Chachapoyas is a fairly unknown city in north eastern Peru. It is the cheapest city in Peru we have seen with excellent complete meals around 6-12 soles (2-5$.) Tourists are a new thing here and you can expect weird looks and kids laughing when you walk by. My 2 meter (6’6) height was an attraction for the locals. Restaurants can be good and surprisingly during the week end, for a city of 60.000, there is a pretty good night life! Chachapoya has a main Plaza and a church and that is pretty much it. The fun activities are outside the city.
How to go to Chachapoyas
Most people will usually arrive from Chiclayo (9 hours) or Cajamarca (6 hours.) The bus can cost up to 55 Soles (21$) and the company I recommend is Moviltour; really confortable and food is included. It feels like taking a plane!
What to do in Chachapoyas
There are many activities to do in the surrounding region. Each of these activities require a certain amount of transport as cities are scattered far apart and the region is full of canyons that take a long time to go down and up from.
Kuelap ruinsKuelap is the most important activity of all northern Peru. The only other destination that can compare is Machu Pichu. An immense fortress city located at 3300 meters at the top of mountain. This activity takes all day and you can expect to pay around 15$. Also it is still unknown and you can expect to have solitude and moments to yourself in the middle of the beautiful ruins (lamas might come disturb you though!) You can read more about Kuelap ruins here.
Gotca falls: 2nd highest waterfalls in Peru and 16th in the world, Gotca falls will amaze you. This is a full day activity with around 6 hours of hiking. Going there takes around 1 hour and it will cost you around 10$ if you take it as a tour. The waterfalls are divided in two sections and all along the hike you will get beautiful views on the waterfall. As you get closer the jungle gets denser and humidity rises. Once you are at the bottom of it you will be overwhelmed by the energy of the place. Best time to go is at the beginning and the end of the wet season. You can read more about Gotca Falls here.
Huancas canyon: This half day activity is amazing. The small town of Huancas is located 25 minutes away from Chachapoyas. Taking a collective bus will be only 3 soles (1$.) Once you arrive at the small town of Huencas you will walk for 15 minute to the Mirador (point of view) that dominates the gigantic canyon. The only two canyons more majestic I have seen is Grand Canyon and the one in Montenegro. You can hike all the way down in 45 minutes but you can expect the hike up to be around 2 hours. Once down there you can walk a big part of the day in trails carved in the flank of the canyon and it offers you a good view on the river. After the activity is done you can either take a collective back or walk to Chachapoyas; it is 45 minute descend. I also recommend taking 30 minutes to walk around the small farm roads of Huancas.
Mendoza caves: 2 hours and a half away from Chachapoyas, the city of Mendoza is known for its caves. In one of them you can observe ruins and traces of civilisations that used it as a house for centuries. Further down the cave you come to a second chamber where there are big stalagmites and stalactites. A full day activity.
Other activities in Chachapoyas: The surrounding region is full of other activities you can negotiate at the Touristic agency on the main plaza of Chachapoyas. Small villages surrounding the city and many hikes are available.
Where to sleep in Chachapoyas
We recommend sleeping at backpacker’s hostel. The owner is one of the friendliest person I have met and he will do everything he can to make sure your stay will be memorable. He knows the region perfectly and the time schedule of everything. The rooms are confortable and tours are offered at the hostel for a very low price (under 15$ for a full day.)