Wednesday, 31 May 2017

PERU: Interesting Places To Visit In Amazonas Region

Interesting places to visit in the region Amazonas.

To get it clear right from the beginning: The Amazonas region is not close to the Amazonas River, nor is it in the hot and humid jungle. The region of the Amazonas lies mainly in the Andean mountains and most of the tourist sites are between 1,400 and 3,000 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.).

You definitely should come prepared with sun block, a hat, mosquito repellent and good walking shoes, as well as some rain gear and an extra layer. Anything can happen here.

Many of you have likely read about the fortified city of Kuelap, the region’s highlight.

Kuelap was built between 500 and 800 AC by the Chachapoya civilization on the height of a mountaintop at 3,000 m.a.s.l. It even seems that archaeologists have found evidence of people living there as early as 400 AC and the investigations are still going on.

The city is surrounded by up to 20 meter high walls, which is why archaeologists initially thought that it was a fortress.

Today they have shifted their analysis to saying that it was rather a religious and administrative center of the Chachapoya. Chachapoya means Warrior of the clouds.

The chronicler Cieza de Leon said that the Chachapoya people were tall, blonde-haired people of fair skin color and with blue eyes.

Until today, we don’t know where this comes from; one theory is that Celtic people came to Peru, hundreds of year ago. It seems that their women were extremely beautiful considering that after the conquest of the Incas, many of the most beautiful women were sent to Cusco to serve the Incas there.

The city of Kuelap is built on two levels and there are only three entrances. One is to the cliff side and was used as an “emergency exit”; the two other exits are particularly interesting in their form and construction.

From around 3 meters wide at the beginning, the entrance channel becomes more and more narrow, to allow only one person at a time to pass at its end.

Like this, Kuelap was extremely easy to defend, as the Chachapoya warriors could just wait for the enemies to try to come in and throw stones or other projectiles at them.

Currently the main entrance is under renovation and you cannot use it. You will enter the city through the second entrance, which actually was the delivery entrance for fresh produce, corn, potatoes and water.

On the light stone of the stairs, you will even find some llama tracks. Do you know that llamas were the pack animals for the Chachapoya? Not only can a llama carry about 15 kg on its back, it was also a source of meat and wool.

On the first level you will see the ruins of about 500 roundhouses,the form in which the Chachapoya built their houses, all built on a higher base and some of them with beautiful stone decoration.

The gods of the Chachapoya were the condor, the feline and the snake, each representing one of the three “worlds”: the world of the gods, the world you live in, and the world of death. Only the houses of important people would have this kind of decoration.

In each house, you can find the “guinea pig cage”. It is common to this day for Andean families to raise guinea pigs for their meat (which is not much) and the proteins. They are easy to keep and not much work. In addition, the “batan”, a stone to grind seeds and corn, can be seen.

Another curiosity is that each house contains the tomb of an ancestor. This seems strange to us, but not to the Chachapoya culture.

The corpse of the deceased would first be buried in the soil until the flesh deteriorated. Thereafter, the Chachapoya arranged the bones into a fetal position then placed them in a cotton bag. This little bundle would then be kept in a hole in the family’s house.

Like this, the deceased would always remain close to the family.

This and many more interesting stories are part of the guide’s speech when you visit Kuelap. As of the beginning of 2017, the cable car up to Kuelap should be operating which will significantly shorten your travel time.

From Chachapoyas, the capital of the Amazonas, to Kuelap is currently a 2 and ½ hour drive. From the parking station La Malca (where you also pay your entrance fee of S/ 20 per person), you walk an easy hike of about 2 km up to the walls of Kuelap.

The guided visit costs S/ 40 per group and takes around 2 hours. It is absolutely recommend to take a guide.