And so through rice paddies, palm trees and a stunning canyon to Chachapoyas, with a little unscheduled walking due to a five kilometre road blockade over the closure of the local education office and shifting of 5 jobs. Unsurprisingly a French friend stopped to show his solidarity by joining them for lunch.
We came here to explore Kuelap, the pre-Inca capital of the Chachapoyas region, set high on a remote ridge and surrounded by massive, largely intact defensive walls. Chachapoyans were physically very different from the small statured Incas - they were over 6 feet tall and fair with blue eyes - yet eventually the Incas managed to prevail after a year-long siege in which the Chachapoyans could access no food or water from their cultivated lands.
Walking through the jungle that has overgrown the surviving houses and buildings (many of which are substantially intact) was a magical experience. Kuelap is remote, grand and spectacularly situated yet sees few tourists.
Chachapoyans built their houses in a circular design to withstand earthquakes. The walk back down the valley suggests many local farmers should do the same - the destruction of the September 2005 earthquake was evident, yet Kuelap remained untouched.