Deep in the north-eastern corner of the Peruvian Andes, lies one of the country’s most fascinating and least visited regions Chachapoyas, capital of Amazonas state. Surrounded by lush cloud-forested mountains punctuated with pre-Inca towns, this was home to the Chachapoyas civilisation, dubbed the “Warriors of the Clouds” which dates back to 850 AD. At is heart, often referred to the “Machu Picchu of the north”, is the massive stone fortress of Kuelap which features over 400 interior buildings and rampart walls up to 60 feet in height and said to contain some three times more stone than Egypt’s great pyramid at Giza. Little is known about the Chachapoyas culture, conquered and assimilated by the Inca before the arrival of the Spanish, though intriguing ruins such as Gran Pajáten and Gran Saposoa are dotted throughout landscape while cliff tombs and eerie sarcophagi such as at Karajia overlook the river gorges.
Way off the beaten track, Chachapoyas is one of Peru’s most up-and-coming destinations though access is difficult, either via a long road trip from Chiclayo or Cajamarca or sporadic flights. However, services are improving and once you make the effort, you can spend a good number of days exploring the sites and picturesque scenery and even hike up to the impressive Gocta Falls, third highest waterfall in the world.