Chiclayo To chachapoyas to Cajamarca Itineraries

  • Archaeology & Forests of Northern Peru including Sipan, Kuelap & Gocta.

  • Begins in coastal Chiclayo and ends in Colonial Cajamarca.

  • 7 nights from £1,689 / $US 2,358 p/p in a private service in 2018 (based on double occupancy). 

  • All land transport, guided excursions, entrances, and most meals included.  

This private tour has at its heart the archaeological and natural highlights of the Chachapoyas region.

Beginning in Chiclayo, we visit some of the many remains of the Lambayeque cultures, before heading eastwards and upwards into the Andes, to a hotel close to the natural wonder of the Gocta Falls. Here, we walk through fields and beautiful cloud forest to the foot of the waterfall, which is one of the tallest in the world.

We then focus on the little-known Chachapoya people and the remains they have left, such as the sarcophagi of Karajia, the tombs of Revash, the Mummy Museum at Leymebamba and, of course, the spectacular fortress of Kuelap.

Leaving the Chachapoyas area, we make the spectacular drive from Leymebamba, via Celendin, to Cajamarca. Here we have a city tour, prior to taking our onward flight. 

8-day Chiclayo - Chachapoyas - Cajamarca Itinerary:

Please note that a shorter, more economical 6-day version is available without the nights in Chiclayo and Cajamarca. Ask us for more details. 

Day 1: Chiclayo (L, D)

 Ventarron Archaeological Site.

Ventarron Archaeological Site.

You are met at either your hotel or the airport and start your tour by visiting the ancient religious site of Ventarron. This is one of the oldest constructions in the Americas, with evidence that the first temple was built in 2,000BC.  

Later we travel to Lambayeque and the Royal Tombs Museum to see the collection of Moche (0-700AD) artefacts found at Sipan.  

After lunch, we carry on to Tucume to see the city of adobe pyramids. Tucume was built by the Lambayeque/Sican culture (800-1350 AD) and added to by the Chimu (1350 – 1450 AD) and Inca (1450 – 1532 AD).  

We carry on along the road, for another hour, to Salas, where we spend the night in Los Faiques, or similar, an exclusive guest house set amongst dry forest, and with well-tended gardens. 

Day 2: Travel to Cocachimba (B, L, D)

Leaving Salas, we carry along the old Panamerican Highway to Olmos, where we start heading east and the road climbs up to the Andes.

 View of Gocta Lodge & Utcumbamba Valley.

View of Gocta Lodge & Utcumbamba Valley.

We cross the Continental Divide and drive down a twisting, well-made road, through a dry valley. Crossing the Marañon River, a major tributary of the Amazon, we enter the department of Amazonas

Carrying on from the city of Bagua, we will see rice fields and then enter the Utcubamba Canyon, for a final magnificent drive up to Cocachimba, where we spend the night at Gocta Natura Cabinsor similar.

Day 3: Gocta Waterfall (B, L)

 The two drops of Gocta Falls.

The two drops of Gocta Falls.

We start our trek to the waterfall of Gocta straight from the hotel door. The waterfall, though known about for many years was only measured in 2006, and at the time, reckoned to be the third highest in the world.

The trek goes along the side of a valley, through sugar cane fields and into forest that is home to the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, sloths and the magnificent cock-of-the-rock.  

With glimpses of the waterfall along the way, we arrive at the base of the highest fall after three hours. Those brave enough may want a dip in the pool at the base. 

Later, we return to the village for a second night in Gocta Natura Cabins, or similar.

Day 4: Huancas & Karajia (B, L, D)

 Huancan lady displaying her home-made pottery.

Huancan lady displaying her home-made pottery.

After breakfast, we drive to the village of Huancas just north of Chachapoyas. This village is famous for its ceramics made by the women.  

Close to the village is the 962 m (3,156 ft) deep Sonche Canyon.  

We return to Chachapoyas and visit the daily market to the see the ladies from Huancas selling their famous pots; and then we carry down to the Utcubamba and cross over to the neighbouring Province of Luya.  

 Striking sarcophagi of Karajia.

Striking sarcophagi of Karajia.

From the town of Luya, we drive on to the village of Cruz Pata, where a short walk (45min) takes us down to Karajia. Here, striking sarcophagi, sculpted like humans, have become an icon of the area. For 750 years they have looked towards the rising sun and undoubtedly are the resting place for some elite caste of Chachapoya warriors. 

Returning to our transport, we drive on to our accommodation at La Casa de Doña Lola, or similar, with regular stops along the way to observe other tomb sites.  

The simple lodge is set in a private reserve containing many typical trees of the Utcubamba Valley, along with some unique species such as the Kuelap Cedro.

Day 5: Kuelap (B, L, D)

 Typical Chachapoya building at Kuelap.

Typical Chachapoya building at Kuelap.

Leaving our lodge, we drive 1.5 hours to the largest ancient stone structure in South America - Kuelap. This fortress is perched on a ridge at 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level, and is still mainly covered with vegetation typical of the cloud forest.  

Your guide will show you around the site, and explain the mysteries and past of this unforgettable testament to ancient city planning.  

Later, we return to our private transport and drive back to La Casa de Doña Lola, or similar, for a second night.

Day 6: Revash & Leymebamba (B, L, D)

 Cliff tombs of Revash.

Cliff tombs of Revash.

Option 1: 
We drive to Yerbabuena (1 hour) and we walk for a steady two hours uphill for a close-up view of a spectacularly colourful cliff tomb (horseback or shorter options available). This extremely photogenic site is perched on a yellow cliff and the tombs are like mini houses, with red pictographs dating back to 1200 AD. 

We continue on to Leymebamba (45 mins) and visit the museum housing the 219 mummies found at nearby Laguna de los Condores in 1997. 

We stay the night in Kentitambo, or similar, an exclusive lodge surrounded by gardens designed to attract hummingbirds (to date, 17 different species).  

Option 2 (lighter):
We drive to Leymebamba and visit the museum that houses 219 mummies and many other objects recovered from tombs overlooking a nearby lake in 1997.  

Afterwards, we head south into The Valley of the Condors. This forested valley has had nesting condor for more than ten years. Also there are great chances of seeing grey-breasted mountain toucans and golden-headed quetzals. There are numerous trails that can be taken through this mini cloud forest reserve. 

Later, drive back to the museum and we stay the night in Kentitambo, or similar, an exclusive lodge surrounded by gardens designed to attract hummingbirds (to date 17 different species). 

Day 7: Leymebamba to Cajamarca (B, L)

Today, drive along one of the most spectacular roads in Peru (6 hours). Start by driving up to a pass (3,600m / 11,800ft) overlooking the Marañon Canyon. 

 A sleepy square in Celendin.

A sleepy square in Celendin.

The road heads down to the river through many different eco-systems. Cross the bridge at the valley bottom at 850m (2,789ft), then drive up 2,400m (7,874ft) to the western side of the canyon. A little beyond is the market town of Celendin, famous for its straw hats.  

Another two hours, crossing high rolling hills and agricultural land, and we arrive in Cajamarca

We stay the night at Hotel Laguna Seca, a farmstead with its own hot springs, outside the city, or similar. 

Day 8: Cajamarca (B, L)

 Cajamarca's  Plaza de Armas , with Cathedral.

Cajamarca's Plaza de Armas, with Cathedral.

Half day City Tour of Cajamarca to Santa Apolonia, the Belen Complex and the Ransom Room.

Tour ends in time for the afternoon flight to Lima.


  • Private transport for all transfers & excursions

  • Accommodation in stated hotels, or similar, on a bed & breakfast basis

  • Other meals as outlined (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner)

  • Specialist, English-speaking guides for Chiclayo, Chachapoyas & Cajamarca areas

  • All entrance fees