This quick trip through the highlights of Northern Peru includes the impressive ruins of Kuelap, the incredible sarcophagi of Karajia, and the Museum of Leymebamba with over 200 mummies on display. You'll also head deep into the Amazonas region to find the waterfalls of Gocta (considered being the third highest in the world) and the rare spatuletail hummingbird, found nowhere else on the planet.

Highlights

  • Discover the "Machu Picchu of the North" in Kuelap
  • Hike to Gocta, one of the highest waterfalls in the world
  • Explore the culture of Lima, Peru's metropolitan capital

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Arrival at Jaen - Transfer to Chachapoyas Chachapoyas
Day 3 Chachapoyas to the Archaeological complex of Kuelap Chachapoyas
Day 4 Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 771 m Chachapoyas
Day 5 Fly from Jaen to Lima, Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 
  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Arrival at Jaen - Transfer to Chachapoyas

Andean Valleys of the Amazonas Region

This morning, you will be transferred to the Lima airport to catch your flight to Jaen. Upon arrival at Jaen airport, you will be greeted and transfer to the Amazonas Region. Passing through Andean valleys, crossing the Marañón River and enjoying an impressive landscape with rice plantations and coconut trees.  

Continuing through the Utcubamba canyon on the roadside of the River Utcubamba until your arrival to Chachapoyas. Free afternoon to relax and get some rest before your big days ahead. 

Day 3: Chachapoyas to the Archaeological complex of Kuelap

Kuelap

Early arrival into Chachapoyas in time to check-into your hotel and get some breakfast. After, we leave Chachapoyas for the archeological complex of Kuelap! After a one-hour drive, we arrive at the boarding bus to the cable car. Then we travel 10 minutes to the starting platform, board the cable car and travel another 20 minutes (4 km) and enjoy the spectacular views.

Arrival at the tourist stop of La Malca from where you start a 2-km easy walk.  

Visit of the fortified city of Kuelap (3000 m): Built from 400 years AC in an area of 6 hectares, with more than 500 circular buildings and other religious buildings such as the Major Temple, El Torreon. The buildings are decorated with friezes, diamonds and stylized beings, representing the major deities. The walls of this fortified city, discovered in 1843, are between 5 and 20 meters high and the city measures 600 meters long and 110 meters large. 

The visit will take between 2 - 3 hours before you will first walk back another 30 minutes to La Malca and from there come down with the cable car.

Have lunch in a local restaurant before the journey back to Chachapoyas.

Day 4: Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 771 m

Gocta Waterfall

After breakfast, you will leave for Cocachimba—this is where you will start your hike to the Gocta waterfall.

On the way, you can observe the local agricultural activity, we across amid the dense vegetation typical for the cloud forest, habitat to the spatuletail hummingbird, gallito de las rocas (Peru's national bird), orchids and bromeliads.

Note: This is a difficult hike, about 6 hours return. You might want to choose a horse, knowing that anyway the last 2 km (45 minutes walking one way) you will have to walk, as it is not adapted to the horses.

Day 5: Fly from Jaen to Lima, Depart Peru

Photo taken by Lynda P
Photo taken by Lynda P.

Today is your last day in Peru. You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Jaen airport, where you will catch your flight back to Lima and then transfer to your international flight back home or to your next destination. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Secrets of Northern Peru: Kuelap Ruins & Gocta Waterfalls - 5 Days
Map of Secrets of Northern Peru: Kuelap Ruins & Gocta Waterfalls - 5 Days