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 or Chachapoyas 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 be visited by flying to Jaen, 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.

    Upon arrival in Jaen, 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

    Today you will visit the tombs of Revash. 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.

    This afternoon head to the Leymebamba Museum. Home to 200+ mummies, important burial gifts and other artefacts, the purpose-built Leymebamba Museum is a tribute to the discovery of burial tombs and mummies on a remote cliff above a lake - Laguna de los Cóndores – in 1997. 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. 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

    Enjoy a full-day tour of the ‘Machu Picchu of the north’ known as Kuelap. 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.

    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. Alternatively, a cable car offers 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.

    Explore the impressive site with 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.

  • Day 4

    Chachapoyas Region

    Hike to Gocta waterfall.

    Your adventure today will be a hike to one of the highest waterfalls in the world - Gocta. Setting off directly from your hotel in Cocachimba with your private guide, the path to the waterfall is well maintained and provides a stable and scenic journey. Some sections have steep inclines, and horses can be hired for part of the journey to the falls or can be pre-arranged for the way back if you’ve had enough walking by then. The walk starts through farmland where sugarcane and other crops are grown, before changing to lush cloud forest with jungle-like vegetation. Engulfed by the sounds, sights and smells of the cloud forest, you’ll enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna along the way, which your guide will point out to you. The path crosses small streams and gorges spanned by short bridges.

    Before you see Gocta, you’ll hear it, and as you advance the volume increases as does the anticipation. With about a third of the way to go, the vegetation opens up, and finally you see the falls. For the rest of the walk the incredible thunderous flow of water is in sight, until you arrive at the base of the falls, stretching your neck into the sun to see the top. At a special vantage point with a view of the waterfalls you’ll take a break and enjoy snacks and a refreshing drink laid out by your guide. After taking in the views, and maybe splashing in the pool at the base of the falls, return via the same path to your hotel.

  • Day 5

    Chachapoyas Region – Lima

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

    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

    Fly Jaen to Lima.

    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 2018

Pricing Info - US$2,121

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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