Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The Cloud People

Chachapoyas is remote. Located in an area of limestone mountains cut by 700m deep river canyons. It takes time to get here and takes time to get around. Yet even here Peru had another "civilisation" to add to it's long list. The Chachapoyas people or "Cloud People" (due to the location in the eastern Andean cloud forests) established a complex society from 800AD to the 1400's when they were overun by the empire building Incas.

The cloud people left behind what is generally regarded as the most impressive pre-Incan site; the fortress of Kuelap.

Built with more stone than that use to build the great Egyptian pyramid, the castle like fortess is located on a 3000m ridge and was once home to 3000 people. The ride up was terrifying with the road hugging the mountain with a precipice of horrible depth falling away the other side of the road.

The ruins are in the main unrestored, and cloud forest vegetation grows amongst the circular low stone walls that remain. In many ways it is a city of the dead for within each ruins and even within each wall are human remains. It is fortress built of rock and bone.