Kuélap, Peru - City of the Cloud Warriors

Available to Club Members Only.

Kuélap, a walled settlement nestled on a mountaintop, is one of the most impressive and significant pre-Columbian ruins in all of South America, perhaps only matched in grandeur by Machu Picchu. It was a political center for the pre-Inca society known as Chachapoyas, who flourished from 900 CE to 1400 CE. Our 4-day sample itinerary will take you through this ancient settlement, as well as a fascinating visit to the Sarcophagi of Karajía and the Quiocta Caverns. *Prices in your Cart are listed in CAD.


  • Discover Kuélap, a pre-Inca residential complex built between 1100 and 1300 A.D., in a new, breathtaking and accessible way - via cable car! 
  • Explore the history and complex culture of the Chachapoyas people through a 2-hour guided tour of Kuélap. 
  • Hike to the Sarcophagi of Karajía, a striking set of burials discovered in 1985. 
  • Embark on a cave excursion in the Quiocta Caverns, used for ceremonial burial sites in an extensive cave network 2793 meters above sea level.

4 Day Itinerary (may be modified)

Day 1


Your trip begins at the Chachopoyas airport, where you will be met by your guides and transferred to your hotel. There are daily flights to Chachopoyas available from Lima, or road transfer options from Chiclayo (9 hours). It is here at this hotel where you will be spending 3 nights of accommodation.

Day 2


Rise and shine! Early in the morning, we’ll take a 1-hour bus ride to Tingo village. Along the route, we’ll be making brief stops in picturesque towns of Nuevo Tingo, Choctamal, and Longuita. The Macro Archaeological Complex is located 8 kilometers from the main road of the Utcubamba valley by car and about 8 kilometers on foot with an easy access road. This pre-Inca residential complex, built between 1100 and 1300 A.D, is a fascinating testament to the ancient Chachapoyas civilization. It features well-preserved adobe pyramids and intricate murals that offer insights into the rich history and culture of this pre-Columbian society.

There is a newly built Kuélap cable car that takes visitors up the mountainside on a 20-minute ride to the Fortress of Kuélap. The city has 3 entrances, with the main entrance being the most fascinating - trapezoid shaped and narrowing until it allows for the passage of only one person at a time. Our 2-hour tour of Kuélap with our local guide illuminates the unique history and culture of the Chachapoyas people. The walk includes stops along the external wall, the main temple, and the tower, and gives plenty of time for exploring the north, central and south sectors of this pre-Inca city. We’ll have the option of return by cable car, or hiking from Kuélap to Utcubamba Valley along a 9.8-kilometer (5.5 mile) trail. The descent altitude drop is about 1,200 meters (3,940 feet) - although it is easy terrain, it can be tiring due to the distance.

Day 3

The Sarcophagi of Karajía | The Quiocta Caverns

After breakfast, we’ll drive to Utcubamba and cross into the neighboring Province of Luya. From the village of Luya, we’ll continue to the village of Cruz Pata, where a short 3 kilometre/45-minute hike will take us to the Sarcophagi of Karajía. After their death, the Chachapoya buried people of importance higher up in difficult to access locations; always looking towards the rising sun or a village, and always close to water. The striking burials (see photos below) were discovered in 1985 by the Peruvian archaeologist Federico Kauffmann Doig in the Karajía ravine. The seven sarcophagi bury each of the mummified bodies individually, in a fetal position, wrapped in cotton blankets and facing forward. It’s thought that the Sarcophagi of Karajía contained the highest officials from the fortress of Kuélap. There are also less elaborate, smaller sarcophagi (containing lesser dignitaries) in the area, along with numerous other ruins.

After taking photos of the Sarcophagi, we’ll continue on our way to the Quiocta Caverns. The Quiocta Caverns are a system of spacious caves located 2793 meters above sea level. The caverns stretch a total length of 600 meters, boasting ancient cave paintings and remains of ceramics, utensils, and bones on the cave floor and in small grooves in the walls. In the ancient times, the Quiocta Caverns were used as ceremonial burial sites - so you’ll also witness ancient skulls and bones. We cannot miss the presence of a large colony of bats - they of course react to the light of our lamps, some passing awfully close to our ears. After our cave excursion, we will return to the city of Chachapoyas.

Day 4


We’ll enjoy our final delicious breakfast, and depart Chachopoyas for our next adventure.


  • All drives to and from destinations
  • English-speaking tour guides
  • Entrance fees for all tours
  • Meals according to the itinerary.


  • Drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tips to guides and to the staff
  • Travel insurance


  • Passport (bring additional photocopies)
  • A daypack for personal items (to be carried personally)
  • Warm clothing
  • Rain jacket
  • Long sleeved shirts (cotton)
  • Shorts for walking (optional).
  • Cap and sunglasses
  • Sun block
  • Binoculars for birdwatching & wildlife viewing enthusiasts