Exploring northern Peru

Follow in the footsteps of an explorer and explore northern Peru. Peru has more to offer than just Machu Picchu!

Exploring northern Peru

Follow in the footsteps of an explorer and explore northern Peru. Peru has more to offer than just Machu Picchu!

Exploring northern Peru

Follow in the footsteps of an explorer and explore northern Peru. Peru has more to offer than just Machu Picchu!

Ceviche, Pisco Sour, art galleries and colonial past

Lima, what a great city it is. Located on the Pacific Ocean, the Peruvian capital offers everything a traveler wants. Barranco is without a doubt my favorite district: art galleries, cozy squares, nice restaurants, a relaxed atmosphere and not to mention the absolute topper among the accommodations: Hotel B. Lovely to stay in this hip, artistic hotel again; a real hit. A few minutes’ walk from the extravagant Ayahuasca bar and near cala restaurant, where it is enjoyable by the national grape liqueur Pisco Sour and ceviche, lime-cooked raw fish dish. There is no shortage of culinary delights in Lima; Restaurant Central, Maido and Astrid y Gaston are among the absolute top of the world!

In the historic centre of Lima is the lovely strolling over the Plaza de Armas,past the cathedral to the San Francisco square with the monastery of the same name. In the Pueblo Libre district lies the interesting Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, with its pleasant flower garden an oasis of calm. Tens of thousands of art treasures have been exhibited in the museum, including a large collection of ceramics from ancient cultures. Not only the well-known Incas, but also the Chimu, Moche and Chachapoyas culture from northern Peru are well covered. In short, an ideal introduction for the continuation of the trip.

Authentic Cajamarca

During the flight of about 1 1/4 hours to Cajamarca I enjoy the snowy mountains of the Cordillera Blanca and the Huascaran, with its 6768 meters the highest peak of the country.

I often visited southern Peru with its famous highlights: the condors in the Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, the ancient Inca capital Cuzco and of course Machu Picchu. But now finally the north of Peru that has been on my wish list for years. Arriving in Cajamarca I stayed overnight in a hotel on the Plaza de Armas, next to the cathedral.
The sights in this authentic provincial town are all within walking distance. It was in Cajamarca where the Spanish conquistador Pizarro ambushed and captured the last Inca emperor Atahualpa. Although Atahualpa agreed to deliver a room full of gold and silver to Pizarro as a ransom, he was still sentenced to death: “Civilization” had begun. It gives a special feeling to be in this room. On the way back to the hotel I end up in a procession. Under trumpet and rumbling, a Statue of Mary is carried into the church.

The Road to the Clouds People

What a fantastic route! An almost 10-hour trek takes me from Cajamarca to Chachapoyas along beautiful rugged landscapes. Not for a moment am I bored. Mountain passes and valleys follow each other. A spontaneous stop introduces me to the hospitality of an Indian family who enthusiastically shows off their farm. Just down the road I visit perhaps the most beautiful market in Peru. The cattle market on a large unpaved square in Celendin is second to none. Especially the costumes and the high felt hats are impressive. On the 3600 meter high Calla Calla pass I end up in the fog; Clearly, I’m approaching the area of the Chachapoyas, the Cloud People. The people who lived here over a thousand years ago and left impressive traces.

Kuélap, the ‘Machu Picchu of the North’

The ultimate highlight of Chachapoyas culture is the archaeological site Kuélap,hidden in the cloud forest. A mystical fortress with defensive walls of up to twenty meters high and eight meters thick, located on a strategic ridge high above the Utcubamba Valley. Wandering around the cylindrical ruins, lookouts and sacrificial places, I marvel at the tranquility that prevails here. What a difference from the overcrowded Machu Picchu. Except for a small group of Peruvian tourists I have the complex for me alone. Machu Picchu is flooded daily with about 3000 tourists a day, in Kuélap there are no more than 80!
If it is up to the Peruvian government, this will change quickly. It is expected that the construction of a four-kilometre cable car will lead to rising visitor numbers. No doubt spectacular views, but just give me the 1.5-hour adventure mountain ride to get tothe ‘Machu Picchu of the North’!

Mysterious Gocta – magical…

La Catarata de Gocta. I can’t believe this second highest waterfall in the world was only ‘discovered’ in 2002. Known to locals for centuries, but stories of hanging demons, sirens and ghosts made them prefer not to get too close to the waterfall. It was the brave Telesforo who dared 14 years ago to show the German geographer Ziemendorff the way to the 771 meter high waterfall. Accompanied by Indian villagers I reach this imposing location by horse and partly on foot. Unfortunately, the bright orange colored Rotshaan (the ‘Cock of the Rock’) does not show itself. The guide is to my great surprise Telesforo himself. What an experience to hear this adorable older man tell one legend after another, like young men who were lured to the waterfall by the sirens and never seen again.
Needless to mention, it is an unforgettable experience to stand in this magical place. Gocta: what an overwhelming natural phenomenon! And again: no tourists!

Pristine jungle along the Rio Huallaga

After hours of delay in Chachapoyas, I finally arrive in a small ‘9-seater’ plane in Tarapoto. Maybe next time you can choose the 8 hour drive by car that also goes over the beautiful Abra Patricia mountain pass…? Tarapoto is the base for visiting the Amazon jungle. After the fresh Andes it is getting used to the tropical temperatures. I stay at the lovely Pumarinri Lodge,located on the Rio Huallaga. What a great view of the river and what a cacophony of sounds caused by the singing of tropical birds, howler monkeys and insects. There are wonderful boat trips and walks to make.
A must is a visit to a jungle village where people have switched from growing coca leaves to cocoa. The enthusiasm of the local women impressed me a lot. Also at Gaston Acuri, from the famous restaurant ‘Astrid y Gaston‘ in Lima which is now working with this cooperative; of course the cut-out newspaper articles hang on the wall!

Surprisingly Islas Palomino

Before flying from Lima comfortably with KLM with a direct flight to Amsterdam, I make a surprising tour to the Islas Palomino. These islands are located right off the coast of Callao where lima’s international airport is located. Penguins and thousands of sea lions populate the rocky archipelago. The special thing is that it is the only place in Peru where you can swim together with the sea lions! Great experience and super close to my peru tour!

A visit to Cajamarca, Chachapoyas and Tarapoto is excellent to combine with the Moche and Chimu culture around Trujillo and Chiclayo not to mention the tropical beaches at Mancora.

Robert Evers

After studying business economics, I first embarked on a long journey through South America in 1996. Since then, I've been caught by the travel virus and I've been designing beautiful, original itineraries in Latin America for years now. In 2014, I joined the team at Untamed Travelling where my passion for Latin America made me feel at home immediately. So I can enjoy putting together and advising beautiful journeys, using my extensive travel experience. My favorite destinations are the Andean countries of Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. I regularly return there to enjoy the beautiful nature, colorful indigenous festivals and colonial architecture.

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