Visit Kuelap, Chachapoyan fortress
It is no exaggeration to say that in terms of archaeological significance, Kuelap is on a par with Machu Picchu. However, tucked away as it is in a little-visited mountain realm, it receives a tiny fraction of the visitors, meaning that those that do come are often met with the increasingly rare feeling of having an extraordinary treasure all to themselves.
Leave the beaten track far behind to visit this remarkable site, quietly commanding a view from its mountain perch on the far edge of Andean civilisation. The complex contains around 400 circular stone houses, set across multiple levels and enclosed by a colossal wall – the largest stone structure in South America. Parts of the fortress are still thatched by a tangle of jungle plants, and bromeliads sneak between nooks in the stonework, all adding to the sense of stumbling upon an undiscovered ruin.
The recently inaugurated Kuelap cable car adds a new dimension to a visit to the site and is sure to increase visitor numbers to the region - a welcome boost to the local economy. The telecabinas cross the valley in just 20 minutes, which means the overall journey time is about 30 minutes shorter than when travelling by road and the magnificent views across the valley ensure a scenic start to your Kuelap experience.