Peru’s Best Kept Secret

Lush vegetation, mountainous terrain, impressive hidden waterfalls and archaeology of tremendous cultural significance hidden amid the undergrowth – Chachapoyas is truly ‘Indiana Jones’ territory. A junction of the Amazon Rainforest, the Andes mountain range and the coast, Chachapoyas sits off-the-beaten path. Flying in and out of Jaen airport, the rest of the journey will be overland, accompanied by an expert and knowledgeable guide, exploring the wild, unspoiled landscapes and highlights of the region. Discover for yourself Peru’s Best Kept Secret.

Good time to travel: This itinerary is best from May to early October (approx). The area is remote and the rainy season very wet, creating the risk that roads and access are hampered.

Variations: Chachapoyas can also be visited by flying to or from the Chachapoyas airport during dry season, or to Chiclayo, Tarapoto and Cajamarca – offering alternative routes and combinations with other parts of Peru.

Highlights
  • Come face-to-face with the mummies of Leymebamba Museum with an exclusive VIP guided tour with the co-founder
  • Explore the pre-Inca ruins of Kuelap fortress city, nestled in the cloud forest
  • Visit the towering Gocta waterfall
Daily Summary

Day 1 Lima – Leymebamba Fly Lima to Jaen. Scenic road journey from Jaen to Leymebamba. Overnight Kentitambo.

Day 2 Leymebamba Walk through the cloud forest to the cliff tombs of Revash. Visit to Leymebamba Museum, home to over 200 mummies. Overnight Kentitambo.

Day 3 Chachapoyas Region Take in Kuelap pre-Inca ruins, the largest ancient stone structure in South America. Overnight Gocta Natura Cabins.

Day 4 Chachapoyas Region Hike to Gocta waterfall. Overnight Gocta Natura Cabins.

Day 5 Chachapoyas Region – Lima Overland scenic transfer to Jaen. Fly Jaen to Lima for onward travel.

  • Day 1

    Lima – Leymebamba

    Flight Lima to Jaen. Jaen to Leymebamba by private road transfer

    An Aracari representative will be expecting you in Lima from your international or domestic arrival. He will greet you with a welcome pack, brief you on your trip and whisk you off to the departure area to for your flight to Cajamarca, assisting you with all check-in procedures.

    Transfer from Jaen airport to Leymebamba | An Aracari representative will be expecting you from your domestic flight with a sign bearing your name. He will accompany you on the 5 hour journey to Leymebamba. A scenic route, you‟ll notice the surroundings change from fertile agricultural valleys with rice paddies and coconut groves to steep mountain ravines as you climb higher. The route follows the Marañón River briefly and then the Utcubamba River for most of the journey. Depending on time available there are several opportunities to stop along the way to stretch your legs, take photos of the scenery, rivers, a waterfall and hidden pre-Inca tombs in the cliffside.

  • Day 2

    Leymebamba

    Guided visit to Cliff Tombs of Revash & the exclusive access visit to Leymebamba Museum

    Tombs of Revash | Visit to the Chachapoya mausoleums with an expert guide | High on the hills of Peru's northern cloud forest, this collection of tombs from the Chachapoya civilization sit on the edge of a limestone cliff. Built from mud -set stones, they resemble houses and are painted in red and white hues, collectively forming miniature villages along the face of the cliff. Accessible via a pleasant walk through the scenic countryside, your expert guide will lead you on this interesting excursion into Peru's past.

    One of several burial methods used by the pre- Inca Chachapoya people, the mausoleums were not used individually – rather they were collective tombs for the wealthy and powerful of their society. In the 1980s archaeologists found 12 skeletons, along with musical instruments and tools made of bone. Along with the tombs, there are paintings of animals, people and geometric designs.

    To visit the tombs of Revash, you'll take a winding drive through the hills with scenic views of the landscape, to the village of San Bartolo. Here you register to visit the site, and then set off on the trail with your guide. The trail is well maintained, and paved for most of the 30 to 40 minute walk, getting steeper and uneven towards the end. You'll first see a small mausoleum in the cliff face, before continuing for another 5 minutes to the most impressive set of tombs. Below, there is a small sheltered viewpoint offering a great perspective of the tombs above. Your guide will explain about their construction and importance, and also set up a telescope so you can get an up close look at all the detailed painting and designs. You will then return to the village via the same path where your vehicle and driver will be waiting.

    Leymebamba Museum | 2-hour tour with museum co-founder | In 1997 mainstream media was alerted to the discovery of burial tombs and mummies on a remote cliff above a lake - Laguna de los Cóndores – an arduous 10-hour journey by mule from Leymebamba. Built by the pre-Inca Chachapoya civilization, this was a sacred place to honor the dead. Slashed open by looters looking for sellable treasure, the NGO Centro Mallqui embarked on an emergency salvage mission, removing the contents of the tombs and taking them to a lab in Leymebamba for urgent conservation work. The findings were so special that they merited the creation of their own museum. Today, the 200+ mummies, important burial gifts and other artefacts are on display at the purpose-built Leymebamba Museum. Museum co-founder, Adriana Von Hagen, gives Aracari's guests a behind-the-scenes exclusive access visit to the Museum: visit areas otherwise closed to the public with the highlight the temperature-controlled room storing these fascinating mummies, as well watching archaeologists at work and talking to them about their preservation efforts.

  • Day 3

    Chachapoyas Region

    Guided visit to Kuelap

    Kuelap – the walled city | Full-day tour accompanied by expert guide | Built by the pre-Inca Chachapoya civilization, known as the "warriors of the clouds", Kuelap is one of the biggest ancient stone complexes in the western hemisphere. Built at 3,000m above sea level, on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, the imposing site is over 600 meters in length.

    For your day at Kuelap, you'll be collected in the morning from your hotel in Leymebamba by your private vehicle and driver, for the hour-long drive to the village of Tingo. From here access to Kuelap is via a winding unpaved road, which slowly ascends the mountains, for just over an hour, offering beautiful views of the valley below. A new cable car will open in 2017, improving access to the site, and offering a scenic journey with incredible views on the way up. Either way, once at the top and entrance to the site, there is an approximately 30 minute walk to the archaeological site, via a paved uphill path, with horses available to ease the journey.

    Enjoy a full tour and exploration of the impressive site, led by your expert private guide, discussing the history and significance of the fortified city, and taking in the panoramic views of the Chachapoyas cloud forest in the valleys below. At the end of your visit, you'll continue your onward journey to your next destination – Cocachimba.

  • Day 4

    Chachapoyas Region

    Hike to Gocta waterfall.

    Hike to Gocta waterfall | Although known to locals for centuries, it wasn't until an expedition by a German explorer in 2005 prompted the measurement and documentation of the falls that Gocta was declared the third highest waterfall in the world. Its official height and rank has since been contentious, and epending on your source it varies from the world's 3rd highest to 16th highest. Regardless of its status, it's an incredibly impressive sight to take in from the different vantage points offered on this picturesque hike through the cloud forest.

  • Day 5

    Chachapoyas Region – Lima

    Overland scenic transfer to Jaen. Fly Jaen to Lima for onward travel.

    Transfer from Cocachimba to Jaen airport | An Aracari representative will meet you at your hotel, for the 5 hour journey to Jaen airport. A scenic route, you'll notice the surroundings change from cloud forest to steep mountain ravines, to fertile agricultural valleys with rice paddies and coconut groves to as you descend. The route follows the Utcubamba River for most of the journey and then the Marañón River briefly at the end. Depending on time available there are several opportunities to stop along the way to stretch your legs and take photos of the scenery, rivers and even a waterfall

    Assistance Between Domestic and International Flights | An Aracari representative will be expecting you from your domestic flight from Jaen with a sign bearing your name. He will assist you with your onward journey.

Itinerary pricing as of 2017

Pricing Info - US$1,669

This is an example itinerary and can be entirely customized to suit you. Just get in touch and we’ll design your own tailor-made itinerary according to your interests, travel style and budget.

  • Based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy
  • Price is per person for this 5-day itinerary
Pricing Alternatives
  • Alternatively this itinerary can be created starting in Tarapoto, Chiclayo or Cajamarca. Contact us for variations and alternatives
What's Included?

This itinerary is based on two people travelling together in double or twin occupancy, excluding flights (international and domestic).

  • Includes all specified services in the itinerary description
  • All transfers and entrance fees
  • A welcome pack on arrival including: a pre-loaded cell phone to contact your travel consultant at any time, a printed booklet packed with insider tips alongside your detailed itinerary and up-to-date recommendations on dining and shopping
  • Hand-selected English-speaking guides
  • Specialist guides (where noted)
  • 24-hour support from our locally based team
  • 4 nights in a hand-picked and personally tested selection of Peru’s best accommodation options in the region
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