Perched on a mountaintop, the pre-Inca fortress, in Peru’s little visited northern cloudforest, is regarded by some as no less spectacular than Machu Picchu.
The cable car is due to begin running in July 2016 and will allow visitors to replace a hair-raising 90 minute bus ride with a spectacular and leisurely 20 minute journey.
With such rugged terrain, it may come as a surprise to learn that Peru does not have a single cable car. But that is due to change in July, with the inauguration of a $18 million state-of-the-art system to take visitors to Kuélap, a vast pre-Inca fort on a misty, forested mountaintop in the Chachapoyas region of northern Peru. Although often compared in size and beauty to Machu Picchu, Kuélap, like the area around it, receives just a tiny fraction of the number of visitors of its world-famous Inca cousin. Yet that may be about to change now.
Being built by a Franco-Peruvian consortium, the cable car will take passengers on a four kilometer ride, with nearly 700 meters of vertical gain, from the valley floor up to the base of Kuelap, with its imposing stone walls some 20 meters high and 600 meters long. The journey will give travelers jaw-dropping views of the valley below Kuélap as well as the fortress itself. Just as importantly, it will take 20 minutes and provide far more secure access than the current 90-minute drive up steep switchbacks. It is hoped that the cable car will attract more tourists to the area, allowing locals to share in the related opportunities for economic development and, perhaps, easing the pressure on Machu Picchu.
Although Kuélap may lose some of its atmosphere of idyllic tranquility, it will surely also be good news that more visitors get to enjoy its beauty and discover the wonders of the ancient Chachapoyas civilization that created it. A warlike people, who did not use writing and were never fully subdued by the Incas, they left numerous stone constructions scattered across the rugged cloudforests of this picturesque corner of Peru, of which Kuélap is by far the greatest.
But if you make it here, you should also seek out some of the many smaller Chachapoyas ruins, including clusters of houses abandoned in the forests and the Chachapoyas people’s hallmark sarcophagi, usually placed precariously in small caves in the middle of Andean cliffs. You could also take the trek to the Lake of the Condors, once featured in National Geographic magazine, or visit the Gocta waterfalls, one of the highest in the world.
To visit Kuélap as part of your unique, individually tailored itinerary, contact the Peru Empire Company at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +51-1-700-5100 or, if you are in the US, 347-713-7030/34.