Kuelap | Peru, 1996

d_5Distance:  7.5 miles (12 km)

Avg. Time:  5 hr return

Start / Finish :

  • Tingo 
  • The closest sizable town is Chachapoyas. There are regular buses that run between here and Tingo. The journey takes approximately 2 hours.
  • I arrived in Tingo by way of a memorable bus ride from another highland town by the name of Celendin. This journey made the infamous Camino del Muerte (road of death) in Bolivia seem like a jaunt on Germany’s Autobahn! Not sure if the road has improved much since 1996. Probably didn’t help that we travelled at night during a torrential downpour………..even the normally laid back locals were having kittens!

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Maps / Info :

  • No maps needed. From Tingo simply start ascending.
  • Perched on a ridge overlooking the Utcamba Valley some 3000 metres above sea level, the city fortress of Kuelap was built by the Chachapoyans between 600 and 1000 AD. It was inhabited until the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The massive structure is surrounded by stone walls which reach up to 19 metres in height. Within these walls there are more than 500 buildings, most of which are circular in design. See Kuelap.org for more information on this incredible site.

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Route / Conditions :

  • The trail climbs some 1200 m (3943 ft)  from the village of Tingo (1800 m) to the Kuelap (3000 m) archeological site. The path is easy to follow and for the most part the ascent is a gradual one. Be sure to bring rain gear, food and water.
  • Views along the trail are impressive, however, this is one hike in which the destination rather than the journey is the highlight.

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Sleeping :

  • Camping or indoor accommodation available just below the site.
  • Most people who visit Kuelap do so as a day trip from Chachapoyas. There is also accommodation options available in Tingo. That being said, you should consider staying close to the site……….Kuelap at dawn, dusk or by moonlight is an experience you will never forget! Chances are you will be the only one there.

Overview :

  • Over the years I have been fortunate to visit many of the world’s great archeological sites. Kuelap is one of my all time favourites. My friend Sylvia and I pretty much had the site to ourselves during our three day stay.

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