Making new friends on the road

We had been in communication with Mark and Hana ( who were heading south on the same road as our northward journey and we were finding it tricky working out a plan to meet up. They have been on the road for 2 years from Alaska, and are taking the least travelled roads so their final destination at times, is getting further away, not closer. In comparison to their journey we are mere weekend warriors. We eventually worked out a plan to meet in Chachapoyas.

We are now on the downhill road to the border with Equador but we have thrown in a few recommended sidetrips to enrichen this last bit of time in Peru.

The first was up to Kuelap, a fortified pueblo, built 800AD that perhaps had 400 Chachapoya families living in at its peak before they were dispersed by the Incas in 1450’s. The town had 3 entries through the high walls and the village sat on the top, hundreds of round, 2 storied, grass peaked abodes. Now all that is left on the top of Kuelap is an intensive collection of stone rings, along with some rectangular community buildings and ceremonial structure for dropping precious items into its inverted cone centre.

The Kuelap site would be second to Machu Picchu in historical importance and because of that a gondola opened a year ago to give quicker access from Nuevo Tingo. We were on the first Telecabina with cycle tourers Dave and Nancy, the first other cyclists we had met on the road all trip. Unlike Machu Pichu it was a real treat to have the site pretty well to ourselves, because we were early and because it is not easy to get to so it is yet to make it big on the tourist circuit.

From Kuelap we biked down the Rio Utcabamba and then up to Chachapoyas to meet Mark, Hanna and Richard. We had an entertaining dinner together lubricated by a shared jug of Pisco Sour.

Next day we played tourists together on our own private trip to 2 other important Chachapoya sites. The first is visited by few tourists due to its exposed location. It is a series of 27 dwellings along a very exposed ledge, with views to other ledges where mummies had been contained in basic sarcophagi. Sadly a lot of looting/vandalism occurred before these sites were secured.

The 2nd destination was to a cliff face whose drawcard was 6 large sacrophagi which contained mummies of important Chachapoya. 2 have fallen off in earthquakes. We all enjoyed the sites and spending time together but not the long drive.

We have now gone our divergent ways, new friends, bonded over a love of riding crazy roads.