cooking, toasting the grains, keeping water or “chicha” and to serve drinks. They also prepare small flower vases, candle and perfume holders with decorations. All their objects are the contemporary witness of an ancient culture.
We return to Chachapoyas for dinner at Amazonika Restaurant and overnight.
Total Driving time: ~3.5 hours
GOCTA WATERFALL: COCACHIMBA’S TREASURE
The people living in isolated hamlets north of Chachapoyas knew that the surrounding cloud forests contained the tall Gocta Waterfall, but local legends prevented villagers from visiting or talking about it. It remained unknown to the outside world until 2005!
From Chachapoyas, we drive 1 hr approx. to the picturesque town of Cocachimba. Our most active day, we hike a dirt and stone path approximately 2.5 hours one way to the Gocta waterfall. Along the way, we witness the great diversity of flora and fauna in the cloud forest, full of orchids and bromeliads and where Cock-of-the-Rock, Spatuletail hummingbirds and yellow-tailed woolly monkeys might be seen. Our trail ends at the base of the lower falls. Gocta Waterfall, locally known as “La Chorrera”, is 771 meters (2,530 feet) high and it is considered among the highest waterfalls in the world.
We enjoy lunch at Hotel Gocta Lodge in Cocachimba before returning back to Chachapoyas.
Total driving time: ~2 hours; Hiking: 5 hours round trip on a mostly flat dirt and stone path.
CHACHAPOYAS / JAEN / LIMA
After breakfast, we depart from Chachapoyas to travel back to Jaén for our return flight to Lima. Once in Jaén we stop for lunch at Hotel Urqu before proceeding to the airport for check-in. Upon arrival in Lima, we proceed to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Driving time: ~4 hours; Flight LA2301 Departs Jaén at 17:15, arrives Lima at 6:34pm
We spend the morning at a local market, where today’s culinary experience begins. Accompanied by a local chef, we discover the main ingredients used in Peruvian cooking in its stands. Next, we take part in a participatory cooking lesson, learning from the chef as he demonstrates making Peruvian dishes. We don’t leave without eating what we prepared in class!
This afternoon there are two options to choose from – a biking tour or a walking tour of Lima. Lima, referred to as the city of Kings, was founded by Fernando Pizarro on the basis of Inca structure. It offers a stunning colonial heritage that is not to be missed. Lima boasts museums with great works of art, archaeological sites, beaches, a boardwalk, natural reserves, the thrill of adventure sports, exquisite cuisine, and nightlife gives Peru’s capital an authentic personality.
The biking tour begins at the Lima Bici office in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. On this 2.5 hour bike discover the hidden gems of Lima, learn about the street art and contemporary nightlife of the area. Our local guide brings the area to life. This tour covers the tourist and bohemian neighborhoods of Barranco and Miraflores with a magnificent view of the sea along the Malecón at an appropriate pace for all levels of aptitude and ability. We ride to important attractions such as the sculpture dedicated to love, “The Kiss”, sculpted by the Peruvian artist Victor Dolphin and in the Barranco district we walk over the “Bridge of Sighs.” We ride its beautiful streets to the central church, the main cultural center, and by parks, spotting street art by local and foreign artists as we go.
The walking tour takes us to the historic downtown of Lima, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, where we learn about learn the most distinguished architectural monuments. While on tour, our guide sharesPeruvian traditions and famous folklore tales to give us a better understanding of the Limeños intricate culture and idiosyncrasies. Anecdotes about Lima’s colorful personalities and famous times punctuate the tour. Along the way, we discover the Aliaga House, a former viceroyalty home offered by Francisco Pizarro to one of his captains (Jerónimo de Aliaga) after the foundation of the city. We may well bump into their heirs who still inhabit the house and enjoy a refreshment with them.
This evening, all together again, we visit one of the world’s top museums in the traditional district of Pueblo Libre. Founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle in 1926, the Larco Museum is located inside a vice-regal mansion built on a pre-Columbian pyramid of the 7th century. It houses the most complete pre-Hispanic collection of gold and silver artifacts as well pieces of erotic art. This invaluable collection of archaeological artifacts bears witness of five thousand years of Peruvian history.
Dinner tonight is Café del Museo restaurant.
After breakfast, we transfer to the venue of Marketplace which aims to connect attending buyers and media with local travel companies operating in Peru. The Marketplace takes place form 9:00am – 2:00pm. We gather again for dinner in the Barranco district, celebrating all we’ve learned and the new connections we’ve made during AdventureWeek Peru.
Depart Lima, Peru anytime.
Note on Amazonas Itinerary
This trip ascends to moderate altitudes, traveling between 2,335 meters/7,661 feet and 3,000m/9,845 feet above sea level for most of the trip. The highest altitude reached while touring is 3,000m/9,845 feet while at Kuelap Fortress ( ~ 2 hour long visit)
For most people, a moderate altitudes of 1524m -2438m/5,000 – 8,000 feet is safe, but many have temporary symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, and a few develop serious problems. Above 2538 meters/8,000 feet, the risks rise. It is imperative you understand the symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and the more severe forms of altitude illness, HAPE (High-altitude pulmonary edema) and HACE (High-altitude cerebral edema) so that you can self-monitor your reaction to while at altitude. Take the necessary precautions to prevent or alleviate symptoms of high altitude such as staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, and eating well. Be sure to share any symptoms with your guide.
The Golden Rules
If you feel unwell, you have altitude sickness until proven otherwise.
Do not ascend further if you have symptoms of altitude sickness.
If you are getting worse then descend immediately.
Chachapoyas and surrounding area has a mild climate. Throughout the year, the temperature typically varies from lows of 9°C to highs of 23°C and is rarely below 44°F or above 78°F. In April, expect most cloudy skies with a ~30% chance of rain. Lima’s daytime temperatures will be 20 to 25°C, with cool nights.
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