The Kuelap Adventure
April 20th ~ April 26th
April 20th: Leave Iquitos for Tarapoto
April 26th: Return to Lima from Tarapoto
Many centuries ago there was a sophisticated society who built their homes high within the Andes where the clouds meet the sky... Lost and forgotten for many long ages, Kuelap was rediscovered and explored. The stories it yielded created many mysteries. The greatest mystery was an unanswered question about who these people were. This question is still being asked...
Below is the itinerary we have compiled. Getting to Kuelap is no longer a dangerous month's long journey into the heart of the Andes, But still, it takes more than the casual tourist cares for. If you're ready for one of the best adventures you will likely ever have you will embrace and completely enjoy this journey.
This trip will only be offered if we have no less than 10 passengers.
7 Days - $2,150
Trip begins in Tarapoto
International and Domestic Airfare Not Included
Day 1 - Iquitos to Tarapoto
The Adventure Begins!
Tarapoto is one of the most important cities of the San Martin department. There is an incredible beauty in this region. And of course, there are fantastic mysteries here!
Throughout this region of the eastern Andes, you find beautiful waterfalls, orchids, exotic butterflies, and a tropical environment. This is the region where the Amazon climbs up onto the Andes.
The Río Abiseo (declared a UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage site) and Cordillera Azul National Parks are sanctuaries for endangered species. Its lakes, like Lake Lindo and Lake Azul, have crystal-clear water, and there are towns and cities surrounded by vegetation, such as Lamas, Rioja, Moyobamba (Kathy and I lived here for awhile), and Tarapoto.
There are incredible archaeological sites spread throughout this region such as Kuelap and Gran Pajatén. This is the general area where Kathy and I lived and spent many months searching for lost cities. Yes, we know this area quite well.
The weather is hot and humid, with heavy rains between December and March. The maximum temperatures being between 34°C 93°F to 19°C 66°F.
In the afternoon, we visit the District of Shapaja, located in the north-west of the San Martin Region. Kathy and I have a very special treat for you. Be ready for your first serious jungle hike. It isn't really a difficult hike, but it will last for about 45 minutes to reach a hidden waterfall you're going to really love! Afterward, we continue on to Polish where Kathy and I show you the Petroglyphs of Polish. No one knows who created these or why... Well, not entirely true. You see, Kathy decyphered similar petroglyphs several years ago. That adventure led us to one of the most amazing discoveries we have ever had. The petroglyphs of Polish offer the same clues. We can tell you more while we're there.
After we finish we return to Tarapoto. It's time for dinner!
The Blue Lagoon
In the morning, we start our full day excursion to La Laguna Azul or Blue Lagoon, located 40 km from Tarapoto city. We will take the Marginal Sur road. In the place called Puerto Lopez, we cross the Huallaga River on a raft. After crossing we later arrive at the El Sauce district. There is a brief orientation before boarding a boat for an excursion in the lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon, whose watercolor varies between green and blue, is a 115' (35 meter) deep lake covering over 865 acres (350 hectares). The temperature of its waters varies between 77°F and 82°F. La Laguna Azul is a habitat for herons, kingfishers, sachapatos, eagles, and many types of amphibian, reptile, and fish. The lake is surrounded by fruit trees, corn, beans, plantain, yucca and rice plantations, as well as grassy meadows and jungle.
Around noon we continue on to Angaiza Farm where we can go horseback riding, enjoy a swim in the river, or just relax and enjoy lunch. We return to Tarapoto later in the afternoon.
Ahuashiyacu Falls and The City of Lamas
After breakfast, we travel to the Ahuashiyacu waterfall, 9 miles northwest of Tarapoto. The Ahuashiyacu waterfall is 131' high and located on La Escalera Mountain (1,526'). The water flows over a mountain covered by thick ferns, and orchids hanging high within ancient jungle foliage. This is a perfect example of jungle diversity as it has been for thousands of years. Everywhere you look or step you'll find a wide variety of butterflies, birds, and insects. Yes, this is amazing and beautiful...
Once we arrive and wander through this area we take time to swim in the pure, refreshing, and crystalline waters.
Lunch will be available at a nearby restaurant. This isn't Denny's : ) You can expect to sample traditional food and beverages typical for the jungle.
After lunch, we continue on to the jungle city of Lamas. Founded in 1656, this is one of the oldest towns in the Peruvian jungle. Lamas is located at the summit of a hill (3,281'), Remaining as it has been for hundreds of years, the streets are steep and terraced.
It is said that the first level was for the Chankas from the south (a tribal group considered enemies of the Inca), the second for the Mestizos (a mixed race of Spanish and indigenous), and the third level was used as a viewing point. Divisions between the Indians, residents of the town of Lamas and mestizos remain today, with each group celebrating their patron festivals separately. Despite being in the jungle, the structure of their houses is likened to those found in the mountains, due to the origin of its inhabitants. The Wayku neighborhood is inhabited by descendants of the Chanka braves, who still maintain their ancestral traditions.
This is an interesting place to explore as you visit with the local population, perhaps pick-up a souvenir, and immerse yourself into a setting from ancient times. There are many stories here whispered from the nearby jungle.
We return to Tarapoto in the afternoon.
Overland from Tarapoto to Chachapoyas
Today is a long travel day through the heart of northern Peru. We are headed to Kuelap via the Marginal de la Selva road. There are several very interesting places Kathy and I want to show you, including the small town we once lived in, Moyobamba. As we continue there will be several stops including one for lunch.
After approximately 8 hours we arrive at our destination. Chachapoyas, the capital of Amazonas is located in the mountainous northeast area of Peru. This region is usually referred to as the "Eyebrow of the Jungle" because of the perpetual line of clouds constantly being in place. You're about to see places few have entered... The greatest mysteries of the past are hidden away here beneath lush tropical forests clinging to severe angular mountains.
The areas we travel through today were the cradle of the Chachapoyas culture. Who they were is well known... But where they came from remains a great mystery that Kathy and I have investigated for many years.
Upon arrival, we check into our hotel. Afterward, we can explore the area on foot, enjoy a nice dinner, and relax after a long day of travel and adventure through the heart of the Andes.
The Lost City of Kuelap
In the morning we depart to the Citadel of Kuelap (located 45 miles southwest of Chachapoyas). Kuelap is vastly older than Machu Picchu and much larger.
One remarkable feature Kathy and I noticed years ago while visiting (before it was open to the public) is that Kuelap, from a distance, looks much like the top of a very high mountain! It seemed to us the mountaintop had been leveled or altered and this massive fortress built up in its place. This is remarkable when you consider Kuelap sits at 10,000' elevation and is one of the largest stone structure on Earth! In fact, there are 3 times the stones used to build Kuelap vs the Great Pyramid.
Who were the Chachapoyas? Kathy and I will tell you what we have learned once we arrive.
Our destination from Chachapoyas is El Tingo, located on the side of the mountain where Kuelap is located. Once there we will board the new cable car that transports us to the place called La Malca just below Kuelap. From here we begin a short walk to the Kuelap Fortress (apx. 10,000" elevation).
The entire citadel is surrounded by a long wall with a perimeter of 6,240 feet in length. There are three entrances, two on the east side and one on the west. The entrances have unique and interesting features, becoming increasingly narrow further into the citadel until there is only room for one person at a time. There are two clearly defined levels inside the citadel. The first is known as Pueblo Bajo (Low Town) and contains important buildings, including the Tintero (ceremonial building), and sections decorated with rhomboid and zigzagged lines. The second level, Pueblo Alto (High Town), features the Castillo ceremonial platform and the Torreon Norte fortress, which is apx. 2,000 feet long by 360 feet wide. Kuelap has an elliptical shape from North to South.
We spend the day exploring this site. Later, we return to our transportation via the cable car, then return to our lodgings in Chachapoyas.
Return to Tarapoto
We leave in the morning to return to Tarapoto. As before, this is a long drive back. That said, there are a few places we want to show you as we make our way back.
Tarapoto to Lima
Today, we return to Lima and then on home.