Chachapoyas – Amazonas

The city of Chachapoyas is the capital of the Amazonas Region. The Incas conquered their civilization shortly before the arrival of the Spanish in Peru. When the Spanish arrived in Peru in the 16th century, the Chachapoyas were one of the many nations ruled by the Inca Empire. Their incorporation into the Inca Empire had not been easy, due to their constant resistance to the Inca troops.

Since the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors were the principal sources of information on the Chachapoyas, unbiased first-hand knowledge of the Chachapoyas remains scarce.

The name Chachapoya is in fact the name that was given to this culture by the Inca. The meaning of the word Chachapoyas may have been derived from sacha-p-collas, the equivalent of “colla people who live in the woods” (sacha = wild p = of the colla = nation in which Aymara is spoken).


Gocta Waterfall

Has been known for centuries to the local residents in Pru’s province of Chachapoyas in Amazonas, which is approximately 700 kilometers to the north-east of Lima. This colonies of endemic yellow-tailed monkeys (that exists only in northern eastern Peru) and unique bird species not normally found at this altitude or anywhere else. The northern and more tropical circuit of Peru has more species of birds than all North America and Europe combined. Located at a fairly high altitude beside the equator, every day has perfect semi-tropical temperatures. Serious ecological tourists prefer Ecuador to southern Peru, and our Dept. of Amazonas shares this spectacular ecology, but with even more zest!.

GoctaIts existence was made public following an expedition in 2005 by German Stefan Ziemendorff with a group of Peruvian explorers. At the time of his discovery he successfully persuaded the Peruvian government to map the falls and to measure their height. On 11 March 2006, following his third expedition to the falls, he held a press conference, the contents of which were published by several of the world’s wire services. He stated that the total height was accurately measured at 771 meters (2,532 feet), based on outdated and incomplete information gleaned from the National Geographic Society, which ranked Gocta as the third tallest free-leaping waterfall in world after Angel Falls in Venezuela and Tugela Falls in South Africa.


Sarcophagus of Karajia are precariously located on a mountain cliff at about 2600m. It is an spectacular funerary site down the road about a mile and a quarter. Here we will find 2 meter anthropomorphic wooden coffins located under a cliff. Mummies were placed inside each coffin. It is easy to get the area requires a walk, the Chachapoyas buried their dead in capsule-like tombs constructed of straw clay and mud also using bamboo to make the shape of the body, known locally as purunmachus (from the Quechua, purun wild and machu, old), Here six- sarcophagus remain looking west, down toward the valley below, where the river runs, all six of them with three skulls, two above them, ome one on the cliff floor, beside them.

The purunmachus were constructed by first the body decorated with painted relief designs, directly on a ledge around the funerary bundle, covering the bundle that rests in a fetus position in the center of these hollow statues, and long bamboos inserted into the construction to give the shape of the body. Next, the capsule was covered in mud mixed with straw and painted white or cream. Finally, details such as necklaces or pectorals, feathered tunics, facial traits or face paint and genitals were added in shades of yellow ocre and two shades of red, probably an ochre and hematite for the darker red.


Remained ignored by the outside world until 1843, when Juan Crisóstomo Nieto, a Chachapoyas judge, made a survey of the area and took note of Kuelap’s great size, guided by villagers who had known of the site for generations.

Kuelap earned the attention of explorers, historians and archaeologists.

The ruins of Kuelap are located at the summit of a hill that rises on the left bank of the Utcubamba.

Access to Kuelap is gained through El Tingo, a town at approximately 1800m altitude near the bank of the Utcubamba. A horse trail also winds along the left bank of Tingo river and leads eventually up to Marcapampa, a small plain near the site.

Levels of Kuelap

There are multiple levels or platforms within the complex. Because of its extension, these flat elevations support about 400 constructions, most of them cylindrical. From them, only bases remain. There are three structures that stand out from the hundreds of others within the complex:

KuelapEl Tintero, it is placed in the south end of the biggest anden and it is characterized for being a circular turret in the shape of an inverted cone, a real challenge to the laws of gravity.

La Atalaya, it is also shaped by a turret, and it is located in the north end of Kuelap.

El Castillo, it is a construction that is located in the most conspicuous sector of Kuelap and it stands out on the top anden. The first level is accessed by three portals, two located on the east or principal frontage; and the third one placed on the west.

The best preserved portal and probably the principal one, is located in the south side of the frontispiece. It is 3 m wide at its base and is flanked by high walls, resembling an alleyway. Archaeologists excavated the gateway in 2005/2006 and uncovered a tomb and various designs carved into the blockwork including snakes and heads.

There are other aspects which merit consideration: the colossal construction of Kuelap and the engineering required to provide a sophisticated system of rainwater drainage. After the big platform is being dilated this way, the wall stones that provide part of the structure are becoming detached. It has not also been clarified how the water supply was carried out; perhaps some of the enclosures that lacked access have served as places where water was reserved.

The function that Kuelap had, there is not also a completely satisfactory response. Popularly it is qualified as “fortress”, because of its place and high walls that support its primary level. Adolf Bandelier and especially Louis Langlois tried to demonstrate that Kuelap, was more than a fortress, it might have been a fortified place destined to serve as refuge to the population in emergency situations.

The high walls that veneered the platform and the tightness of the access to the citadel in its final stretch, suggest in effect, that the monument of Kuelap could be constructed for offering a defensive character, or at least, it should have been a place that was protected against intruders. it can be concluded that Kuelap could be basically a pre-inca sanctuary.

Lake of the Condors

Were found by accident on the banks of a lagoon known as “Laguna de las Momias” (Mummies’ lagoon), located in an inaccessible and uninhabited place of the district of Leimebamba in the province of Chachapoyas. The first exploratory expedition integrated by archaeologists was directed by Federico Kauffmann Doig, in May-June, 1997. Five mausoleums, that were protected by a cave that presents rock paintings, were replete with funeral bundles, objects of ceramics, quipus, etc., attributable to the Chachapoyas culture.

The graves begun to be plundered by stockbreeders who sighted them when they were walking around the area of the lagoon. When they realized that the mummies were not presenting any jewelry nor any other adornments of precious metals desisted from pillaging them; this way, about thirty funeral bundles have been saved from the plundering. Such discovery would allow the archaeologists to continue their works to establish new bases of knowledge.

This is a cloud forest area in the Peruvian Andes, 10/12 hours from Leymebamba town. Earlier this century this zone, extending past the last Chachapoyan ruins of Gran Pajaten, was 15,000 sq. km. of unexplored Andes. In this unknown area, 219 well preserved mummies were discovered and shown by the Discovery Channel in October 1998. This is our most rigorous trip as it follows an Inca trail, and not a major Inca road. This site is located on a cliff above a huge alpine lake. In the rainy season this is behind a waterfall from the cliff above. This appears to be a very sacred site where dead leaders were mummified and brought here from far away. In Leymebamba we will see these mummies and a large treasure of artifacts in the museum donated by the Austrians.

The Department Amazonas, situated in the northeast of Peru, in the region of the so-called cloud forest, which is characterized on the one hand by the influence of the cool Altiplano and on the other hand by the exuberant vegetation of the rain forest. In 2000, the population of the Department Amazonas amounted to approximately 407,000 inhabitants.

The moderate to cool climate is characterized by high amounts of precipitation throughout the year, whereas a rainy season (from December to April) is distinguished. The capital of the Department Chachapoyas (1999: 50,000 inhabitants) is located at a distance of 85 km from Leymebamba.


Located in the river valley of a feeder of the Amazon River -the Utcubamba River covers a surface of 373km2. The district Leymebamba -Comunidad Campesina (2,238 meters above sea level) has nine small, partially very remotely scattered settlements (anexos) of the village Leymebamba: Atuén, Joya, Plazapampa, Dos de Mayo, Palmira, Ishpingo, Aumuch, Valle de los Chilchos und Chilingote.


Funerary complex is located in Peru’s, approximately 60 km to the south of Chachapoyas. At an altitude of 2,800 m above sea level, the funeral buildings are located in the calcareous rock formation of Cerro Carbón, located in the margin left side of the vale of Alto Utcubamba.


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