Friday, September 26, 2008

Kuelap as impressive as Machu Picchu

While most people know about the Incas and Machu Picchu, relatively few have heard of the Chachapoya civilization or visited their domains, a swath of Amazon headlands and breathtaking cloud forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Kuelap, an impressive pre-Inca fortress, located in Peru’s northern Amazonas Department, is slowly uncovering its secrets and showing its majesty –rivaling Machu Picchu in scale and grandeur.

Kuelap –meaning “cold place” in the native language-- is located at four hours drive from Chiclayo (Lambayeque) at an altitude of 2945 meters above sea level (9,500 feet) on the misty realm of the cloud forest, between the towering Andean peaks and low lying Amazon plains, on the left bank of the Utcubamba River. Archaeologists working on this site have estimated that it was a stronghold of the Chachapoyas culture, sheltering up to 4,000 people, as they have found scores of skeletons and thousands of artifacts, shedding new light on one of the most remarkable and least understood of Peru’s pre-Columbian advanced civilizations.

This ancient citadel, dating back to the 8th Century, remained hidden from the outside world until 1843; it is gigantic, with over 400 million square feet of construction, three times the volume of Egypt’s Great Pyramid. The circular stone defense walls that surround it are over 20 meters (64 feet) high and have gargoyle-like stone carvings and stone missiles to repel invaders. It is believed that the inhabitants of Kuelap abandoned their city shortly before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors to the shores of Perú.

Kuelap, still covered in an aura of enigma and mystery, is rapidly becoming a major tourist attraction and you can know more about it and plan a trip by entering, where you will find suggested tours to Kuelap and all destinations in Peru.


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