08th September 2010

An overnight bus took us off the gringo trail to Chachapoyas in the highlands of Peru´s Amazonas Province.  Surrounding the delightful plaza are white balconied colonial buildings and dazzling white church.  Our Hostal Amazonas and associated tour agency was inside one of them, with a lovely central courtyard.  Outside of town, Señor Isove proudly shows off his orchids, collected from the surrounding area as a way of conservation.


We came to visit the ruins of Kuélap, a pre Inca fortified city of round stone dwellings at 3000 meters and a commanding view of the surrounding valleys.  It was built in the 6th century by a fierce cloud forest dwelling civilization, the Chachapoyas.  We found there was so much more to see, so we hiked up to an ancient burial site to the south, the Mausoleos de Revash, where important dead were laid to rest high up on the cliff face in natural crevices in the rock.


Further south, the little community Museum of Leymebamba contains 219 mummies and funeral offerings found recently (1997) near the Laguna de los Condores.  The mummies were wrapped in textile with a face sewn on the outside.  Opposite the Museum a lady feeds hummingbirds in her garden.


To the north of Chachapoyas we climbed to the Sarcofagos de Karajia where the mummies were carried up the cliff and a sarcophagus of clay and straw in human form was built around them.  They stand up to 2 metres high and weigh some 200 kilos each.  It is truly an eerie feeling to look up and see them all lined up along the cliff face.


It was well worth the trek down to El Pueblo de los Muertos, called the Village of the Dead for the many burial sites in the one area. Human bones, disturbed by grave robbers lie scattered around.


This remote area receives few visitors but has so much to offer and more is being discovered in very hard to reach places.


Chachapoyas Plaza

Many varieties of corn in the market

Hostal Amazonas

Kuélap fortress walls

Only one person can enter Kuélap at a time

Reconstructed dwelling inside the city - there were 400

Mausoleos de Revash

Mausoleos de Revash

Wrapped mummy from Laguna de los Condores

Mummies stored in the Leymebamba Museum

Sarcófagos de Karajia

Inca head tomb in the cliffs

The path to El Pueblo de los Muertos

Village of the Dead

Rock paintings indicate a burial site

Two faces look out in different directions

A group of three

Broken open by grave robbers

Bones scattered around

Local woman with child

Typical hat