For my last week in Peru, I made my way up to Chachapoyas. Chachapoyas is supposed to be a quaint little town where the jungle meets the mountains, with lots of hiking and ruins to see. So I left Steve at the airport in Lima. He was flying home and I flew to Cajamarca, where I would take the bus to Chachapoyas the next day.
From what I could find, Virgen del Carmen is the only bus company that goes to Chachapoyas from Cajamarca. The 12 hour ride was pretty affordable, costing about $15 one-way. However, that 12 hour ride included 6-7 hours of driving around mountains very close to the edge. I’ve always liked roller coasters so I just put my hands up and pretended I was at Dollywood. I also may have prayed…
(There’s a cliff edge at the bottom there. But what a view!)
In Chachapoyas, I reserved 5 nights at Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostel, where you can get a private room for $10/night. A solid deal. The hostel was clean and the staff was so helpful. There are so many things to do in the area and the staff would book tours for you at cost.
(All the sights to see around Chachapoyas!)
The next day I booked a hiking trip to see the Gotca Waterfalls. At over 770 meters total, these are the third tallest falls in the world. The hike was supposed to be about 10 miles but ended up closer to 15. It rained a lot – as it can do in the jungle – and there was a lot of steep downhill. This made the hike a little torturous on the knees but the falls were totally worth all of it. They were stunning.
The next day I decided to take a rest day, I hadn’t had a rest day in a while so I just spent some time enjoying the little town. They have a vegetarian restaurant called Nature’s Center where you can find good inexpensive vegetarian/vegan food and so I ate there often. It’s nice to go somewhere and order vegetable soup and know you’re not going to get chicken broth. I’ve learned this the hard way – don’t ask any more questions.
(Plaza de Armas – Chachapoyas)
On Friday, I went to the famous ruins of Kuelap. These ruins date back prior to the Incas and Machu Picchu and they are so well preserved. The area is on top of a mountain surrounded by clouds. The view was really beautiful. The Kuelap tribes built their structures circular in order to withstand earthquakes better. I thought this was interesting and I’m really fascinated by ancient engineering!
I spent another few days enjoying sweet Chachapoyas, including going to hear a local hippie band sing about Pachamama (Mother Earth) – it was awesome. I’d love to come back to Chachapoyas and spend more time exploring more of the area.
The way back included another 12 hour roller coaster bus ride. This time the trip was overnight. I just slept, hoping I would wake up in Cajamarca the next day. I did. After missing my flight to Lima that morning, I was grateful to be put on another flight that afternoon. I spent a night in the Lima airport for my flight to Santiago, Chile.
Peru was amazing. A beautiful and diverse landscape with interesting history and people. As a vegan, South America (well, at least Peru) is a little tough. Seeing the meat in the open market and options like fried Guinea pig on the menus didn’t make it easy. I was able to find food tho.
Also, as someone who also loves conservation, Peru had me questioning a bit. There were recycling bins nearly everywhere, but also a lot of trash in the streets. It was a bit of a duality that still perplexes me. But all in all, I greatly enjoyed my time in Peru and look forward to going back in the future. Perhaps for a redo of the Santa Cruz!
On to Chile!