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Gran Vilaya - Ruin Kuélap - Peru

In 1985 a great discovery hit the headlines: Gran Vilaya. Reported to the authorities by Silverio Visalot Chávez, and investigated by US explorer Gene Savoy, these ruin complexes extend west from the Río Utcubamba to the Río Marañón. The actual number of sites may be around 150, with 30 being important. They include Paxamarca, Pueblo Nuevo, Pueblo Alto, Pirquilla, Yumal and Machu Llacta. Connected by ancient stone roads and trails winding through pristine forests at the edge of the Andes, little excavation has been done.

Treks of four to five days of the Gran Vilaya can be arranged in Chachapoyas, Lámud or Cohechán. The journeys usually include visits to Karajía and Huaylla Belén, then into Gran Vilaya itself, to Congón and ending at Kuélap. You can opt for an extension to include Revash and Centro Mallqui in Leymebamba. Treks can also be planned in Choctámal, near Kuélap. Colectivos depart form Luya for Huaylla Belén.

If your Spanish is good and you have the gear, you could do it on your own. However, trails are often unmarked and the ruins difficult to find in the lush vegetation. No maps are available.

Kuélap, Peru

Ruin Types:

Getting There

Direct pickups from Chachapoyas to Congón daily at 4 a.m., from Cafetería San José (Jirón Ayacucho, in front of Banco de la Nación) or from Grau and Triunfo (3 hr, more if it's raining; $9). Buy tickets the day before. Hire guides in Congón for Gran Vilaya.

Travel Tips:

A guide is necessary to Gran Vilaya. There are no maps or signs.
There are no hotels in Congón, but families do rent rooms.

Price Description:

Relative price: High End

Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.

Here are other activities in and around Kuélap that may be of interest: Macro and Kuélap Ruins.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

30 Apr 2012

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