By far the biggest and best preserved site in the whole Chachapoyas area is the ancient city of Kuélap, perched high on a mountaintop with commanding views on all sides. It’s quite an effort to reach the ruins, at the end of a very bumpy, windy gravel road, and absolutely worthwhile.

perimeter wall 640x480 kuelap grand entrance 360x480

I spend about three hours wandering around, at first in awe of the massive perimeter wall, then the tiny detail on the house buildings. Excavation and restoration work is still underway and it’s especially cool to see the sections that have been restored alongside the original decaying ruins.

work on the wall 360x480 small house 640x480

All the employees are extremely friendly and happy to chat about anything and everything. It’s obvious they are very proud of the city and the work being done there, and rightly so. I wind up having lunch with a bunch of the workers and it’s really interesting to see more of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. About 10 ladies are painstakingly cleaning, sorting, labeling and boxing everything unearthed, from tiny fragments of pottery to entire human skulls.

restoration everywhere 640x480 mountain setting 360x480

After I’ve climbed under, over and around everything in site I camp in the parking lot, a grassy area high on the mountainside where I watch both sunset and sunrise – beautiful.

snakes 640x480 lots of houses 360x480


4 Responses

  1. Juliette says:

    Pretty amazing. The last picture is my favorite. Looks as if you’re having good weather, and a good time. I admire your adventure and ability to befriend anyone anywhere.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  2. jon says:


    This looks amazing.. I never met you but heard a lot about you. I used to volunteer and work at the secret garden in Quito.. Just wanted to let you know that I met two people from England.. Oliver? Who met you at Cotopaxi and had nothing but great things to say about you.. Hope the trip keeps getting better!


    • Dan says:

      Hey Jon,

      Great to hear from you man, Cotopaxi is a pretty special place – it’s cool you got to spend time there too :)
      Enjoy your travels too!


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