Our trip from Ecuador to Peru was quite exhausting…
We had started our first of two days at 6 am in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. We coincidentally met up with a couple from Montreal Canada, Ariane and Jon, that we had met the day before. The four of us were all headed for the same border crossing into Peru. We opted for the less popular border crossing in La Balsa because it was closer to our first destination in Peru, Chachapoyas.
Our first mode of transportation was a 7 hour bus ride to Zumba Ecuador, then an open sided truck called Ranchero, for another 1.5 to La Balsa, Ecuador. We crossed very easily into Peru as we were the only ones. We took a Taxi from the border for another 1.5 to San Ignacio, Peru. After 12 hours of travel time, we had some beers and stayed the night in San Ignacio.
We woke up early the second day too and started with a tuk tuk ride to a colectivo, a 15 passenger van, to Jaen. Once we were in Jaen, we took another tuk tuk to a colectivo to Bagua Grande. Once there, we took our final colectivo to Chachapoyas. In total, the second day was 8-9 hours of travel.
Chachapoyas was a hub for some of the local attractions. We decided to visit two of them. The first was a trip to the pre-Inca civilization of the Chachapoyas people called Kuelap. It was quicker to get there if you booked it through a tour, so we did.
One the way to Kuelap we stopped at another pre-Inca civilization site that was build on the side of a mountain face. There were estimated to be about 200 people living on this cliff. Not sure how they did it or how they got from house to house.
Kuelap fortress was recently rediscovered in 2006 and is on top of a mountain at 9,842 ft high in the cloud forest.
It was originally built by the Chachapoyas people and was estimated to house anywhere from 2400-4000 people as it has 400 round house structures. To put it into comparison, Machu Picchu is estimated to house 200-300, if I remember correctly.
Kuelap was eventually invaded and taken over by the Inca and then several decades later, the Spanish and Chachapoyas people worked together to reclaim Kuelap Fortress. It was determined to be pre-Inca as all the structures are round and Incas always build things in squares. Here are many great pictures from the site.
The second attraction we decided to go see was the Gocta waterfall. The waterfall has two falls with a total height of 771 meters (2,530 ft). If you talk to the local tour guides, they’ll say it’s the third tallest in the world, but if you google it, it’s actually the 16th tallest. Still, pictures doesn’t do it justice, this is a tall waterfall.
It was a 3 mile hike through the Andes Mountains and through some farms near the village. This trail and some of the roads to the village were not there prior to 2005. Before these were created it was a 4-day trek to go see the waterfall. I’m glad these were constructed when we were visiting.
Overall the waterfall was very beautiful and a lot prettier than we thought it was going to be.