Embark on this adventure through Northern Peru, an area filled with impressive ruins and unforgettable natural beauty. Travel back in time as you visit Kuélap, an ancient citadel built in the mountains, immerse yourself in the magic of Gocta waterfalls, and discover Chachapoyas, the capital of the Peruvian Amazonas Region. If you only have a limited time to visit this area, we can tailor this itinerary to fit three days instead of four.

Highlights

  • Wander through Kuélap, the fortress in the clouds
  • Hike to Gocta, one of the highest waterfalls in the world
  • Take in panoramic views of Chachapoyas from the Canyon del Sonche

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive to Chachapoyas and Explore the Surrounding Countryside Chachapoyas
Day 2 Discover Kuélap, A Fortress in the Clouds Chachapoyas
Day 3 A Day of Hiking to the Gocta Waterfall Chachapoyas
Day 4 Depart from Chachapoyas  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive to Chachapoyas and Explore the Surrounding Countryside

Incredible views of the area around Chachapoyas
Incredible views of the area around Chachapoyas

Welcome to Chachapoyas, the capital of the Peruvian Amazonas region! There are direct flights available from Lima to Chachapoyas, although be aware that the maximum luggage allowance for these flights is 10kg with an extra 5kg allowed for hand luggage. Once you land, we will pick you up from the airport to bring you to your hotel.

You will have time to settle in and eat lunch before we begin our guided city tour. You will visit the Plaza de Armas, which is a pedestrian area characterized by casonas (mansions) and Colonial-style balconies. 

After this tour, we will take you to Huancas, a village just 20 minutes north of Chachapoyas. Huancas is known for its beautiful pottery and you will learn about the history of ceramics in this region while there.

You will then continue on a one-kilometer hike to Canyon del Sonche, which is the highest canyon in the Peruvian Amazonia. While there, you can go to the view point of Luya Hurco, which will offer you incredible views of Chachapoyas and the mountains of the region.

You can also visit Pozo de Yanayacu (the Well of Yanayacu), a site that was built to protect a sacred source of water. Local legend states that a magical archbishop broke these rocks with his staff in the 16th century to release water and nourish the community of Chachapoyas.

After visiting these sites, we will bring you back to your hotel in Chachapoyas.

Day 2: Discover Kuélap, A Fortress in the Clouds

Panoramic view of circular structures at Kuélap
Panoramic view of circular structures at Kuélap

Enjoy an early breakfast before we leave for the archaeological ruins of Kuélap, the fortress of the Chachapoyas, who were known as the "Warriors of the Clouds."

We will drive for an hour south to Kuélap and then board a cable car, which will take you on a 20-minute journey to La Malca, the starting point for a visit to Kuélap. Once you enter La Malca, you will embark on an easy one-mile walk, which takes about 30 minutes. 

A local guide will take you on a tour of the citadel to teach you about this fortified city, which stands 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level. Humans have lived in the area of Kuélap since the 5th century CE, but most of the structures were built between the 10th and 12th centuries CE, while the walls of this fortress were discovered in 1843.

Kuélap is made up of around 550 structures, all of which are circular, except for five. Make sure to check out sites such as the Major Temple and El Torreón (the Tower). Many of the buildings still contain friezes that represent the deities of the Chachapoyas civilization.

This tour will last two to three hours and afterwards, you will have lunch in a local restaurant before you walk back down to La Malca to return to Chachapoyas.

Day 3: A Day of Hiking to the Gocta Waterfall

Verdant landscapes surround the Gocta Waterfall
Verdant landscapes surround the Gocta Waterfall

Today will be an active one, so make sure to enjoy a hearty breakfast before leaving for Cocachimba, where you will begin your hike to the Gocta Waterfall.

Gocta is one of the highest waterfalls in the world, standing at an imposing 2,500 feet (771 meters). Although this waterfall has been known to the local community for centuries, it wasn’t until 2002 that the world caught wind of it after a German expedition publicized its location.

In fact, the surrounding communities had kept the waterfall a secret based on a local legend that a mermaid protecting its waters would curse those who revealed its whereabouts.

This hike will take you through a beautiful landscape, where you can experience the lush and rich vegetation that make up this “cloud forest.” Along the way, you’ll be able to spot local flora and fauna, such as the spatuletail hummingbird, gallito de las rocas (the national bird of Peru), orchids, and bromeliads.

Be aware that the altitude of this waterfall makes this a more challenging hike, which takes about six hours total. If you’d like an alternate way of visiting Gocta, you can choose to go by horseback. Keep in mind, however, that the last mile of the journey will have to be done by foot as there is no path suitable for horses. This portion takes 45 minutes each way.

After this day of immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Gocta, you will return to Chachapoyas, where you will spend the night.

Day 4: Depart from Chachapoyas

Aerial view of Chachapoyas (c) Joel 20001
Aerial view of Chachapoyas (c) Joel 20001

It's your last day in Chachapoyas, so enjoy your breakfast before we transfer you to the airport to catch your next flight.

We hope you enjoyed your time in magical Northern Peru!