Posted by: Ali | April 26, 2010

Kuelap

Day 3 was not nearly as harrowing as the first two days – we were picked up at 10 in a van and driven to Kuelap.

I really didn’t know anything about Kuelap before visiting the region.  What I had heard was it was the poor-man’s Machu Picchu – almost as good, a fraction of the price, and with none of the tourists.

What I didn’t know was that Chachapoya was a name of the group of people who used to live in the region before the Spanish arrived.  Kuelap was a fortress that was not built by the Incas!  In fact, the Chachapoyas were essentially a thorn in the Inca’s side for centuries, and the Incas finally managed to conquer them only about a decade before the Spaniards arrived, at which point the Chachapoyas people quickly sided with the Spanish and continued their rebellion.

The Chachapoyas, nicknamed the Cloud Warriors because the whole region is essentially a cloud forest, were considered to be strange and reclusive (probably because they lived at the top of a mountain).  According to chroniclers, they were the whitest of the indigenous people, so rumours exist that the Vikings visited them a long time ago.  However, archaeologists have said that that is a silly rumour.  What is true is that the Chachapoyas were feared by all as the best warriors in the region, and were also excellent brain surgeons.

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