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Kuélap Ruins - Ruin Kuélap - Peru

Clouds wrap around the mountains, around the stones of the Forteleza. A silence pervades the air, a silence of centuries. What did these massive walls of Kuélap protect? Photos cannot accurately portray this ancient citadel that sits at 3,000 meterse (9,842 ft). The perimeter wall, containing a number of human and animal burials, measures 20 meters (65 ft) high and half a kilometer (0.3 mi) long. You enter the site through one of three entries, wedges cut through this stone pedestal. The passage narrows, allowing only one person to enter at a time. Carvings of faces stare at you.

Within, the jungle-covered four-hectare (10-ac) city is divided into Pueblo Bajo and Pueblo Alto, and is comprised of over 400 circular once-homes, some with the intricate Chachapoya stone friezes. To the South is the Templo Mayor (formerly called El Tintero), a towering construction with a hollow core shaped like an inverted inkwell. In Pueblo Alto are two buildings of note. The Castillo, a rectangular building, may have been a mausoleum. In the extreme northern end is a defensive tower, El Torreón, where many weapons were unearthed. There is one restored building. In the entire site, only four quadrangular, probably Incan, edifices exist.

Recent excavations have dramatically changed opinion of what Kuélap was and who its inhabitants were. No longer are they viewed as a warrior tribe who practiced no farming, but a people whose agricultural production was so great as to allow trade from coast to jungle. El Tintero is now known to have been a ceremonial site, not a torture chamber. It is much older than the 900 years previously thought; occupation began around 400 BC. Archaeologist Alfredo Narváez believes it was a holy site to which Chachapoya peoples from all over the realm came to inter their dearly departed.

It is possible to visit Kuélap both with a tour agency (many agencies in Chachapoyas run tours to Kuélap) or independently, via a 4-5 hour strenuous hike from the village of Tingo. You can also hire a local guide in Kuélap.

Kuélap, Peru


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Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:8 a.m.

Open Hours to:5 p.m.

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

By Lorraine Caputo

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

12 Jul 2012

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