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Chachapoya and Inca Cultures(EA81)

This is a program travels the best of two ancient cultures: Chachapoyas and Incas, explores the huge mountaintop temple and fortress of Kuelap, Leymebamba museum (with its collection of 200 mummies), Revash cliff tombs, Cusco, Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu, one of the most impressive ceremonial sites of the ancient world

Available May to October


Día 1: Arrival in Lima
This adventure Chachapoya and Inca Cultures starts with a warm welcome in Lima, capital of Perú, and transfer to the hotel. In the evening we will be picked up to enjoy Peruvian famous cuisine in a nice restaurant. (D)
Day 2: Lima-Chachapoyas
We take an early morning flight from Peru's capital to Jaen; upon arrival we are welcome and transfer our hotel in Chachapoyas. In the afternoon, we will visit an orchid garden where we will appreciate a variety of endemic orchid species; then we will go to a traditional village of Huancas where we will visit the viewpoint over the Sonche Canyon, which has a depth of 1200 meters and a very old geological formation. After we return to the Chachapoyas City.
Day 3: Chapapoyas Journey to the Cliff Tombs of Revash and on to Leimebamba
Today after breakfast, we follow the Utcubamba valley upstream, spotting herons and perhaps an Andean torrent duck in the river as we slowly ascend the valley. At the village of Santo Tomás we turn off the main highway, crossing the river and ascending a side valley where vivid scarlet poinsettias the size of trees overhang the walls of typical Chachapoyas farms, with verandas surrounded by wooden columns, and topped with tile roofs. Soon we meet our wranglers and the calm, sure-footed horses that will carry us up the trail to Revash. Throughout this journey, we gaze up at huge cliffs that loom ever closer. These limestone formations, laid down in even layers over geological aeons, tend to break away in neat collapses, often leaving extensive overhangs and protected ledges beneath them. In such places, the ancient Chachapoya built the tombs where they buried their noble dead. A gigantic fold in the cliffs, testifying to millenia of unimaginable tectonic forces, lies ahead of us, and at the top of the fold one a such cave houses a group of tombs, ruined structures still bearing their original coat of red and white pigment. However, they are far off, and this is not yet Revash. Another hour brings us to a viewpoint much closer to the cliffs, and here we see two adjacent sets of caves, featuring cottage-sized structures covered in still-bright mineral-oxide paintwork. Some of them look like cottages, with gabled roofs, others like flat-topped apartments. They are adorned with red-on-white figures and geometrical symbols -- a feline, llamas, circles, ovals -- and bas-relief crosses and T-shapes, which perhaps once told the rank and lineage of the tombs' occupants. Retracing our steps, we continue our road journey to Leimebamba, which we reach mid-afternoon. This settlement was established by the Incas during their conquest of the region, and continued as a colonial town under the Spanish. It retains much of this antique charm in its balconied houses with narrow streets where more horses than cars are parked. We go a little further up the highway and pull in to the spacious garden environment of the Leimebamba Museum, where we visit a delightful collection of extraordinary artifacts recovered from another group of cliff tombs discovered as recently as 1997 at the remote Laguna de los Condores. The exhibits, cheerfully displayed in well-lit rooms, offer a sample from the mass of artifacts recovered from this amazing discovery. We see gourds carved with animal and geometrical symbols, an array of colorful textiles, ceramics, carved wooden beakers and portrait heads, and a selection of the dozens of quipus (Inca knotted-string recording devices) recovered from the site. A big picture window offers a view of the temperature- and humidity-controlled temporary "mausoleum" where more than two hundred salvaged mummies are kept. Archaeologists are still uncertain as to how most of this material came to be so startlingly well preserved, in tombs that during the rainy season were actually behind a waterfall! But perhaps the most striking thing about the tombs is that they contain burials from all three periods of local history: The Chachapoya culture, the post-Inca invasion period, and the post-Spanish conquest. Archaeologists are continuing to study the material, seeking to learn more about the Chachapoya and their relationship with their Inca masters. The quipu finds have been especially valuable to scholars seeking to decode the Inca record keeping system. Return to Chachapoyas. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Kuelap
We spend a full day visiting this mysterious site, beginning with a drive through places whose names -- Choctamal, Longuita, and Kuelap itself (the great walled city of Northern Peru), names of a lost language and a vanished ancient people who spoke it, the Chachapoyas. We do not know what they called themselves, but the Incas who finally conquered these fierce warriors knew them by their Quechua soubriquet, Chachaphuyu -- Cloud People -- after the cloud-draped region where they lived. Kuelap's existence was first reported in 1843. For years, it was believed to have been a Chachapoyas fortress, and when we first catch sight of it from the fossil-encrusted limestone footpath that leads there it is hard to believe it was not. The massive walls soar to a height of 19m/62ft and its few entranceways are narrow and tapering, ideal for defense. Yet the archaeological evidence now suggests that this was principally a religious and ceremonial site. Chachapoyas was not a nation, or an empire, but some sort of federation of small states centered on numerous settlements scattered across their mountainous territory. The earliest settlement dates obtained here suggest that its construction began around 500A.D. and, like the Moche coastal pyramids; it was built in stages as a series of platforms, one atop the other. It is now a single enormous platform nearly 600m/2,000ft long, stretched along a soaring ridge top. Seen from below, its vast, blank walls give no hint of the complexity and extent of the buildings above. When we reach its summit, we find a maze of structures in a variety of styles and sizes, some of them faced with rhomboid friezes, some ruined and some well preserved. Here we can try to imagine the lives of the Chachapoya elite and their servants who lived here, enjoying a breathtaking view of forested Andean mountains and valleys. Return to Chachapoyas. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Chachapoya-Lima-Cusco
Hotel pick up and transfer to Jaen airport to take the flight to Cusco, with a stopover in Lima. Once we have arrived to the Capital of the Incas, Cusco, and transfer to our hotel where we will be welcomed with a hot cup of coca tea to help with our acclimatization at 3,400 m. Mid-afternoon visit to the Q´oricancha or Temple of Sun, once the most sacred building during Incan times, where Spanish built over a catholic church and convent of Santo Domingo. If time allows, we can enjoy a Cusco traditional dance and music show at the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Theater, otherwise you can enjoy a late afternoon sunset-like walk in downtown Cusco walking the Main Square and nearby narrow streets where there are many handicraft shops, jewelry and fine restaurants. (B)
Day 6: Cusco – Sacred Valley of the Incas.
After breakfast we start the excursion to the Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley of the Incas), famous for its rural landscape and lovely weather. The drive will descend until Pisaq (2,800 m), a small town aside the Vilcanota River, to visit a typical Indian market. Here we can observe men, women, and indigenous authorities displaying beautiful and elegant traditional dressing. The market still shows ancient trading traditions among people who come from other distant small villages. Also, in Pisaq we will visit the famous Archeological Site. Lunch in Urubamba, and in the afternoon, we travel to Ollantaytambo, a former agricultural, military, and religious center, where Inca architecture is one of the finest. This center was built to protect the valley against possible invaders, and is presently considered the best preserved and the only living Inca town today. Overnight in Ollantaytambo. (B, L)
Day 7: Ollantaytambo- Machu Picchu-Cusco.
Early breakfast and transfer to the train station. The railway journey to Machu Picchu will take two hrs, when we reach Aguas Calientes, located below 2,000 m, we will take a 20-minute bus ride up to the Machu Picchu citadel, perched 500 mts above the Urubamba River, and towered by the Huayna Picchu peak (2800 masl). Our guide will explain the history and myths of this archaeological wonder. We will learn why Machu Picchu is one of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth. This landscape shows very steep forests hills frequently shrouded in misty clouds and downhill views of the roaring Urubamba River. Later we take a bus back to Aguas Calientes, where you can enjoy a good buffet lunch on your own. After lunch, we take the train back to Ollantaytambo or Cusco. Transfer to hotel. (B)
Day 8: Cusco-Lima.
Transfer to Cusco`s airport to fly to Lima so you can fly back home(B)


  • Transport in/out to Chachapoyas, Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu
  • Visits to Kuelap archaeological site, Revash burial building, Macro towers and Mummy museum of Leimebamba, Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu
  • Hotel accommodation in Lima, Chachapoyas, Cusco and Ollantaytambo
  • Meals described in itinerary as B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • Entrance fees
  • Horse

Not Included

  • Tips
  • Extra drinks
  • Personal expenses
  • Flights Lima Jaen-Lima-Cusco-Lima
  • Travel insurrence


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