View Single Post
Old 02-19-2013, 02:07 PM   #287
RexBuck OP
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Oddometer: 1,089
Feb 9 - 11 Kuelap

Took a tour to Kuelap Fortress ruins which sits on top of a mountain about 3 hours by bus from Chachapoyas.

Most of the 3 hour ride is spent winding up the mountains to reach the fortress. Pass a lot of locals walking along the road.This girl hauling some grass to feed livestock.

You can see the cliffs in the far distance which on which Kulap is located. On the closer hill you can see the road we just came up.

Kulap was the home of the Chachapoya Indians who occupied it from about 500AD to about 1500AD. It is situated on the mountain top as a defense against warring neighboring tribes particularly the Indians of the Amazon rain forest noted as headshrinkers.

All the entrances were these long, narrow walkways that would allow only one person at a time to enter.

The Chachapoya could then easily overpower the enemy one at a time and then chucked them off this cliff. This farm land is at the bottom of the cliff. To get an idea of the scale, there is a guy standing just below the house at about the 7 o’clock position.

The Chachapoya lived inside the fortress in these round houses. There are about 500 of them. This one was restored.

You can see a number of original round house foundations in the foreground - the large structure at the back was for food storage. The round shape was chosen as it was the most efficient shape to offset the frequent earthquakes they have in the area.

The Chachapoya liked to keep their dead nearby. They would embalm them, fold them up and could put a few in these holes in the middle of their houses. Kind of like keeping Grandma in the basement. They guy in this pic was our guide Agosto - fluent in Spanish, English and German. I think guides make these places a lot more interesting.

The round houses were organized by hierarchy with the Shamans having distinctive designs on the outsides of theirs

The Shamans also wore special shoes and they wore distinctive ruts in the soft limestone over the centuries.

That line of rocks going across the floor of most houses was used to house a flock of Guinea Pigs or Cuyos which was a big part of their diet.

The rock wall around the fortress is riddled with little storage spaces where more bones are stored. I guess when they run out of room in the basement, somebody has to go to the wall.

This structure is huge and I couldn’t capture its size in one photo. It apparently has a greater volume of stone in it than does the Cheops Pyramid. All of the stone was quarried about 10 km away and carried by hand up the mountain.

Even have a bunch of Llamas that hang around there. Pretty cool looking animals but they can be nasty with a vicious kick and are very adept spitters.

The picture I took of the fortress on top of the mountain was taken somewhere on that road in the distance.

Chachapoya people grew primarily potatoes when they occupied the fortress. The descendents still grow primarily potatoes and also corn which was introduced by the Inca.

The Chachapoya would collect rainwater in the wet season but had to haul water up the mountain from rivers in the valley bottoms in dry season. I guess after carrying all that rock up the mountain, it was a natural progression to start carrying water.

The Inca and the Spaniards showed up in the area about the same time. The Chachapoya were able to defend against both until decimated by smallpox brought over by the Spanish. The Inca finally forced the survivors to leave the fortress by cutting off their dry season water supply.

On the way back we stopped for a meal of outstanding local trout

__________________ - RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America
RexBuck is offline   Reply With Quote