Chachapoyas and Kuelap







            This page starts with a beautiful display from some hard working street artists, continuing the festivities of the Festival del Pan, the Chachapoyas-specific holiday.  Review the previous page (Northern Peru 1) because it ends at the fireworks display from the night before this page and will provide a more complete picture of this wonderful holiday and the people of Chachapoyas.

            Kuelap, the super fortress of the Chachapoyan Cloud People, is called the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru and is a relatively new discovery.  Roads through this region were almost non-existent 40 years ago and there are many more ruins to be discovered here.

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The morning after the firework show I went to catch a tour van to Kuelap from the Chachapoyas town center and found these.

Various groups of people stayed up all night long to decorate the streets around the town square.

At 7:00 AM when I arrived they were completing the finishing touches.

Most of them had a catholic theme.

Looking a little closer there's a bad habit!

There were about 12 of these decorative street-art displays around the square.

These are all made from bark chips, leaves, moss, dirt, flowers and other organic stuff with "natural dye" added.

The texture of the materials really made the colors stand out.

We're almost done with these...

This whole festival really helped to accentuate this very unique, friendly, colorful mountain community.

On the way to Kuelap. Old tombs are seen in the rock faces of many cliffs in this region.

Different rock face with tombs, near the previous picture.

Curious kid in Maino, a small village on the way to Kuelap.

Maino town square.

At the entrance to the Kuelap ruins these folks were renting horses.

First glance of Kuelap, the largest fortress in Northern Peru.

Carlos, the crappy tour guide, shows us the difference between the original wall (left, without mortar) and the renovated wall (right, with mortar).

Kuelap is 700 meters long and 110 meters wide and sits on a limestone ridge, providing a 15 acre platform.

There are three narrow entrances to the fortress of Kuelap helping to keep it safe from attackers.

View from Kuelap.

More of the old wall.

Llamas were used to bring supplies to Kuelap, and usually stepped in the same places with every trip, carving their hoof marks in the stone.

The Chachapoyas people built Kuelap in stages, beginning around AD 900 and it contains three times more stone than the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt.

They used stones and mud to back-fill the walls and create the 15 acre platform.

Info for following picture.

Have you ever heard the word "inexpugnable"? Is it a word?

Human bones found in one of the buildings, or staged there by the locals.

Over 400 of these round homes were found at Kuelap, a very distinct style of home built only by the isolated Chachapoyas people.

By the year 1500 the Inca's had ruled over most of the Andes region but had a difficult time with the stubborn Chachapoya people.

Carlos points out the decorations in the walls of these two round homes.

Looking down the narrow passage way.

Manco Inca, Inca ruler, wanted to use Kuelap to rebel against the Spaniards, but the Chachapoyans killed his envoy when they tried to set the deal.

Shortly thereafter the Spaniards had complete control of the Inca Nation.

Some historians say that if the Inca's would have made a stand against the Spaniards from Kuelap that history would likely be different.

More round homes, the thatched roof replicated to the best guess of how the originals would have appeared.

On one of the narrow entrances.

Also at an entrance.

Last one.