The history of Chachapoyas goes back to the ancestral period (7.000 years b. C.) when the first settlers of the area left traces of their past in remains on rock. However, the most important legacy of the life in this territory was left by the Chachapoyas culture (13th century AD). The Chachapoyas culture were a population of combative and fierce spirit in the battle. They opposed violent resistance to the inca’s expansion but they were defeated by the inca Tupac Yupanqui.Its Spanish foundation dates from 1538, under the name of San Juan de la Frontera de los Chachapoyas. In 1544 the settlers decided to move from the settlement of the city to an area less rough and with better weather. During the Independence war, the settlers of Chachapoyas woke up their ancestral spirit of fight to join the liberator army. On June the 6th 1821 took place the Higos Urco Battle, a legendary confrontation where the courage of the Chachapoya’s culture defeated the realistic forces, leaving heroic names as Matiaza Rimachi, an indigenous brave woman when she was defending her ideals.Nowadays Chachapoyas, since it’s the oldest and most historic tradition city, is recognized as the Amazonian capital and the entrance door to the peruvian jungle. Its location between the mountains and the beginning of the jungle gives to the city a varied and pleasant climate. The name comes from the indigenous word “sachapuyos”, which means “men of the fog” due to the peculiar fog that dominates the area of the hill Puma Urco, close to the city.
Travel tips for Chachapoyas
-Bring light and at ease clothes, but also a coat.-You shoudn’t either forget the sunscreen, the repellent, sun glasses (to protect your eyes) and trekking shoes for the uneven roads.In Chachapoyas you will find taxis and mototaxis to go through the short distances of the city (distances are not very long). Those vehicles also go to the proximity cities, but they are expensive (specially for tourists). The taxis are expensive and they don’t have a really good service. If you are not too over-loaded, we suggest you go walking. To visit the main tourist areas you will have the option of contracting any tour by bus on the tour agencies close to the Plaza de Armas (If you like sport and adventure is better to get around by foot).-Its geography is uneven, fact not so favorable for tourism in rainy seasons, specially on the risky roads, since the vehicles can’t go across easily or they are exposed to accidents.-Try to buy safe tours (that have the cars in good condition) and ask about the most common natural risks as landslides, landslides of mud and rock, etc.-In spite of the risks, the rainy season is one of the best to appreciate the nature. If you have a raincoat and rubber boots you will enjoy it, provided that you avoid the risk areas (as riverbeds and highest areas).
Best time to visit Chachapoyas
-The best season to visit Chachapoyas is from May to November.-There are several important dates that are celebrated those days and you can participate in, as the Tourist Week of the Chachapoyas, beginning of June.
Climate in Chachapoyas
- Since it’s located between the mountains and the beginning of the jungle, the climate is mild, cold and warm, with a maximum average temperature of 23 ºC (68 ºF) and a minimum of 13 ºC (51 ºF).-The rainy season goes from December to April. If you travel in this period, don’t you forget a raincoat.
Things to do in Chachapoyas
Chachapoyas is an Amazonian city located in the North-East of Peru, close to the Utcubamba river. Chachapoyas history is full of events, because it was the crib of the Chachapoyas culture, which was dominated by the incas during the pre-Hispanic period. It was during the colonization period that where built a lot of monuments and buildings that still exist nowadays and are part of the architectural appeal of the city. It's one of the oldest cities of Peru and also one of the first to be transformed in a capital of department, after the Independence wars. Inside the city you will have the chance of visiting the Plaza de Armas, which colonial charm transcends the time barriers through the mansions that surround it. There is also the Pozo de Yanacu (a well), whose waters have the power of making fall in love of Chachapoyas beauty to everyone that drinks them. Another places to visit on the outskirts of the city is the archaeological remains of Yalapé and the Cóndores lagoon.
Nightlife in Chachapoyas
Licores La Reina
Location: Jr. Ayacucho 520 Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. A traditional place with classic and friendly aspect. There you will find all the variety of Amazonian drinks at a good rate, discovering the most exotic flavors of drinks as the chuchuhuasi or the maracuya liquor.
Discoteca Los Troncos
Location: Jr. Dos de Mayo 551
Discoteca Llulla Yacu
Location: Jr. Bolivar
Where to eat in Chachapoyas?
La Real Cecina
Location: Hermosura 676 Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Price: s/ 10 on average As the name describes it, it’s the place where is prepared the best cecina in varied dishes and combinations. You will also find other plates typical of the amazonian cooking, but they are specialized in plates with cecina. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is welcoming and classic, since it’s located inside a beautiful mansion; the staff service is something to stand out. If you are a gastronomy adventurous ask the arroz chaufa con cecina, a delicious dish of recent creation.
El Batan del Tayta
Location: Jr. La Merced 604 Hours: 2:00 p.m. - 11:50 p.m. Price: s/ 45 on average The cooking experience of the Amazon river and its creativity wait for you at this restaurant with original plates of typical gourmet food, where tradition, flavors and tendences are combined. You will be satisfied with the unique plates as the arroz cremoso con pato montado, el cuy salvaje a la parrilla, or el spaguetti a la ceja brava. They also have a variety of drinks, but not so good as the dishes. The cheff’s recommendation is trucha sellada al ajonjoli.
Location: Jr. 2 de Mayo 728 Hours: 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. Price: doesn’t say The menu of this restaurant is limited, but the flavor and quality of the pizzas is great. The staff service is good and pizzas don’t take long time to be served. The most you will enjoy at this restaurant is the rural atmosphere and the artisan preparation of pizzas on firewood that gives this special and unique flavor.
Location: Jr. Santo Domingo 424 Hours: doesn’t say Price: doesn’t say The decoration of the inside will help you to enjoy this delicious and abundant food. You will have the option of choosing among local gastronomy combinations and from other regions of Peru; there is a great variety of dishes on their menu. If you come for lunch time at this restaurant, we recommend you to come early because the place is full quickly and the best day menus are finished easily. If you don’t decide what you want to eat, we recommend you the lomo saltado.
The tourist places to see in Chachapoyas are:
Plaza de Armas de Chachapoyas
Location: Jr. Amazonas Hours: all day Price: free entrance In the downtown heart, the Plaza maintains its colonial tradition, surrounded by mansions of classic architecture (some of them are hotels or shops). It’s the departure point of your adventure, since from the Plaza you have access to all the services for tourists and all of the tourist attractions inside the city.
Plazuela de la Independencia
Location: Jr. Amazonas, cuadra 3 Hours: all day Price: free entrance It’s a urban space where there is monument that commemorates the Batalla de Urcos (1821). In the center of the Plaza there are civic ceremonies, where you can appreciate the crossed arches, that symbolize freedom and 3 busts that commemorate the heroes Miguel Grau, Francisco Bolognesi and José Abelardo Quiñones.
El Pozo de Yanayacu
Location: at 2296 feet (700 meters) to the west of the Plaza de Armas Hours: 6:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Price: free entrance It’s also known as the Love fountain; Yanayacu comes from the quechua words “yana” (black) and “yacu” (water), that put together mean “black water”. The legend tells that Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo drove his stick into a stone to make arise miraculously the water in an area of constant drought. Since that day the well’s water has attributed miraculous and healing properties.
Laguna de los Condores
Location: at 57.8 mi (93 km) to the south of the city Hours: all year Price: free entrance It’s a lagoon of extensive landscape, surrounded by jungle nature and forests where are located the funeral towers (“chullpas”) of the chachapoyas culture. It’s also known as the mummies lagoon, since in its waters were found more than 200 mummies in good state of conservation.
Museo de Sitio de Leymebamba
Location: Av. Austria s/n, at 49.7 mi (80 km) to the south of the city Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Price: s/ 10 The museum harbors a collection of more than 230 mummies and archaeological remains of the chachapoyas culture, found in the Condors Lagoon.
Waterfall of Gocta
Location: at 13 mi (21 km) from the city close to the small village of Cocachimba and San Pablo Hours: 7:00 a.m. a 1:00 p.m. (recommended) Price: doesn’t say This waterfall was discovered by the german researcher Stafan Ziemendorf while he was making exploration works in 2002. It’s the 3rd biggest waterfall of the world (with 771 meters of height), followed by El Salto del Angel (Venezuela) and Tugela Falls (South Africa). Most of its territory is still unexplored due to the hard access, but the number of visitors is growing. Another name of the wterfall is La Chorrera.
Location: at 44.7 mi (72 km) to the south-west of the city Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Price: s/ 11 general rate This fortress is located at the archaeological complex of Kuelap, protected by walls of 236 feet (30 meters) of height, that belonged to the Chachapoyas culture. Inside the fortress there are more than 500 rooms separated in 2 sectors (high and low). The ensemble includes administrative, ceremonial and appartment enclosures. It’s believed they were built beginning of the 11th century.
Handicraft centers Huancas
Location: at 6.2 mi (10 km) from the city Hours: 6:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Price: doesn’t say At this talented artisans community, specialists in pottery, you will find a large variety of beautiful decorations and tools made of the Amazonian mud. If you look for a special souvenir to remember Chachpoyas you will have it in this traditional and famous artisans center.
The things to do in Chachapoyas
What to do in Chachapoyas?
Most of the guided tours and the agencies which provide adventure package tours are located close to the Plaza de Armas.
Trekking to the Karajia sarcophagus
Duration: 4 days/3 nights Location: Jr. Ayacucho 932, Plaza de Armas de Chachapoyas Price: s/ 520 In this archaeological and natural adventure route you visit the Karajia sarcophagus, last home of the military leathers of the Chachapoyas culture, and the Huaylla Belen valley (you spend a night in a nearby inn). The route carries on through a pre-incan route, where you will appreciate the flora and fauna of the beginning of the jungle, and then ride a horse across the fog forest. The tour ends with the visit to the Kuelap fortress and the return to the city of Chachapoyas. All explorer who loves rural routes and trekking will be fascinated by this experience.
Rafting in Chachapoyas
Location: Jr. Ortiz Arrieta 508 Price: s/ 70 per person Rafting is one of the most popular adventure sports in Chachapoyas, due to its proximity to the Utcubamba river and its defiant waters. You can choose among packages of basic level, for the people who do rafting for the first time, and advanced, for the most experienced and rash travellers. The experience includes all the implements and the necessary security to enjoy without worries the adventure.
Orchids view at the Vivero de Santa Isabel
Location: at 2 hours from the city Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Price: doesn’t say At this garden center you will discover the colour of the Amazonian flower variety, with more than 150 kinds of orchids and some that hasn’t been yet studied. If you love the nature observation and exotic flowers, come to this place, you won’t miss the hummingbirds flying around the nearby water dispensers.
Cycling in Chachapoyas
Mountain cycling is another of the favourite activities by locals, going through the gorgeous amazonian landscapes and their main natural attractions. Those routes, that go through the Utcubamba river, the Gocta waterfall and the Kuelap fortress take approximately 6 days to go across; during the tour you can visit small towns while you learn about the region’s flora and fauna, observing the orchids, birds and emblem species as the spectacled bear. -You can rent bicycles at the agencies that sell package tours in the Plaza de Armas, in some hotels or different places inside the city. -The rent lasts hours or days, depending on your needs (rates are very cheap).
Typical dishes in Chachapoyas
It’s a dish prepared with different beans kinds and husked wheat. While it’s cooked the plate is seasoned with coriander until you get the adequate colour. The risk of tasting it is that you can be really satisfied.
It’s similar to the purtumute, since the only difference is one ingredient. Instead of husked wheat corn is used on the preparation. Some eat it with peanut and ground chilly pepper with cheese.
It’s a classical dish in Chachapoyas food (although it’s prepared in other cities and countries). The “cazuela” is a soup prepared with hen, mutton, cow or fish, milk, fine noodles (called “cabellos de angel”), sweet potato, potato, corn and several vegetables to give a flavor to the dish.
Dried and salty cow or pork, eaten with manioc, onion and chilly pepper.
Cuy con papas
To prepare this plate, very popular among the andean cities (and some of the jungle), the guinea pig is boiled until the cooking point, and then is seasoned and fried. It’s served with potatoes and toast peanut (or “crema de mani y aji panca).
Juanes de yuca
The juanes are made of boiled and grated manioc, mixed with rice. Inside this mixture they put hen or dried cow. All of it is wrapped in a canna plant with round shape, for being cooked steamed.
Sweet and sour, but exotic and nice, this drink is obtained from the sugar cane juice. The juice is boiled and fermented to have this curious flavor.
Typical liquor of the amazonian region, produced with “chuchuhuasi”, a bitter root plant with healing properties. If you are an experienced wine-taster looking for unusual flavors, you can’t miss this drink.
Licor de mora
Prepared with liquor of blackberry and sweet syrup.
Licor de leche
It’s a drink obtained of the mix of liquor and milk whey, filtered by drops untill being transparent.
How to reach Chachapoyas
Chachapoyas by train
There isnt nowadays a train route to Chachapoyas.
Chachapoyas by flight
The airport of Chachapoyas is located at 6km from the city. From Lima to Chachapoyas there are 405,7 mi (653 km) in a straight line. The airport of Chachapoyas doesnt have a lot of flights and most of them are commercial flights from Chiclayo, Cajamarca and Tarapoto. The closest airports that are running are Chiclayo and Tarapoto, but it takes about 10 hours to get to Chachapoyas, so its quite far away. Not a great option.
Chachapoyas by bus
To get to Chachapoyas you have several options: -If you travel by bus you can get there from Lima, in a 24 hours travel; if you go by plane you have to take a flight destination Tarapoto airport and from there the bus to Chachapoyas. -To shorten distances we recommend you travelling from Chiclayo in a route of 10 hours. Most of the travellers take this route to get to know both cities. -The transportation company that goes to Chachapoyas is Civa and the bus tickets are at s/ 30 to s/ 120 (depending on the departure terminal and the service that you choose).
Accomodations in Chachapoyas
Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostel
Location: Jr. Dos de Mayo 639 Price: rooms from s/ 18 This hotel is modest but has low prices, ideal for the people who doesn’t look luxury and has a low budget. The rooms are simple, doubles, triples and double bed with private bathroom and hot water (the breakfast is not included). Other services that the lodging has are laundry, wifi, kitchen and dining room, Spanish courses and a room with a PC at your disposition.
Hotel Puma Urco
Location: Amazonas 833 Price: s/ 151 - s/ 158 The hotel is an old mansion, with large atmospheres and an excellent service. The workers will be there for all you need and they will serve you in a so nice way that you will desire to stay more days. The services include hot water, private bathroom, laundry, minibar, LCD TV and wifi (even if the signal doesn’t reach all the rooms). We recommend you to take the rooms that don’t face the street since nightlife in Chachapoyas can be really noisy.
Location: Cocachimba, at 26 mi (42 km) from Chachapoyas Price: s/ 265 - s/ 365 This accomodation is much more than a hotel, the Gocta Lodge offers unforgettable experiences to its lucky guests. Its Privileged location facing the Gocta waterfall (close to it) is perfect for the natural observation and to do excursions. The climate of the area is spring-like, adequate not to miss the chance of relaxing in its large pool. All the rooms have a beautiful view over the waterfall landscape. You will have bar restaurant service, laundry, car parking, safety box, internet, gardens, TV, hydromassage and even some lovely llamas that walk on the surroundings. Highly recommended for couples who look for a first, second or third honeymoon.
Important dates in Chachapoyas
Carnival of Chachapoyas
(February to March)
As in other cities of Peru, Chachapoyas celebrates a local version of the carnival with dances, joy, folklore and a lot of water (people get wet easily during the celebration).
Easter in Chachapoyas
The city show its faith in each of the religious festivals. In the churches of Chachapoyas there are prepared scenes where the devoted can dedicate to contemplation and reflection; there are also processions.
Semana Turistica de los Chachapoyas
(June the 1st to the 7th)
During this tourist week you will live all the cultural experience of Chachapoyas, from its history, dances, food and traditions. Those days you can participate of all the activities, making homestay tourism o simply observing the Chachapoyas culture, while you taste an exotic dish of the local gastronomy. Something you should consider (not to be missed) is assisting to the Festival de Danzas Raymillacta, where different communities are joined to show their dance skills.
Anniversary of the Higos Urco Battle
(June the 6th)
The whole city celebrates every year the legendary battle where courageous Chachapoyas settlers joined the liberator army to face the realists (Spanish army), defeating them and achieving like that an important succes for the Independence of Peru.
Patron Saint of the Virgen de Asunta
(August the 15th)
In this day the devoted from Chachapoyas honour the image of the Virgen de Asunta, called in previous times Virgen de la Asuncion, with prayers, processions and activities of cultural kind as the dance.
Anniversary of Chachapoyas
(September the 5th)
At this date locals commemorate the Spanish foundation of Chachapoyas with celebrations all over the province. There will be fireworks, typical of the rural festivals in Peru, typical dishes, dances, costumes, joy, and colors of the Chachapoyas town.