How Get to Kuelap
Complete Updated Guideline on How Get to Kuelap
The Kuélap citadel, little by little, is becoming a dream destination on its own merits. Characterized by its impressive enclosures and buildings that perfectly blend with the scenic beauty and are witnesses of a pre-Inca culture little known worldwide. For this reason, in this guideline I want to introduce you to the various recommendations and alternatives on how get to Kuelap and learn about this beautiful legacy of the Chachapoyas civilization.
See this interesting blog post: 10 Top Places Every Serious Traveller Should Visit in Peru.
1. Is Kuelap the other Machu Picchu in Peru?
From my point of view as a tour guide in Peru, Kuelap is a must going place in Peru. It has certain characteristics similar to the Machu Picchu citadel: ( Classic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu) both are built on top of mountains; and made of stone. They have a spectacular symbiotic relationship with the surrounding landscape, they are prodigies of architecture for the time they were built; and both are in my beloved Peru.
However, I must mention that at least of all the ancient constructions that I saw in Peru; there is not one, that can be compared in majesty with Machu Picchu.
2. Kuélap, the great legacy of the Chachapoyas
Kuélap, is an important pre-Inca archaeological site located an hour and a half from Chachapoyas. Characterized by green mountains of the Peruvian cloud forest. The Kuélap monumental complex is 582 meters long, and its tallest wall reaches 16 meters.
This impressive citadel is made up of some 420 circular buildings, 4 rectangular ones and some other square ones. At its peak, it must have housed around 3,000 inhabitants.
This beautiful citadel, was made by the sky warriors, as the Chachapoyas civilization are known. Is located in the department of Amazonas, which has nothing to do with the Amazon river located in the department of Loreto; whose location is in the lower jungle.
3. How to get to Chachapoyas?
Some years ago it was a bit difficult on how get to Kuelap, but little by little this destination has gained popularity, so that now, its access is much more viable.
There are several ways on how get to Kuelap, but before, you have to travel to the city of Chachapoyas from several nearby points that I list below:
- The only airline that has direct flights from Lima to Chachapoyas is the ATSA company. (this is the direct link to its website https://www.atsaairlines.com/).
The flight lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes and the only departure time from Lima is 8:40 am. arriving at 10:20 am. To Chachapoyas. The costs are between 70 to 150 dollars according to service class chosen.
- Latam flies in an hour and 34 minutes from Lima to Jaén. A nearby city located in the department of Cajamarca, from where it takes 4 hours by car to Chachapoyas.
Latam usually offers a flight in the morning and one in the afternoon to Jaen and prices fluctuate between 70 and 90 dollars (direct link to the Latam website https://www.latam.com/es_pe/).
There are no direct flights from other places than Lima to Jaen.
Before booking the flights, check which route is best for you and what the luggage policies of each airline are, both carry-on and hold.
If you would like a cheaper option, there are bus companies, that usually leave Lima between 2 pm and 5 pm to Chachapoyas; The bus trip lasts around 22 hours and prices fluctuate between 40 and 50 dollars according to the chosen service.
- If you would like to go by bus from Tumbes to Jaén. The buses leave between 6pm and 9pm, and the trip lasts around 11 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Piura to Jaén. The buses leave between 8pm and 10pm, and the trip lasts around 8 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Chiclayo to Jaén. The buses leave between 8pm and 10pm, and the trip lasts around 7 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Trujillo to Jaén. The buses leave between 6pm and 10pm, and the trip lasts around 10 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Ancash/ huaraz to Jaén. The buses leave between 4pm and 8pm, and the trip lasts around 15 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from San Martin/Tarapoto to Jaén, the buses leave between 8 pm and 10 pm, and the trip lasts around 8 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Pucallpa to Jaén. The buses leave between 2 pm and 6 pm, and the trip lasts around 22 hours and 30 minutes (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you would like to go by bus from Huánuco to Jaén. The buses leave between 2 pm and 6 pm, and the trip lasts around 20 hours (about bus companies, consult a travel agency or go directly to the main bus station of the city).
- If you are in Iquitos, you can fly directly to Tarapoto. The flight lasts 1 hour and almost always leaves at 3:10 pm arriving at 4:10 pm. to Tarapoto (the price is between 70 and 90 dollars according to the selected service); from Tarapoto you can go by car for 8 hours to Chachapoyas.
4. Where to sleep in Kuelap?
Wherever you come from, the base point to how get to Kuélap is the city of Chachapoyas. Which is also the starting point for various excursions in the Amazonas department.
In the surroundings of the main square of Chachapoyas. You will find from cheap hostels to much more comfortable 1 to 3 star hotels.
One of the most important things, if not the most important of the trips, is the lodging. Normally this represents 50% or more of your expense and can make your stay unforgettable, in a good or bad way.
To book a hotel always keep the following in mind:
- Access to public transport.
- Free WIFI.
- Room size.
- Treatment of staff.
- Quality of service.
- Read reviews from other travelers.
5. How get to Kuelap from Chachapoyas?
Chachapoyas is located at 2483 meters above sea level; and the citadel of Kuelap is at 3000 meters, so altitude sickness will not be a problem.
Once in Chachapoyas, you already have got the easiest way on how get to Kuelap. From Chachapoyas you have to get to the town of Nuevo Tingo through a road trip with an average duration of one hour. There are small buses, that leave from the city’s bus station and it costs about 8 soles.
6. Tour to Kuelap from Chachapoyas?
If you would like to stop worrying. I recommend you to book an excursion to the Kuélap citadel, that includes pick up and transfer to your hotel, a guide and also the round-trip ticket for the cable car.
Also if you have already arrived in Chachapoyas. You have the option to book the 2 day excursion, that combines the Gocta waterfall; which is the third highest in the world with 771 meters and the citadel of Kuélap.
7. Kuelap cable car?
One way or another you have to take a car for about an hour and a half to the Nuevo Tingo hamlet (Luya province). And if you are an adventure and hiking lover, in addition to being in good physical condition you can hike for about 3 hours until Kuelap; or if you prefer, you can also go by car for 90 minutes until the lower part of the citadel.
If want to do a Machu Picchu hike, we have this great option for you: Choquequirao Trek and Machu Picchu hike
If the previous options are not to your liking and you prefer to save time and travel comfortably. A great alternative is to use the first cable car in Peru, inaugurated on March 2, 2017.
The cable car currently has 26 cabins, each of which can carry up to 8 passengers. The route is 4 kilometers long and takes 20 minutes to reach the checkpoint: La Malca (Platform No. 2 or Arrival); located at 2,930 meters, point where you can buy tickets to enter the citadel of Kuélap.
The distance to the entrance gate to the citadel is 1 kilometer, and it will take around 25 minutes.
8. How much does the cable car ticket cost?
The Kuelap cable car ticket to February 2020, has a single price of 21 nuevos soles for a round trip or just one way.
The payment, includes the transportation of about 15 minutes round trip. From the boarding station in Nuevo tingo or Platform one to Platform two where you take the cable car. For now and until further news, they only accept payments in cash and in national currency; the cable car service can be purchased until 2:30 p.m. You should know, that the Kuelap cable car ticket does not include the entrance to Kuélap.
Schedule to 2020:
The Kuélap cable car operates from Monday to Sunday, at a time of 8 am to 5 pm. Always considering the last entrance time to Kuelap is at 14:45 pm, and the last bus return time for the cable car is at 16:40 pm.
9. Tickets to enter Kuélap
Regarding the general entrance to enter Kuélap. It has a cost of 20 soles for Peruvians and foreigners, if you have an international student card (ISIC card) the price is reduced to 10 soles.
The average time, takes you to explore Kuelap, is 3 to 4 hours; before entering the citadel, you must visit the free interpretation center, which will explain in detail about the Chachapoyas civilization and the importance of the citadel.
10. There are toilets in Kuelap?
In order to preserve the archaeological site of Kuelap, the Culture Ministry did not implement toilets inside the citadel.
However you can find toilets in Nuevo Tingo or platform one and another one in the place where the cable car leaves you.
11. Which is the best season to visit Kuélap?
The best season to visit Kuelap citadel or Gocta falls which are in the same region and very close to each other; is from April to October, which is the dry season.
Another alternative is to do it at the patronal feast of the Lord of Calamity, which takes place from September 10 to 15 of each year; In this religious holiday you can enjoy a lot of typical food, dances and music.
Don’t miss this spectacular opportunity to visit the citadel of sky; Take advantage of this specialized guide on how get to Kuelap and enjoy your stay.
12. Another great spot close to Kuelap; Gocta falls.
Very close to the citadel of Kuelap is another great attraction of the Amazonas department. There is a place full of mysticism and charm: the Gocta Falls, is a waterfall of impressive height that locals call as “La Chorrera” and which has a height of 711 meters and is the third highest in the world.
This natural charm is located in the Amazonas department, specifically in the Valera district, near Cocachimba, San Pablo, Chachapoyas and Kuelap.