Kuelap: the icon of the Chachapoyas culture

Today I start a series of nine posts that I will publish every other day about one of the least studied pre-Inca cultures as well as a remote Peruvian region: the Chachapoyas. According to the Father Blas Valera, and one of the 16th century chroniclers, Chachapuya means “lugar de varones fuertes” or land of exceptionally strong men.

“Los Chachapuyas respondieron que ellos estaban apercibidos para las armas y para morir en la libertad; que el Inca hiciese lo que quisiese, que ellos no querian ser sus vasallos”.
Comentarios Reales de los Incas by the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

Nowadays, the icon of these peoples is Kuelap, a spectacular walled archaeological citadel situated on a mountaintop southeast of Chachapoyas, capital of the department of Amazonas in the Andes Amazónicos (Amazon Andes).

It seems to have been a fortress since it is entirely surrounded by a massive defensive wall.

This wall varies in height between six and 20 metres.

This wall has only three entrances. The main one leads you into an impressive passageway.

This passageway has the shape of a funnel…

…and the walls are very high.

Thus, defenders on top would repulse attackers easily in case the latter would attempt to scale these walls.

Inside of this site are about 420 buildings…

…almost all of them are round.

A small house has been reconstructed:

The stonework is embellished with patterns such as geometric friezes…

…and designs:

The way back is down there (4 or 5 hour hike).

The Chachapoyas culture spread from 700 to 1500 A.D. Even though they fought with braveness, they were eventually conquered by the Inca Huayna Capac.

You can read the story of my trip around the Chachapoyas region here. These people took much care of their death as I will tell you in my next post.

Related posts


Chachapoyas mausoleums

Yerbabuena market


About Peru En RoUte

Natural-born backpack traveller around Peru
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6 Responses to Kuelap: the icon of the Chachapoyas culture

  1. I will, thank you!

  2. From Chachapoyas you can take a bus to a village whose name i do not remember now. From this village you have to walk about half an hour to Kuelap.
    On the contrary, the way down to the town of Tingo lasts 4 or 5 hours.

  3. kristina says:

    Write more, your writing is very good.

  4. kristina says:

    I think it is possible to come closer by road now, so that it is only 1.5- 2 hours hike left to Kuelap.

  5. Actually, it is more of your own photos on the next posts.
    By the way, would you like to add anything about your own experience in Kuelap that could help other travellers, Kristi?

  6. kristina says:

    It is very interesting, go on writing. Cant wait your 9 following articles about the North of Peru 🙂

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