The thing about travel is that not all places you end up in are super-duper fantastic. But they aren’t horrible either. Some places you visit are just regular every day places, a spot in which to spend a pleasant afternoon or have it act as a sightseeing base. The city of Chachapoyas was precisely that in northern Peru. It wasn’t anything special and there wasn’t really anything to see in the city. But it was a pleasant place where we were able while away a few hours, observing a slice of Peruvian life.
Chachapoyas is a fairly small city up in the mountains in the north. It is considered to be the capital of the Amazonas Region. It was founded by the Spanish in 1538 – as such, there are examples of colonial architecture and plazas to check out. Other than that, there really isn’t anything else. There aren’t many tourists here, and those that are here, come for the hiking and the lesser known sites in the region. Sightseeing in Chachapoyas itself takes maybe an hour, maximum. My sister and I, we were here for a night and a full day. As we had already done our regional sightseeing, we stayed in town valiantly looking for things to see/do. We wandered up and down the streets, we people-watched, we chilled out at few different restaurants, and that was it. Not the most exciting of days but it was pleasant enough.
So, should you visit Chachapoyas? I say yes. It is a nice way to see a quieter side to Peruvian city life, and there are some nice places at which you can stay and eat. Also, Chachapoyas makes a good base from which you can visit the many cool things to see in the region.
Where to Stay
If you stay in Chachapoyas, using it as a base, I do recommend where we stayed, La Xalca. It is a pretty replica colonial building, well situated in the city. It has a lovely inner courtyard and appealing rustic furniture. Decent breakfast and pleasant staff.
Where to Eat
El Batan Del Tayta Bar Restaurante: Good food, a wide variety of drinks. Try the plantain chips!
Café Fusiones: Cheap, simple food. You will like that they serve smaller meals if the usual Peruvian size dishes are getting a bit much for you!
Amazonas 632: Café with small meals. Also, it is on the cheaper side.
What to Do in the Region
Karajia: Six sarcophagi that date back to the 15th century; they are high up in a cliff face, making for dramatic viewing. Vaguely human shaped, they are painted white and are adorned with yellow and red pigments. Some of them even have a human skull on their heads!
Quiocta Caverns: Six connected caverns that contain the usual stalagmites and stalactites. But they also contain human remains! It is believed that these caverns were once used by the Chachapoya people as a burial place.
Revash: A funerary complex located high up on a mountain side. They probably date to the 14th century. The structures at Revash look like little houses and once would have contained mummies. The outsides are covered in various painted symbols and shapes.
Kuelap: A 6th century walled city built by the Chachapoya people. It is one of the largest stone structures in the Americas and was used until about the 16th century. It is considered “the” site to visit in northern Peru.
Gocta Falls: A waterfall with two drops. While it was well-known to locals, it was only made known to the wider world in 2005. It isn’t official how tall it is so some say Gocta is the 3rd tallest in the world, 5th tallest, or 16th tallest. However tall the falls are, they are amazing!