Stunning landscape, ancient ruins, and tasty foods are just a few reasons to visit Chachapoyas and its surrounding areas. The mid-sized city is located in the Amazonas region of Peru and is becoming increasingly popular for the one-of-a-kind attractions that lie there. Our only regret when visiting Chachapoyas is not having more time to see everything there is to see. Here are some general recommendations and a simple guide for your time here.
Getting To and Away from Chachapoyas
From Lima, you can fly to Jaén and then head to Chachapoyas by bus or car, or you can take a bus straight to Chachapoyas. We were coming from the north and took a bus from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas overnight. Many of the busses are overnight, putting you into Chachapoyas early in the morning. We thought this was great because we didn’t have to waste full day on the bus. Companies such as Cruz Del Sur, Civa, Movil, and Oltursa are reputable companies.
Getting away to your next destination is pretty much the same: by bus. There are many bus stations around the city where you can ask for routes and prices and book tickets. You can also do it online beforehand with various companies.
When to Go
Chachapoyas is in the Amazonas region, but the weather isn’t quite like what you would find deep in the jungle around Iquitos or similar areas. The temperature is generally pretty mild, with an average temperature of 20°C (68°F). The temperature can drop to freezing at night and during cooler times of year and reach into the high 20s (mid 80s in Fahrenheit) during warmer times.
The best time to go is during the dry season, which spans between May and October. During this time, rain is less frequent and the humidity isn’t as extreme. We were there in November, and the days were fairly warm with cooler nights. Shorts were fine during the day, and we threw on a jacket at night. We did get poured on, but the rains generally passed quickly. No matter the time of year, bring a rain jacket and some shoes you don’t mind getting a bit muddy.
Where to Stay
Chachapoyas has many hostels and affordable hotels, making the city a popular stop for backpackers. If you don’t have a car or driver, we recommend staying close to the Plaza de Armas, as many restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, bus stations, and tour operators are located around the square. Here are a few options
- Aventura Chachapoyas Backpackers: Dorms and double rooms with shared bathrooms
- Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostal Boutique: Dorms and double rooms with private bathrooms
- La Casa de los Balcones: Double rooms with private bathrooms
- Casa Kuelap Hostal: Double rooms with private bathrooms, some with kitchenettes
- Hotel Fundo Achamaqui: Deluxe rooms with private bathrooms and breakfast included
- La Ensenada Hotel: Double rooms with private bathrooms, deluxe rooms, and apartments and breakfast included
Where to Eat
There are many great food options in Chachapoyas, many of them sitting in the areas surrounding the Plaza de Armas. For breakfast, there are various cafes, such as Café Café, that offer great deals on breakfast sandwiches, tamales, coffee, and fresh juice. Café Fusiones is a chic café that is popular with tourists, and they offer great coffee, smoothies, full breakfasts, Wi-Fi, and a relaxed ambiance.
If you’re looking for a really cheap and easy meal, smaller panaderias, or bakeries, are also a good option. They offer bread and other baked goods that fed both of us for less than seven soles (USD$2). Pair the bread with fresh fruit from the market that lies a block north of the central plaza and you’ll be set! Panaderia San Jose is a popular bakery and restaurant at the plaza that serves great desserts and complete meals like pasta and salads.
We hardly ate lunch in town because tours typically include this, and we spent the days outside the city. But following are some good lunch and dinner options.
Pollos el Tizón and various restaurants around the Plaza offer unbeatable prices on great local eats, including chicharron, lomo saltado, trucha (trout), and more. If you are craving more western-type foods, there are many pizza pubs and burger places. Mass Burger will serve you up a giant burger with all the toppings for just over two bucks.
Finding Tours in Chachapoyas
Why a Tour?
Many of the attractions around Chachapoyas can be reached on your own, but the headache to get to some of the more remote locations without your own transport makes taking a tour worth it in our opinion. There are many great attractions, such as Kuelap, Gocta waterfall, Sarcophagi of Karajia, Mausoleums of Revash, and more, all of which you can learn a great deal about with the information provided by a local guide. We had a great time on both our trips to Kuelap and Gocta.
Finding a Tour
The amount of tour options can be somewhat overwhelming. To find a tour, just walk around the central square and ask around for pricing on the tour you desire and ensure that they include the things you need. Asking around and doing some research before making a decision is a good idea to make sure that you know general prices and what tours include. Many companies offer similar itineraries and charge similar prices for activities.
Our hostel offered tours, as many hostels do, but we went with Santa Maria Travel and Tours located at the north end of the Plaza de Armas.
You will usually pay before the tour to reserve your spot. Some places accept card, but others require cash payment. If you are a student, bring your student ID and ask about discounts, as a fellow traveler in our group received a discount for having her ID card. Tour costs generally include transportation, lunch, a guide, and the organization of entry tickets to various sites.
Many small restaurants, hostels, and markets only take cash, and it is best to have smaller change to pay. You may have to wait a while for change if you pay with large bills. There are hostels, hotels, tour companies, popular restaurants and cafes, and some supermarkets that take cards, but make sure to carry your passport to show because some establishments require that you show it when paying with card.
There are a few ATMs and banks around the Plaza de Armas. In Chachapoyas, there are no money exchangers in the street as there are in some other Peruvian cities, so you can exchange at banks or just take out soles. Make sure you get bills that are in good shape, otherwise they may be rejected when you try to pay for things afterwards.
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