Peru Destinations – Kuelap – The City Amongst Clouds
Known as the “Peruvian Babel Tower”, Kuelap is an ancient stone fortress discovered in 1843 which is currently being restored to provide easier access for the mainstream traveler. This citadel was strategically built by the Chachapoyas or Cloud People on a mountaintop whose western flank is an imposing precipice.
The Kuelap Fortress, built by the Chachapoyas to fight against the Inca expansion and the Spanish invasion, includes 485 structures surrounded by a stone wall that is higher than the Great Wall of China.
Located in northeastern Peru in the Amazonas region, 72 km (44 miles) from the city of Chachapoyas, the regional capital, Kuelap is an ancient stone fortress built strategically on a mountaintop looking out over the Utcubamba Valley.
It was built around the 9th century by the pre-Inca culture of Chachapoyas, in difficult terrain of the cloud forest. The citadel covers and area of around 6 hectares (14 acres) with some 420 circular buildings that include a watchtower and castle. The defense walls are very impressive, reaching 25 meters (82 feet) in height, with three points of access shaped like funnels, so that only one person can enter at a time.
Kuelap includes an area for camping that provides spectacular views.
The region’s attractions include Leymebamba, where there is a community museum that exhibits valuable remains of the Chachapoyas culture. There is also a fascinating trail (15 hours by mule) to the mysterious Laguna de los Condores (also called Lake of the Mummies), where a series of pre-Inca mausoleums stand high above the shore. Some 48 km (5 hours by mule) northwest of Chachapoyas is the village of Shipata (2,760 meters / 9,052 feet) and the impressive vertical tombs of Karajia perched on the rockface facing the valley of Juscubamba.