The Biggest Fortress in Peru
Contrary to popular belief, Machu Pichu is not the biggest stone structure in the country. In fact, the biggest stone structure is located on the opposite side of the country altogether! That structure is the massive fortress of Kuelap. You’ll probably have arrived first the wonderful city of Chachapoyas, a name shared by the ancient inhabitants who also constructed Kuelap. From your hostel in Chachapoyas, you can hire a taxi or go with one of the many, many tour operators who offer service to the fortress. The tourist office is located right on the corner of Independence Square, and you can get all your info there.
If you don’t reserve a trip with one of the tour operators, you could always go early in the morning to the far northeast corner of the plaza, where many drivers yell out their price to Kuelap. Remember to take some food and water with you, because the pickings are slim once you’re at the fortress.
Read more: Is Chachapoyas in the Jungle?
The road up to the fort’s perch is long and winding. The landscape gives you the feeling of immensity, and the near-vertical drops that arrive right up to the road are damningly frightening. Perhaps your driver will stop and share some coca leaves with you on the way!
When you get to the fortress entrance, there’s a small hut where you pay, and a several locals offering horseback rides to the entrance. The ticket to get in will cost 12 sols, or 6 if you have a student card.
Read more: The Fortress of Kuelap – Chachapoyas
You’ll walk for about 30 minutes up a hill to get to the fortress. There, llamas graze at the base of the towering yellowish walls. The thing is HUGE. You have to spend another 10 minutes just to circle the thing to the entrance.
You’ll simply melt at the views from up on top of the fortress. It is a vast complex that was inhabited as a fortified city by the Chachapoyas people. You’ll want to catch your breath before spending the hour or so it takes to see the whole thing.
As you’re a die-hard backpacker, perhaps you will have opted to hike the several hours it takes up the footpath from the town below. Your reward will be spell-binding!