Kuélap or Cuélap or Fortaleza de Kuelap is a walled city built by Chachapoyas culture in the 6th century at a 3,000-meter high mountain peak overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in Tingo District, Luya Province, Amazonas Region, Peru. The site on the limestone cliffs on the left bank of Utcubamba River is surrounded by cloud forest with various trees, orchids and epiphytes.

Settlements on the site began in the 5th century, but most of the structures were built in 900 AD to 1100 AD. Chachapoyas is one of the many countries ruled by the Incas, though it is difficult to develop because of the constant resistance to the Inca Empire troops.

Xvlor Kuelap

Xvlor.com Kuélap

Chachapoyas or "Warriors of the Clouds" is an Andean culture that lived in the cloud forest and was conquered by the Inca Empire shortly before the Spanish conquest of the 16th century. The city probably has about 300,000 inhabitants and was abandoned in 1570, getting worse after being covered by tree roots.

Kuélap has a protected zone covering an area of 2.18 sq kilometers (218.33 ha) and a 6.10 sq kilometer (609.67 ha) buffer zone to protect about 12 archaeological sites and Kuélap's main sites. The walled settlement built in north-south orientation has a length of 584 meters and a width of 110 meters which forms an area of 6 hectares.

The walls are 10 meters to 20 meters tall with bricks of finely chalked limestone blocks and some blocks may weigh 3 tons. The city has 3 entrances where the main door has a trapezoidal shape and may have an increasingly narrow corbel curve until it is possible to pass one person.

Over 550 circular structures on site and only foundations or walls remaining. Some walls have friezes of rhomboid shape up to zig-zag. El Tintero or the Templo Major in the southwest is a 5.5 meter high structure that has an inverted cone shape and ceremonial archeology used as a solar observatory.

Pueblo Alto in the northwest is a 11.5 meter high wall that is accessed by two narrow entrances. To the north is the Torreón form of structure up to 7 meters and may be used for defense purposes where many found stone weapons.

Many burials are found on the walls and inside of circular structures and have reliefs with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometric designs of rock-built water channels to supply water to settlements from mountain springs.

Location: Tingo District, Luya Province, Amazonas Region, Peru.

Routes and public transport: At least four ways to go to Kuelap's site:
  • Flights to Jaén Airport in Jaén City, then take a taxi to Bagua Grande for 1 hour, to Chachapoyas for 2.5 hours and to Nuevo Tingo.
  • Flights to Cad. FAP Guillermo del Castillo Paredes Airport in Tarapoto City, then use the bus to Chachapoyas for 6 hours and taxi to Nuevo Tingo.
  • Flights to FAP Captain José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzáles International Airport in Chiclayo City, then use the bus to Chachapoyas for 9 hours and taxi to Nuevo Tingo.
  • Flights to Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima City, then use the bus to Chachapoyas for 23 hours and taxi to Nuevo Tingo.

The site can be accessed by cable car at the departure station located 10 minutes from Nuevo Tingo. The station will have administration and service areas, lifts for disabled people, cafeterias, souvenir shops, parking lots and dormitory areas for buses. This cable car hiked as far as 4 kilometers in 20 minutes.

www.xvlor.com Kuelap

Xvlor Kuélap

Advice: Kuélap is located on the edge of the very rainy Amazon. May and September is the warmest time with a temperature of 13C - 22C.

Kuelap is considered the most representative and important site of the cultural tradition known as Chachapoya. The most important sectors of the Kuelap Archaeological Complex are the Fortress, Pampa Linda, El Imperio, El Lirio, San José, Las Américas, La Malca, La Barreta and La Petaca.