Jul 19, 7 years ago

Recently Discovered Ruins of Chachapoya

http://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/6202734212_4f1347c723_z.jpgRecently Discovered Ruins of Chachapoya

This is about as close to real-world Indian Jones adventures as it gets. The Chachapoya, known as the “People of the Clouds,” were an ancient, highly sophisticated civilization dating back to 750 A.D. that lived at over 3,000 meters in the Utcubamba Valley in what is currently the Amazonas region of northern Peru. Pre-Colombian ruins were discovered in the 1990s and major excavation began in 2001. The site is estimated to cover 65 square kilometers, making this one of the most exciting and relevant archaeological sites in the world.

It is thought that the Chachapoya people were briefly conquered by troops from the Incan Empire just before Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century. The complexity of the ruins demonstrate well organized government systems and ingenious engineering techniques.

In 1996, a cache of over 200 mummies was discovered in a cave, but gold-seeking looters unfortunately had beat researchers to the site and disturbed crucial evidence. Another burial cave was discovered 80 feet below the earth’s surface in late 2006.

CC Image used courtesy of clandestino_20 on Flickr

Beyond the historical significance of these ruins, the best part is that Chachapoya is off the map with respect to tourism. The vast majority of tourists exclusively visit southern Peru to see the Incan ruins, namely Machu Picchu and ruins of the Sacred Valley. While the north attracts a mere handful of adventure seekers and archeology enthusiasts, the location is off the tourist track. Although lacking formal infrastructure to manage tourism, the spattering of visitors is leading to slow growth of simple boarding houses and hostels. In many ways, this is the complete opposite to the tourist funnel created around Machu Picchu, yet, the secret is out. This year, National Geographic Traveler magazine chose Chachapoyas as one of their “50 tours of a Lifetime.”

Take a look at this government produced promotional video to get a better idea of the main archaeological sites and surrounding areas. Note the complete absence of tourists at the sites and use YouTube’s Closed Captioning feature which, albeit poorly translated, will help you follow along if you don’t speak Spanish.

Lead Image: CC Image courtesy of Dave Lonsdale on Flickr


Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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