Indiana Jones and the Fortress of Kuelap!
Trip Start Nov 04, 2010
83Trip End Aug 10, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Indiana Jones and the Fortress of Kuelap
The main attraction of this area is the Fortress of Kuelap. Built high up on a ridge at 3000M above sea level it's one of the most overwhelming pre-inca sites in Peru. Although only 30KM from the town of Chachapoyas, it takes 2.5 hours by car on a very bumpy, very dusty dirt road. We were in a group of 8 with a tour guide. As the guide passed around a piece of paper asking us to write our names we noticed the usual suspects; Asmel Epoo, Peter Pants, Sue Permann and a certain Dr I. Jones.....mmmmmmmmm, guess it helped pass the time!
As the bus crossed the Utcubamba river we saw the hilltop which is home to Kuelap. An impressive 'castle like' structure 600M in length and over 20M in height, Kuelap is a collosal construction even by today's standards and would have been a formidable fortress in itīs day. It has been calculated that 40 Million cubic feet of building material was used to create the fortress, three times more than the volume required for the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Occupied by the Chachapoyas from AD 600 until Inca conquest in the 15th century, the citadel was the most impenetrable of all Peruvian fortresses. It has an outer and inner wall with long narrow high walled entrances on an incline, meaning enemies could only attack in single file and would have been easily overpowered. As we spent the best part of three hours walking through the site, it didnīt take much imagination to picture what it would have been like to live inside the fortress. The area is surrounded by huge trees covered with bromeliads and orchids that add to the grandeur of the place. Although the site is overgrown with trees and subtropical vegetation we could still make out the various watch towers, homes and walkways acting as capillaries in this huge structure. Inside each of the homes we found two pits, one was for storing grains and other food substances, whilst the other, located about a metre away from the food store was for storing the mummified remains of the inhabitants' ancestors! Deceased ancestors were venerated and kept inside the house to safe guard against evil spirits. This is great in theory, but weīd hate to think how many times someone woke up in the middle of the night a little peckish and opened the wrong storage pit......ooops sorry Great Great Grandma!
Next stop : Zombie Armageddon, The Lost City of the Dead, Pueblos los Muertos & Karajia
A characteristic of the Chachapoyas region are the sarcofagi, elaborately moulded earthenware coffins found stashed on inaccessible overhangs and horizontal crevaces along sheer cliff faces. A good example of this is the site of Karajia where 5 sarcofagi have been placed on an inaccessable ledge close to a waterfall. The sarcofagi are 2M in height and have skulls placed next to them.
Later on the same day we travelled by taxi to Valle de Belen, a beautiful light green valley with a meandering river. The scene looked like something taken from a children's fairytale. Cows and horses roaming the valley, lush green grassy plain and best of all, no cars, buildings or other people in sight! Valle de Belen is the starting point for the trek into Gran Vilaya, otherwise known as the "Lost City of the Andes" - we hope to return to venture into this city of cloud forest and pre-inca sites in the future....