Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kuelap's unspoiled beauty

This is Mike...
We went to Kuelap and had one of those uniquely rare travel moments; to visit an unbelievable site with hardly any other people around. Kuelap is a massive complex on the peak of a mountain nearly 10,000 foot elevation (3000 meters). The drive getting to the fortress was precarious in many places and is nearly 40 kilometers up the mountain from the highway. Peru knows they have a gem here and is why they are planning on building an airport near Chachapoyas and develop this whole area for tourism. If you ever wanted to experience spectacular ruins and other wonderful sites without hoards of people, this is time before all the development. As with the other indigenous temples or fortresses we've visited on our journey, you leave with far more questions than when you arrived. Elise and I both wish we could have stayed longer in the Kuelap ruins. The ruins were grand, peaceful, and had wild llamas wandering around as a bonus for the kids. What is there not to like? Some people call Kuelap the second Machu Picchu. We have not been to Machu Picchu yet but we can tell you from our initial experiences with M.P. it requires buying tickets weeks in advance and dealing with all the scheduling B.S. of a bureaucracy. This place, however, is off-the-beaten track and still one of those special tranquil wonderful spots where one can get inspired all over again.
   We added extras photos for this entry to showcase this special place.
This is the "Real deal" when driving on these roads, no second chances.

You can barely see the hairline of a road in the distance which we drove getting up to Kuelap.

The fortress walls are well over 100 feet in some spots.

This was a massive construction with many of the stones coming from far away.

Perched at the top of a mountain with commanding views in all directions.

The colors of the mountains changed as the sun was setting in the horizon.

It was not just the huge walls they built but they also back-filled the structure and raised the interior elevation of the entire complex to the height of the exterior walls. The amount of stone and dirt moved was astonishing.

The girls posing with "Pedro" the dog outside the walled compound.

The complex is 600 meters (2000 feet) long and dwarfs any person walking the perimeter.

One of the entrances to the citadel

A wonder of human achievement.

In this image you can see a partial wall collapse exposing just how much back-fill was need to raise the interior elevation.

Exquisite masonry work but not to the exactitude of the Inca structures.

Looking down entrance 3 one can see markings in the stone where llamas wore trails

Here at the top of the entrance it is easy to see how much the elevation was raised.

Inside the fortress there were other structures and homes for the inhabitants.

Other worldly is a good description of this place.

This is on top of the structure. Without other tourists makes it a surreal experience.

How's this for a "Guard", keeping a watchful eye on this beautiful site.

Encounters with nature and history at its finest.

"Pedro" and the girls bonded quite nicely.

Mystical beauty from atop Kuelap.

So much work went into this structure that it defies comprehension.

Some of the more unstable walls are being supported by wood.

Entrances were purposely narrow to allow for easy defense from an invading army.

The site was user friendly but not wheel chair accessible.

A happy family equals a happy life.

I like ruins and historic places so this was a wonderland for me.

The interior was just as awe inspiring as the exterior.

About 30 feet behind Zoe is a 70 foot sheer drop off the exterior wall. We had to keep a sharp eye on the kids because of the elevation and potential for accidents.

A window with a view of the heavens.

One happy camper.

Elise and the girls carefully explored the edge of the compound just to see how high it was.

You can barely make out my daughter at the top of the stairs to the left. This is a great picture to demonstrate the proportions of the site.

Here again you can see the wall and the back fill material to raise the structure.

We all had fun up here and could easily recommend the site to anyone.

Bringing kids to such places is good for them, good for their spirit, and good for their happiness.

The little dinky road we drove for nearly 40 kilometers to get here.

A great adventure for a family.

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