Chachapoyas is surprisingly low-key on the Peruvian hostel circuit, but has a real wealth of archeological ruins and natural beauty to rival places firmly fixed on the gringo trail further south in the country. Chachapoyas hostels and guesthouses can be found dotted around the pretty central plaza. Backpackers are served by a couple of decent, cheap places with good facilities.
The town is a great base for visiting the gems a little further afield, including the pre-Inca ruins of Kuelap -- an impressive walled hilltop of roundhouses that was home to the Chachapoyans or "The People of the Clouds." Some other remarkable sites include the sarcophagi (resembling people), which are built into the cliff face at Karajia and the lofty mountain tombs in Revash. The small museum at Leymebamba houses a large array of mummies positioned with recoiling and contorted faces, discovered in similar tombs at the Laguna de los Condores.
There are other lakes and waterfalls, too, which can be reached by tours or -- in some cases -- independently by collective taxi or hiking. The Gocta waterfall (which is more than seven hundred meters high) is accessible by tour or minibus, though in both cases there is a several-hour walk to reach the falls.
Chachapoyas has a pleasant, small centre with a few good bars and restaurants, plus a market selling fresh produce. Owing to its lack of airport -- the nearest one is around a twelve-hour bus ride away in Cajamarca -- the alternative options for visiting Chachapoyas are limited to long bus rides from Lima, Trujillo, or Chiclaylo. If heading to or from Ecuador through Vilcabamba, then it’s worth contemplating the long-winded, and slightly convoluted, but very worthwhile bumpy ride via San Ignacio.
Hi, I'm Laura T,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Chachapoyas hostels. Welcome.