Kuelap Fortress and Gocta Waterfalls

Kuelap Fortress and Gocta Waterfalls 4 days 3 nights

Explore Peru’s Pre-Inca past and the incomparable natural history of the Amazonian Andes. At around 3000 meters above sea level (9850 feet), the vast fortified complex of Kuelap was created by the Chachapoyas people, who dominated this part of Peru before the Incas expanded their empire into the region. Dating from the 6th century AD, Kuelap is situated on a remote mountaintop, and its hundreds of round stone and thatch buildings are surrounded by a massive perimeter wall, measuring up to 20 meters in height in places, and extending for more than six hundred meters in length.

YOUR DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY AND SERVICES:

Day 1: Chachapoyas – Huancas

We will pick you up from your hotel for the drive from the town of Chachapoyas to the village of Huancas, and 8-kilometer (15-minute) ride through the fertile landscape of this part of northern Peru. The way of life in Huancas remains little-changed, with the men mostly engaged in small-scale agriculture and women continuing to produce handmade pottery. The cooking pots and pitchers produced in Huancas are decorated with relief and incised motifs and fired in open, wood-burning kilns. Situated at 2693 meters above sea level (8830 feet), the Huancas viewing point is situated around 5 kilometers from the village. From the viewing point, there are magnificent views down to the Sonche River, 962 meters below, and Utcubamba River, 1077 meters below.

Day 2: Kuelap cable car and archaeological site

After an early breakfast, we will set off for the fortress of Kuelap, the most important Chachapoyas culture archaeological site, and one of Peru’s great hidden treasures. We will drive the village of Tingo, from where a dramatic 20-minute ride will take us to ruins. The cable car crosses the Tingo River canyon as far as Malcapampa, where we will disembark and begin the 15 to 20-minute walk the main gateway of the fortress. 

The largely unexplored Kuelap archaeological site lies in the high forests that mark the transition from the Andes to the Amazon, at 3009 meters (9870 feet) above sea level. This massive fortified complex served as the main political, military and religious center for Chachapoyas culture, before they were conquered by the Incas in the 15th century. At Kuelap, our guide will explain the history of the city and you will visit its different sectors, including the ceremonial areas, the main temple, round residential buildings and storehouses. Your tour of this great Pre-Inca fortress will take around three hours. Following the tour and a stop for lunch, we will drive back to the city of Chachapoyas, where you will be transferred to your hotel.  

Optional additional hike: Those who choose to can hike down with our guide from the Kuelap fortress to the Utcubamba river valley (a descent from 3009 meters / 9870 feet to 1780 meters / 5840 feet). This walk usually takes less than three hours. 


Day 3: Chachapoyas – San Pablo – Gocta waterfall

After an early breakfast, we will pick you up from your hotel for the one-hour drive from Chachapoyas to the small town of San Pablo, where we will begin our hike to one of the world’s highest waterfalls. On the 2.5 hour walk to the 771-meter Gocta waterfall, you will pass through forests that are home to orchids, multicolored butterflies, many bird species and other subtropical flora and fauna. At the imposing Gocta waterfall, there will be plenty of time to appreciate this magnificent sight, take photographs, and enjoy the surrounding scenery. Upon our return to San Pablo, we will be served a typical lunch before beginning the journey back to your hotel in Chachapoyas. 

Day 4: Karajia sarcophagi – Quiocta caves

After breakfast, we will pick you up from your hotel for the drive to Cruzpata, where we will begin the 25-minute walk to the Pre-Inca funerary complex known as Karajia. Here, the ancient Chachapoyas culture built a series of upright sarcophagi at the top of a virtually inaccessible clifftop. From Karajia, we will continue to Luya-Lamud for a delicious lunch, before visiting Quiocta, caverns containing enormous series of stalagmites and stalactites, which the people of the Chachapoyas culture used as a funerary complex. In the late afternoon, back in the town of Chachapoyas you will be transferred to your hotel.

EXTENSIONS: DO YOU HAVE MORE TIME TO SPEND IN PERU?

Other travelers added the following extension to this Peru itinerary...

LIMA CITY TOUR AND LARCO MUSEUM Full day 
At the start or end of your Peru vacation, take a day in Lima to visit the City of Kings, with its historic center, modern shopping district, world-class museums, and excellent restaurants. Lima, known originally as the City of Kings, was founded by the Spanish in 1535, just two years after Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadores arrived in Peru. The capital and largest city in Peru, Lima is home to around nine million people. This sprawling metropolis has grown around the colonial-era heart of the city, which the Spanish established on a grid system around the spacious main square, or Plaza Mayor. 

CHECK TO SEE WHAT'S INCLUDED AND WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING...

Included
  • All land transport (private vehicle)
  • English speaking guide
Not included
  • Kuelap entrance fee 
  • Tips
What to bring:
  • Passport
  • Daypack
  • Rain jacket
  • Cap and sunglasses
  • Sun block 
  • Water
  • Camera
FAQs - Frequently asked questions

What is the best thing to do in cases of altitude sickness?

Our guides are trained to assist travelers in the event of acute mountain sickness. They can provide an emergency oxygen bottle and first aid kit; however, travelers should carry their own personal medication, such as treatment for headaches or stomach ailments.

How can I prepare for high altitude?
The best way to deal with high altitude is by allowing the body time to adapt. We recommend at least one day at altitude with minimal activity, to allow the organism to begin to adjust. During your first days at altitude, your metabolism will be working hard to produce more red blood cells and carry the limited oxygen available around your body more efficiently. Be sure to eat lightly during your first few days at altitude, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.

What about payment, do I need to make a deposit?
After we have confirmed your booking you will need to pay a deposit, the amount of which will depend on the tour you book and the size of your party. The remaining balance must be paid at our office in Cusco at least 2 days prior to the scheduled departure date, before 19:30. Payment should be made in US dollars or local currency. When we confirm your booking, we will send you more details about how to complete payment.

If I cancel my trip, can I get a refund?
Refund are available up to a certain date, after which only a percentage of the amount paid can be refunded. Please ask us for our booking conditions at time of booking.

Do I need a visa to enter Peru?
Travelers with a US, UK, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport do not need a visa to enter Peru for tourism or business for up to 90 days. For those traveling on another passport, information on visa requirements for Peru is available at http://www.projectvisa.com/visainformation/Peru

Is my passport valid?
We recommend that visitors to Peru travel on a passport valid for at least six months after the scheduled end of their trip.

Do I need vaccinations?
No vaccinations are mandatory for entering Peru. However, most international travelers choose to vaccinate themselves against hepatitis A, typhoid fever and tetanus. If you are planning to travel to the Amazon basin, you should consider malaria prophylaxis and yellow fever vaccination. Check with your physician or local clinic before traveling.

Will I be met at the airport?
Yes, if your itinerary includes transfers or you have asked us to pick you up, our staff will be at the airport to meet you and transfer you to your hotel. We can also provide airport transfers at the end of your itinerary.

Should I travel with cash or cards?
Cash is easy to exchange for local currency, and at popular tourism destinations US dollars are readily accepted. If you plan to use cards, inform your bank before departure that you will be using your cards overseas. Current exchange rates can be checked at https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/

Are ATMs available?
ATMs are available at most of the destinations included in our itineraries, providing both US dollars and local Peruvian currency. The most secure ATMs are those located in banks, hotels, restaurants or stores.

What kind of weather should I expect?
Weather in Peru varies according to the geographic region you are traveling in, and also altitude. In the Andean highlands (Cusco, Arequipa and Lake Titicaca), where UV levels are high, daytime temperatures peak at between 15 to 21 Celsius (60 and 70 Fahrenheit), while nighttime temperatures range from 1.1 to 5.5 Celsius (30 to 42 Fahrenheit). During the dry season (from April to October), the weather tends to be clear and sunny. The rainiest months are January and February. In the Amazon basin the hottest and most humid months occur during the wet season (from December to April), with the rainiest months being January and February, although of course it can rain at any time in tropical and subtropical forests. Peru’s desert coast is warm all year round, although Lima and the surrounding coastal belt are usually overcast outside the summer months (January to March). There is almost no rainfall in Lima, but humidity is high. Machu Picchu is situated at around 2400 meters (7875 feet) above sea level in an area of subtropical cloud forest. Daytime temperatures range from 26 to 29 Celsius (80 to 85 Fahrenheit). There is the chance of rain at any time of year. The driest months are May to September.

Who will guide me?
At Andean Adventures Peru, we work with experienced local guides, all of whom have graduated in tourism after a 5-year course at a Peruvian university. All our guides speak English and Spanish and are knowledgeable, patient and informative. Guides in other major languages are also available upon request.

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