Pedro Ruiz

There is not much to be said about this town. In order to reach Tarapoto from Chachapoyas you have to go to Pedro Ruiz and catch a bus there as no direct buses are available

The cheapest way to go happens to be the most comfortable one as well. CIVA buses going to Chiclayo leave at around 6 PM every day and charge 7 soles to Pedro Ruiz. Mine left at 7 PM but you know how it is. If you are average or a little tall you will appreciate the extra leg room. There are also cars -like taxis- that charge 15 soles and leave when they are full.

CIVA buses leave you in an intersection with the main highway from the coast to Tarapoto. You have to wait there until a bus arrives and stops to pick passengers. Don’t listen to the car drivers that wait there, they told me that “the only” way to reach Tarapoto was from Nueva Cajamarca, so I had to take a ride with them to there and they asked 30 soles. A complete lie.

I just waited less than 45 minutes and got a bus -also from CIVA- that charged me 35 soles to Tarapoto.

Got a seat by a window and slept a bit of the way.


Still in Chachapoyas

After the Kuelap descent my legs were begging for mercy. So I stayed one day in the comfort of my hotel just chilling out and enjoying the day. The next day we got heavy rain -good we didn’t go anywhere.

Taking with the owner it turned out he needed to translate the text of his web page-to-be to English. So we made a deal, and got another tour and lodging in exchange for that translation.

Nice heh?

We left early for the tour this time and saw this bridge in the way. It connects Luya, Lamúd and other villages with Chachapoyas and the rest of the world. After crossing by foot to the other side another ride was waiting for us.

broken bridge

It so happens that those cabs were stuck in there. Imagine this, you go someplace and you’re stuck there as there no longer is a bridge to let your vehicle come back. That is their exact situation.

Ok, a little later we reached Lamúd to have breakfast and then continue to our destination. A little walk in a beautiful countryside leads to the site.

Path to Karaj�a site

Karajía is a site with sarcophaguses standing in a very steep cliff side. It makes you wonder why did they choose that location and how do they manage to put the sarcophaguses in there.

Karaj�a Sarcophaguses

They must’ve revered isolation, panoramic views and a wild scenery. So do I.

Later we went to lunch to an unpronounceable town and to part ways with the Germans. Yesterday afternoon I met a group of Germans who were starting a 4 day trek around many of the local sites. We had a few beers and made good friends and I was invited to trek with them by the guide as well. I wanted to go, but hell, my legs remembered me I am not in such a good condition now. OK, we said wiedersehen in Iquitos and a couple of Czechs and me continued our ride to the Town of the Dead while they headed for the Huaylla Belén valley and 4 days more of trekking.

Getting to the Town of the Dead takes a larger and steeper descent by foot than to Karajía along a path in what seems to be a beautiful wild garden. Really. On the way you can see the Gocta Waterfall in front. Light didn’t really help. Gocta is the third tallest free-leaping waterfall in the world with 771 m.

Gocta, from the opposite mountain side

Not much is known of this site; there were mummies and artifacts, most of which have been raided already. But the place is amazing with a view overlooking a deep valley all green and mostly inaccessible. Made me think how wonderful for having a terrace, seating with a drink and enjoying the silence.

Town of the Dead

It’s a real pity that no books on Kuelap are available in Chachapoyas city. In any language.

Back in my hotel I rested my tired bones after a long hot shower. And woke up at midnight to go out and have a taste of this city nightlife.

Met a coupe of local guys at the disco who showed me around driving a bit drunk -them, not me- in the empty city streets. Great fun. Chachapoyan girls are kind, with a great cinnamont skin color and a lovely accent.

Living recklessly is great.

listening Roxette It must’ve been love


We arrived around 2:30 AM to the bus stop which was the middle of a street. After I got my pack and saw all people from the bus leaving hurriedly in the first cab available and watching the surroundings looking pretty much like a shanty town at night, I thought of getting a place asap. Chachapoyas may be a safe place or not but who wants to take risks in an unknown street at night in a town you don´t know.

So I got to the closest hotel. Yenny.

Cheap, with a good lock in the door, enough to wait for the morning. The room actually left a lot to be desired, there was something like blood in one of the walls and the beds had a single sheet on top of the mattress and that was it. You also had the wool-like blankets, that I was sure wouldn’t be washed and changed for each guest.

I missed my sleeping bag.

For s/10 ($3.85 aprox.) I stayed there until daylight arrived. On the plus side, the guy was very kind, and in spite of being the early morning answered all my questions and gave me some advice about transportation, the city, the state of the roads…

Well, the morning arrived and got out to check the town, have breakfast and check what to do. Daylight didn’t help making the room look any nicer.

Passed along the market; lots of fruits to see and taste so I had a mixed fruits juice -“surtido”- for s/ 0.80, then I got to the main square; not much opened as it was around 8 AM. Some tour operator agencies were opened but nobody there to ask or answer questions. Bizarre.

Finally I got to a place that offered many tours and also treks. Interesting. The place was also beautiful, an old house with central garden and balcony surrounding it. The owner had many treks -well, part walking and part on mini bus- and also one day visits; he explained to me all the many places to visit and the options for doing it, with pictures and maps. As I have climbed and trekked in the Cordillera Blanca I could notice he answered some very specific questions first hand. Easily he is one of the most knowledgeable guys in adventure trips here.

After talking to him, watching the pictures you begin to wonder why this area is not the second Macchu Picchu. Seriously. There is so much to be seen, places so great as Kuelap -in spite of not being fully cleaned up-. Of course all the services you find in Cuzco, like the many restaurants, discos, and night life in general didn’t appear after one night. But with some promotion, and planned services this could be a really great tourist destination. I mean it is, but it is just not known.

He also made me notice that the place was a hostel as well. And offered me a deal in a single room with private bathroom. A good deal.

All I got to say after getting into the room was.. wow.

This room compared to the other was like day and night. The house is beautiful, with wooden logs on top of the white ceiling, all furniture in wood, rustic style. A clean bathroom with plenty of hot water, a small TV with cable for the slow rainy afternoons and a window with a view. It felt like a goddess was smiling to me. And they accepted my credit card.

Got the room and booked the Kuelap tour. We’ll see about Gocta later.

Exchange rate – 2.60 soles per dollar.
Revash hotel – facing the main square. 45 soles a single room. Ask and you may get a deal, particularly if it is the low season or things are slow.
Tours to Kuelpa, Gocta, Karajia, etc are around 65 soles.
Many treks possible, ask in Revash hotel.

Chachapoyas and Kuelap area

map from Mincetur