Chachapoyas, Peru transportation

Old Jul 1st, 2022, 06:54 AM
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Chachapoyas, Peru transportation

I am planning on doing a quick two and a half week trip to Peru in late July, it will be my first time there. Since my trip is so short I would like to go to just one area and use it as a base for exploration. I'm more into off the beaten path destinations than touristy places. Based on my wants it seems that Chachapoyas may be a good base for exploration. Since I've never been to Peru I'm not sure how transportation functions there.

Does anyone know how hard it is to get to the areas around Chachapoyas using public transportation? If not public transportation, is it possible to rent a scooter in Chachapoyas?

Thanks!
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Old Jul 1st, 2022, 09:41 AM
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Suggest you browse the Fodor's Trip Reports, kja went fairly recently. crellston also has an older but detailed report.

I am not sure I would consider it a good base for 2.5 weeks. But certainly an interesting area to branch out from, you could include either the Northern Coast (eg Chiclayo/Trujillo/) and/or the cloud forest and rainforest east of there. If you are not afraid of twisty mountain roads, fly Lima to Cajamarca and take the overland bus journey into the Grand Canyon of the Marañón. Before you descend into the Canyon, you can overnight in the interesting market village of Celendín. You will arrive in Leymabamba, which has an excellent museum near the splurgy but worthwhile lodging of Kentitambo. Note, I think the public transfers are basically "chicken bus" but I did meet some other travelers who were able to ask around and find a private jeep transfer.

From Leymabamba you should be able to reach Chachapoyas, as well as the sites such as Revash, Kuelap, Karija, etc. There are travel agencies around the Chachapoyas plaza that can get you to the local sights. As well as hotels. PS I recommend giving the caves a miss.

I believe the operator of Gocta Lodge is set up to tour the area between Tarapoto and Chachapoyas in particular

https://goctalodge.com/en/nosotros/

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 1st, 2022 at 09:45 AM.
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Old Jul 1st, 2022, 03:34 PM
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I visited Chachapoyas in July, 2019, and I thought it was a fantastic place. It's quaint, white colonial town, of the sort I love to spend time in. (Much more aesthetic than guide-book writers usually indicate -- I wonder whether they even make it there!) Due to a temporary foot problem I didn't get around to the various ancient sites as much as I should have, but I did see Kuelap -- also amazing. And not just the ruins themselves, but the spectacular mountains vistas visible everywhere. And though I can't predict what the weather will be like for you, it was perfect for me -- and at those altitudes, it often is. And at least during my visit, the "tourist quotient" was very low -- at Kuelap, just a trickle of others, and they seemed all to be South American. Among my nine trips to Peru so far, that one was one of the best. I think you've made a great choice.
At that time, I flew round-trip from Lima on ATSA Airlines, which in addition to Chachapoyas, served other smaller Peruvian cities. I don't know whether they're still functioning, but they had a web-site then, and you can check to see if it's still there. (If ATSA is no longer flying, perhaps another small company has taken their place.) If not a flight, it will be a very long bus trip from Chiclayo, Trujillo, or Cajamarca, the usual starting points.
Once in Chachapoyas, you'll have little trouble getting around the area. Unless things have changed since 2019 (and they might have because of Covid), there is public transportation, mainly minivans, to various places in the area; plus a few local, independent tour offices in Chachapoyas than can take you around. For my Kuelap visit, I took a public mini-van to the town of Nuevo Tingo, from where -- believe it or not -- spiffy new cable cars take you the last six miles up to the Kuelap visitor's center. (And from where, it turn, it's an approximately half-hour hike to the ruins themselves.) From the cable cars, the hiking path, and the ruins, the surrounding mountain vistas are spectacular.
I think with the Chachapoyas area, and perhaps a couple of the destinations in that same part of the country, as suggested in the previous comments, you will easily fill your time in Peru.

Last edited by Faedus; Jul 1st, 2022 at 03:44 PM.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2022, 07:19 AM
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Chachapoyas is mostly accessible by bus. Several bus companies, Movil Tours or GH for example, connect the capital of Amazonas every day with different cities.

The night buses allow you to make the trip and arrive directly in Chachapoyas early in the morning. Therefore you will be able to do the daily excursions on the same day. Fresh and smart, that is another topic.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 07:08 AM
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Here is kja's very detailed but excellent report from 2018. I was last in Chachapoyas in 2016, when the main square and sidewalks were torn up and blocked to traffic. Many of the establishments around the plaza from my first visit were gone. Also the pandemic may have put the kibosh on LATAM flights to Jaen, I don't see them listed.
Unfortunately, yes most of those long distance bus rides are overnight so you can't see anything along the way!


Praise for Peru – A report of my solo month in this amazing country

Re lodging in Chachapoyas, avoid the former Revash hotel on the plaza, not sure of the name, but probably Casona de Rosario. Casona Monsante is on booking.com. La Xalca is a newly built hotel 3 blocks from the plaza, it works for anyone with a vehicle so popular with tour groups. Not sure about the rates (probably more expensive than the others).

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Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 12:10 PM
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I want to point out that by my 2019 visit to Chachapoyas, the construction (or "torn-up" condition) referred to in the preceding comment was complete, the town was restored to its original charm, and I never even guessed that any such "tearing up" had taken place. Also, to the list of suggested lodgings, I'll add the one where I stayed, Las Orquideas in the center of town, a great hotel which, at the time, was regularly attended by an English-speaking manager (maybe also owner) who knew the area well, and could arrange tours.
I agree that the airline LATAM is not likely to serve Chachapoyas. Often in Peru, the smaller, more remote towns are served by airlines that specialize in them. Again, check to see whether ATSA, or another such airline, is still operating

Last edited by Faedus; Jul 3rd, 2022 at 12:19 PM.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 06:24 AM
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Glad to hear that they've managed to put the town back together in one piece, Faedus.

LATAM only ever served Jaen, which is still pretty far away. I think the local airport can only serve "puddle jumpers".
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 12:00 PM
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We visited Chachapoyas maybe 8-9 years ago. as with the rest of Peru, it was relatively easy to get around buy public transport buses, collectives etc. It helps if you speak Spanish and if you happened to be the only gringo on ay collective, expect to get ripped off here and there.

We were travelling overland from Ecuador down through Peru and on to Bolivia so it wasn't really out of the way for us. It was a pleasant diversion but I don't think it would be an ideal base for a few weeks, especially if this is your first visit. There are many other places you can get off the beaten track , even in the Sacred Valley.

A link to my trip report here Back to South America It is long so you will have to scroll a long way.

Alternatively, there is some more of our travels in Peru on our blog (with photos) https://accidentalnomads.com/category/peru/

Whatever you do, do NOT rent a scooter in Peru. I love the Peruvian people but they drive like lunatics> Deaths by RTA are very high.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 01:23 PM
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A couple remarks on the above comments:
[1] The ATSA plane I flew to Chachapoyas was a proper jet, although a smaller model; not what I would consider a "puddle-jumper". Then again, I've done only one round-trip Lima-Chachapoyas flight, and it's possible that other sorts of jets and planes have done that same route.
[2] I do not believe I was ripped off in any way on my Chachapoyas trip, though that could mean either that I really wasn't ever ripped-off, or that I was just naive. However, in almost any country, the slickest rip-off artists will usually head to the places that most of the tourists visit, and in Peru, that does not mean Chachapoyas.
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 02:27 PM
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[1] The Fleet shown on the website is all turboprops. No jets.

https://www.atsaairlines.com/flota

[2] I don't think any one said they were "ripped off".
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Old Jul 4th, 2022, 07:52 PM
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Well at least it's good to see the ATSA web-site is still functioning. I think what I flew was the Fokker 50, and yes, it does seem have sort of a turbo-prop look. I've made several visits to Peru, including several flights, and I must have been thinking of another. But while Fokker 50 is a precise designation, "puddle jumper" is not, and that's not how the plane, or the flight, impressed me.
And a comment just above mine did in fact warn about the possibility of getting "ripped off here and there," though my impression of Chachapoyas -- and it is an impression, not the finding of a scientific study -- is that this possibility is slim. My personal impression of Chachapoyas, at least as of July 2019, was that it's the kind of place that appreciates the visitors it gets. I found the town to be pleasantly low-keyed, there were no signs of high-intensity tourism at all, and the only concession the town seemed to have made to tourism, besides those independent tour agencies I mentioned, was a sort of bohemian coffee-house cafe facing the main plaza. But I thought it was a fine cafe, and judging from the Spanish I heard around me, it seemed that the local people liked it as well.

Last edited by Faedus; Jul 4th, 2022 at 07:57 PM.
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 08:33 PM
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I read a few of the linked reports and my excitement is growing.

I am now reconsidering where to base myself. I'm an avid hiker and looking at the all the hiking around Huaraz makes that area seem quite appealing. I know that doesn't meet the "off the beaten path" requirement at all, but those peaks are calling me.

I have read that Caraz is a lot more laid back that Huaraz, perhaps I can try that instead. I see some decently priced, good-looking AirBnBs in Caraz.

Which leads to a few more questions:

Has anyone been to both Caraz and Huaraz that can compare them? I see some reviews of Huaraz saying it is a dirty and busy place, and others that say it isn't so bad. Everything I've read about Caraz seems good.

Are there any destinations that come to mind that can satisfy the urge to hike some 4,500+ m peaks and also see some historical sights? It's quite possible I'm overlooking something obvious.

I need to hurry up and figure out where I'm going, I'll be arriving in Lima in about a week haha. I've spent the last few weeks bushwhacking (off-trail hiking) in various Northern California wilderness areas so I haven't planned much for the Peru trip.
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 10:32 PM
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We also visited Huaraz on a different trip to Peru. As I recall we did pass through Caraz but only stopped for lunch or breakfast. We weren't there long but I don't recall it being anything remarkable. Huaraz is usually busy with trekkers but we were there in the high season and it didn't seem that busy and certainly not "dirty". Certainly nothing like Cusco.

We spent a few nights in the centre of Huaraz and then moved up to the Lazy Dog Inn about 8kms out of town. It is run by a Canadian couple one of who, Wayne is a retired park ranger and knows all there is to know about hiking in the area. We did a few of his self mapped hikes directly from the Inn which - incredible scenery. Wayne also organised the Laguna 69 hike for us and another couple which was amazing (but tough!) some photos of that and some other hikes are in our blog linked above. Too old for the 3-4 day Santa Cruz trek which is the most popular (probably booked up by now but you never know)

In your situation I would probably stay somewhere like the LDI or in Huaraz where there are dozens of trek operators and you may stand a better chance of organising hiking their than in Caraz
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 09:09 AM
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I stayed a bit out of the center in Huaraz, in this hotel which is under a different name than when I was there. I had a mountain view room which was sort of a waste since I was out all day. I didn't do any long treks like crellston, just the Llaganuco Lake short walk. It does take a while to get to the various hikes and sights of interest, as well you will need to be acclimated to the altitude for longer and higher treks. The center of Huaraz is not all that pleasant. I preferred Huancayo, Chachapoyas and Cajamarca. Of course, the ambience is probably less "colonial" in feel since most of the town was destroyed in the 1970 earthquake.

https://www.expedia.com/Huaraz-Hotel...el-Information

There is a day trip to Chavin de Huantar if you want a little taste of ancient sites. I did three day tours, one to Chavin de Huantar, one to Pastoruri Glacier, and one to the LLanganuco Lake. All left from Huaraz. Virtually everyone on the tours were Peruvians, with a few Europeans, but these weren't multiday trekking.

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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 10:06 AM
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I have use Andean Travel Web for background research but don't think it is up to date as far as businesses, etc.

Peru Mountain Climbing Guide.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 01:28 PM
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I've made only one visit to Huaraz, and that was in 2014, so I don't know how much, or even whether, it's changed in the last few years. But what I recall is a rather pleasant town, not dirty at all, and basically a nice place to hang out for a while. The tidy central square, with the high mountains looming up in the distance, made for a great view. Earthquakes over the centuries have damaged the town's original colonial look, though oddly, one long street along the eastern edge, Jose Olaya (named after an Afro-Peruvian who had performed acts of heroism during the Indepenedence wars), somehow survived it all, and still had its old Spanish look intact.
As for whether Huaraz is "off the beaten path": At least as of my 2014 visit, the trekking season ended, abruptly, at the end of September, and as I was there in early October, it seemed almost tourist-free (except for me). And though I can't account for what Huaraz is like during "high" trekking season, I am aware that the visitors Huaraz attracts tend to be hikers, trekkers, and mountain-climbers, who are usually more independent types, as distinct from the more common "fun-in-the-sun" sorts that the world's more dedicated tourist sites cater to. In other words, Huaraz did not seem at all to have been "ruined" by tourism in any way.
Finally, as mlgb suggested above, I would recommend a trip to the ancient site of Chavin de Huantar, which dates back well over 2000 years. What is known about its purpose and culture is quite fascinating, though I can't go into it all in a forum comment like this. I did a day trip myself, but then regretted not having stayed overnight in the small town of Chavin (just a short walk from the ancient site). It had a quaint Spanish-colonial center, and after a short walk into the newer part of town, a fine museum.
(Additional notes: In Huaraz I stayed right in town, at La Casa de Zarela. If it's still what it was then, it offers a pleasant guest-house environment that I can strongly recommend. Unfortunately, I didn't get to Caraz.)

Last edited by Faedus; Jul 9th, 2022 at 01:36 PM.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 03:58 PM
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Thanks everyone! What a helpful group of people on this forum

I decided to go ahead and do Huaraz. After flying in I'll stay one night in San Isidro, Lima to acclimate myself. I bought a Movil ticket to Huaraz for the next night, and booked my first four nights at an Airbnb in Huaraz.

The check out date of the Airbnb coincides perfectly with the only available reservation at the LDI. The LDI is only available for 2 days so I'm thinking of splurging and giving it a try, but I need to do a little bit more planning. I see some mountaineering classes that look fun. I've always wanted to up my hiking to mountaineering, why not do it in the Andes? During my rest days I can check out Chavin or cruise down Jose Olaya.

Still more planning to do but feels good to have the first five days' lodgings locked down.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 05:52 PM
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LIma will help you recover from the flight, but does nothing for altitude adjustment if that's what you meant (it's essentially at sea level). Do try to be rested before the flight, and stay hydrated.

Have you any experience at altitude? The first few nights sleeping in Huaraz should help or you can look into Diamox.

Pastoruri Glacier trip is a good test, at about 5,000 meters. Even if you take the horse most of the way, you still have to walk the last bit.



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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 08:53 AM
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There was just a landslide above the town of Chavín de Huántar, from what I can tell not far from the archaeology site. There is a state of emergency for the next few months so not sure if you will be able to access that area. Usually these day tours can be booked on short notice, from one of the agencies around the plaza.

In a similar note, the interior of Kuelap has apparently been closed since April due to the collapse of a section of the south wall. It is still possible to visit the exterior (for free).

Unfortunately again, the National Archaeology Museum in Lima, which housed some of the important Chavín artifacts, is also closed.

If you will be ascending up to 5000 meters, be prepared for freezing or near freezing temps and possibly a dusting of snow.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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If you have the time during your day in San Isidro (an uncommon choice, but a nice area), you may want to visit an ancient site, located in that neighborhood, called Huaca Huallamarca (assuming at least this one is still open, and in good shape). It won't quite compensate for the two sites that, according to the above comment, appear to be closed for now, but it's interesting enough, and probably won't be too far from where you're staying.
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