We had decided to come to Chachapoyas because of the pre-Inca ruins that lie nearby, which cover an area only matched by Machu Picchu
. However having researched the area on wikitravel Kevin also found out that there are some quite impressive waterfalls in the area as well. Therefore we decided to stay for 2 days and do 2 days trips – give us a break between our amazon travel and our epic bus travel down to Puno which is next! Firstly we went to Gocta, ….(stats)…. It's about an hour drive or less from Chacha and then a 2 hour, relatively easy, hike from the town to the falls. The falls were really impressive and you felt the mist coming off them from a decent distance away – and got very wet when standing right at the base!! Our driver told us that they were only flowing at 20% being the dry season so I imagine in the wet you can get nowhere near!! The next day we went to Kuelap, the pre-Inca settlement 2.5 hours away from Chacha. We did this in a tour with a Spanish guide and although we only got bits and pieces of the explanation the ruins speak for themselves in many ways. What it lacks compared to Machu Picchu is a vantage point to get an overview of the whole place, but otherwise the site is just as interesting (possibly lacking in archaeological information as it hasn’t been researched so much) with stunning views over the surrounding mountains and many impressive structures. Anyone with the time to head to Chacha, a mere 22 hours on the bus from Lima!, should definitely add it to their itinerary. At the moment it has the infrastructure for tourism but a lack of numbers that makes you feel like you have discovered something. Even Chacha itself is worth a visit, which has a main plaza that reminded me of Cusco and made me feel a little nostalgic for a place I had loved so much.
A little disappointed at not having another day on the boat, and cursing our luck with efficient transport (!) we arrived into Yurimaguas in horrible weather and were so impressed with the place we went straight to the bus terminal and got a bus to the next town, Tarapoto. Our plan was to try and make it to Chachapoyas in a day although we knew we were cutting it fine as there was still quite a way to go. Luck still with us though, ignoring the fact that Kevin nearly signed us up for a bus without haggling or looking around, we managed to get ourselves onto a bus that was already pulling away – no waiting and cheaper! After getting a colectivo from Pedro Ruiz where the bus dropped us we finally arrived into Chachapoyas 12 hours after arriving in Yurimaguas. We were well and truly away from the amazon (despite being in the administration town of the amazon region), in an Andean town with a Plaza de Armas and a much cooler climate!