The North Coast and Northern Highlands: Places to Explore

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Chachapoyas

At the ceja de la selva (jungle's eyebrow), Chachapoyas is the capital of Peru's Amazonas department. The town is a good jumping-off point for exploring some of Peru's most fascinating and least-visited pre-Inca ruins. The giant fortress at Kuélap, the Gocta waterfall, the Karajia sarcophagi, and the ruins of Purunllacta and Gran Vilaya are nearby. Despite the Amazonas moniker, there's nothing junglelike about the area around Chachapoyas. The surrounding green highlands constitute what most people would call a highland cloud forest. Farther east, in the region of Loreto (won by Peru in the 1942 border dispute with Ecuador), you'll find true jungle.

Chachapoyas is a sleepy little town of 20,000. It has a well-preserved colonial center and one small archaeological museum. Chachapoyas—difficult to reach because of the poor roads through the mountains—is most easily accessed from Chiclayo. Infrequent flights arrive here from Lima as well.

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