Having narrowly escaped death by jungle, we travelled westward. For three fucking days.
A nice boat trip over the Amazon and a couple of not as nice bus trips through all kinds of mountainous terrain brought us to Tingo. It’s a cute little town with a really nice hostel, located in the valley between, you guessed it, a bunch of mountains. It’s at the edge of that town where a hiking route starts to Kuelap, the walled city. No, not a fortress, the walls actually were a way to keep level ground (of which there originally was none, because “let’s build our city at the mountaintop”). This hike though, is a nine kilometer long ordeal. Doesn’t sound like much, until I tell you it ascends 1.5 kilometers.
It wasn’t all that bad though, especially considering this meant you got a progressively better view of the landscape and, eventually, all the farmland they got going on up there. Really surprising to see, you don’t expect to encounter an entire village of farmers when you go for a stroll up a group of high mountains. Anyway, nice hike, great view, terrible weather. Rain? No, never heard of that. The sun burnt me alive though.
Kuelap itself was absolutely gorgeous. First thing you see (and basically all you can get a view of if you’re not in/on Kuelap itself) are these enormous walls encircling a large area, in some places held upright by wooden scaffolding. (They have a “minimum interference” policy when it comes to maintaining the ruins, really cool.) Entering through the one corridor that you’re allowed to enter through, you climb up some steps of stairs (god I fucking hate stairs) and ascend even higher. It is then that you realize the walls are not built around the city, they are built around the very ground that supports it!
Because the city in its entirety has been elevated to be as high as the mountain’s top, you have a great view on all sides of it. Pictures can’t do that justice. Throughout the city you’ll find paths of pallets, making it easier to move around. Most of the ruins have been left untouched (again, minimum interference policy), which has allowed them to keep their overgrown looks. It’s all kinda mossy and blends in with the area well, which is a super pretty aesthetic. Did I mention there’s a bunch of trees up there in the city as well? They help prevent fast corrosion and they make the city look amazing. Wow!
The way back was an interesting experience. We had intended on staying the night in a nearby town, but then we heard of a bus to Lima that left earlier than what we had planned for. We ended up hitching a couple of rides (first time ever doing that; great, fun experience, but pickup truck trunks aren’t very comfy) all the way back to Tingo, departing from there the next morning.
This was actually the last point of interest we saw. Our journey’s almost at its end!