Our last stop in Peru before Mancora for Christmas was back on the fringe of the Amazonian jungle in a town called Chachapoyas. A small colonial town nestled on high ground and surrounded by jungle.
Although we had a long bus journey to get to the town, it broke up what would have been well over a week in Mancora. It also had some really interesting Pre-Inca ruins called Kuelap, which we wanted to see.
We booked into a small guesthouse type hostel with amazing reviews online. The owner met us early morning at the bus station, charged us minimal for a private room and was really helpful with anything we needed. We planned a one day tour and just to chill the rest.
The Kuelap ruins were really interesting. Like a medieval castle, the ruins were of a fortress city built at the top of a mountain overlooking the cloud forests. The builders were Pre-Inca so around 500-1400 AD and started a good few hundred years before Machu Picchu. Although not as impressive as Machu Picchu, considering their age and location they were still really impressive to visit.
A lot is said of how the US archeological team exploited Machu Picchu after its discovery. However, left in the hands of the Peruvian government, Kuelap is under the need of major clearance and up keep. It's a very unknown site in comparison and could really do with more investment and research. Discovered in the 1980's the development of the site has stalled; our guide said a lot was to do with corrupt local governments misusing money put aside for cultural programs.
We treated ourselves to a few nice meals and drinks in town before moving on for our bus journey to Mancora. We booked onto a local bus at the last minute so have 17 hours of bus journeys to look forward to on very ropey old coaches!
A whirlwind 10 days starting on the west coast Ballestas Islands.. going across deserts.. up ice capped mountains and through the jungle made a few weeks in beach resorts for Christmas and New Year well sought after!