Lake of the Condors is not just a natural masterpiece but a sacred place for one of the most mysterious civilizations in Peru. Six mausoleums rise under a natural water cloak decorated with cave paintings and red walls in an almost vertical hillside. It was the place that the Chachapoyas chose to preserve their dead officials, and where less than a decade ago, more than 200 burial mounds were found. This ten-day journey will take you to the enigmatic Lake of the Condors and the highlights of Northern Peru, including the fortress of Kuelap and the Gocta Waterfalls. This itinerary is perfect for travelers looking to explore the country actively while staying at charming handpicked hotels and lovely rural homestays. Challenge yourself into an incredible off-the-beaten-path adventure!
Why we love this trip!
- Expedition to the Lake of the Condors, one of the best kept secrets of the Cloud Forest.
- Take a cableway to the impressive Kuelap Fortress.
- Hike to the Gocta Waterfall, one of the highest in the World.
Welcome to Northern Peru! Upon arriving at Jaen airport, our guide will welcome you and take you on a 4-hour trip to your lovely lodge in Lamud, Tambo Sapalanchan. On route, you’ll be driving along the gorgeous Utcubamba Valley, the territory of the ancient Sachapuyu (or Chachapoyas, inhabitants of the cloud forest). Your guide will give you a short briefing about all the details of the itinerary and your upcoming adventure.
Begin your journey visiting Karajia, a set of unique sarcophagi with an enormous size of up to 3 meters high and sculptured like humans. We’ll hike for 45 minutes to a viewpoint where we can appreciate these striking icons that have been overlooking the valley for over 750 years. Afterward, we’ll have lunch in the small town of Luya before reaching our next adventure: the Quiocta caverns. Enter the cavern with flashlights and get amazed by its incredible stalagmites and stalactites of different sizes and shapes!
Head to the town of Tingo on an hour-long ride to board our cable car to the spectacular historical site of Kuelap, an ancient fortress of the Chachapoyas people. Kuelap, sitting majestically above a mountain ridge at 9500 ft, will amaze you with its towering walls and round stone houses surrounded by the cloud forest. After exploring the site, drive down to the Utcubamba valley and Milpuj, a private conservation project in the Amazonas region. Lola and Perico, mother and son, run this unique and charming property and will be more than happy to share his experience with us as you enjoy a cup of freshly made local coffee.
Revash and La Jalca are two fantastic secret spots we’ll be visiting today. From Santo Tomas village, we begin our easy morning hike to the Revash. It is an impressive Chachapoya mausoleum complex where tombs hang in inaccessible cliffs in the shape of miniature houses. After, travel to La Jalca, a charming town that only a few travelers have the chance to visit. It is a unique opportunity to meet and share some time with local families who will be our hosts tonight. Together, we’ll visit their 500-year-old colonial church and Ollape, an unexplored Chachapoyas site still hidden under dense vegetation. We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with our host.
Spend the morning with your hosts, helping in their daily activities related to agriculture and textiles. Depending on the season, we may prepare the fields or harvest local produce. Weaving is also an activity we can join! We will say goodbye to our new friends and continue to Leymebamba, where your lodge sits at the edge of the Utcubamba valley, offering beautiful views of the mountains. It is the perfect place to recover energy and get ready for your next and most challenging adventure, Lake of the Condors.
Leave Leymebamba village following a stone trail looking for The Hidden Pearl. Up into the mountains, you’ll cross high grassland plains before making a long descent towards the Laguna. The scenery is simply beyond description, and the demanding horseback ride or hike is well worth the effort. After 8 hours, arrive at the simple wood logs hut that is just a few minutes’ walks from a panoramic view of the lake.
The main day of your trip has finally arrived! Leave the refuge and hike north of the Lake of the Condors while enjoying its beauty. Continue through a steep ascent assisted with fixed wood stairs up to the sheltered ledge, and find the imposing Chachapoya Mausoleums. Some tombs have remained untouched for centuries hidden behind a huge rock. The mausoleums of the Lake of the Condors are considered a sacred place where the ancient Peruvians placed their more important dead high officials. We explore the archaeological remains before returning to the refuge to spend the second night.
After a beautiful sunrise in the middle of the cloud forest, leave the refuge and take a comfortable ride back to Leymebamba. The return offers another perspective of the changing ecosystems and their incredible biodiversity. Once in Leymebamba, take a 3-hour journey towards Gocta Natura, our exclusive lodge overlooking the Gocta Waterfalls in Cocachimba.
Wake up with a breathtaking morning view from the Gocta waterfall. After having a delicious and organic breakfast, start a 3-hour hike to the famous Gocta Waterfall, one of the tallest falls in the world (771 m /2520 ft). This hike is around 6 km long and will take you through cultivated fields and the cloud forest, home of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, mountain sloth, and the magnificent cock-of-the-rock, Peru’s national bird. Spend the afternoon enjoying the facilities of the lodge and relax in the hotel’s pond overlooking Gocta. Walk around the veggie garden, or join a private trek within the lodge property.
Finally, after seeing the best of Peru’s Northern treasures, we’ll head to Jaen Airport, about 4 hours away. Board your return flight to Lima and connect flights back home.
- Personalized attention before and throughout your trip
- Brief presentation prior departure
- All transfers and transports
- Entrance fees
- Local English-speaking guide focused on personalized trips
- Accommodation at well-thought hotels according to your travel style
- Mentioned meals
What’s not included?
- Services not specified in the program, extras & tips
- Domestic flights
- International flights
- Travel Insurance