A Guide To Celendin

Holy Virgin of Carmen Church, Celendin.

The sleepy town of Celendin in the Department of Cajamarca is considered one of the most beautiful towns in the Peruvian Andes. It lies about two hours east of the city of Cajamarca by bus, on the road to Chachapoyas, and is a good place to break this stunning road trip

Visitors find simple hotels and the startlingly-blue, 19th Century Church of the Holy Virgin of Carmen, on the main plaza.

A recent addition to the town's religious highlights is the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the town. It dwarfs the older church behind it. This can easily be reached on foot, walking three blocks westwards from the Plaza de Armas, followed by a short climb up a switchback path, to give great views of Celendin and the surrounding countryside. 

There are not a huge number of tourist attractions in and around Celendin. The Saturday market is famed for its exceptional straw hats; and there is an impressive waterfallEl Cornelio, in the Huasmin district, some two hours away. 

If you have the time, and an adventurous spirit, the Chullpas de Oxamarca are to be found in a largely-unexplored, remote region south of Celendin. These consist of a series of funerary towers (chullpas) located on the western side of the Marañon River. Little is known about these chullpas, but they are similar in design and time period to those of the Chachapoya culture to be found on the other side of the Marañon.

The attraction of Celendin town is in its laidback atmosphere, agreeable climate and lush Andean scenery

While the route to Celendin from Cajamarca is very pretty, on a good, paved road, the onward journey, from Celendin to Chachapoyas, is out-of-this-world, offering a cross-section of Peru in just eight hours. 

The small, tropical town of Balsas on the Marañon River.

The road, much of which is single-lane and only paved in 2013, climbs from 2,625m (8,613ft) at Celendin to a pass at about 3,200m (10,500ft), dropping precipitously to the Marañon River (a major tributary of the Amazon) at 850m (2,789ft). The climate here is positively tropical, and the small town of Balsas has a very Amazonian feel. It is also a fertile region for growing fruit and vegetables. 

Leaving Balsas, the road labours upwards again to the Barro Negro (Black Mud) pass at 3,678m (12,068ft), dropping once more to Leymebamba at 2,200m (7,218ft), and finally following the banks of the Utcubamba River to the turn-off to Chachapoyas, located at 2,335m (7,661ft). 

How to Visit: If you like the sound of this classic road trip, but do not fancy a long-distance bus ride - on bumpy roads, with loud videos dubbed in Spanish! - why not let PeruNorth arrange private transport for you, allowing you to travel in comfort and make plenty of stops along the way? Just get in touch and ask us how. 

Alternatively, Day 7 of both the Chiclayo - Cajamarca 8D and Hidden Chachapoyas 7D itinerary is spent making the journey from Leymebamba to Cajamarca.

Birders, meanwhile, spend a night in Celendin in the course of the 21-day Northern Birding Route

What our clients say about the drive from Cajamarca to Celendin:

I think the highlight of those 3-4 days for me was the drive through the Marañon Canyon - it was way more spectacular and interesting than any of the literature lets on. The scale of it and the number of different ecozones you pass through is fascinating.
— David Cregan & Michael Kyriagis - Marylebone, UK