Introduction

Isolated for centuries in the cloud forests of northern Peru, mellow Chachapoyas appears to be a town on the cusp of wider discovery. For vintage travelers, the ignition of interest will come as no surprise. Straddling the transitional zone between the high Andes and the Amazon Basin, 'Chacha' and its surroundings have long felt like a box of hidden treasure waiting to be dug up.

Founded early in the Spanish conquest as the base from which the exploitation of the Amazon region was launched, contemporary Chacha is a relatively unremarkable town, a tight grid of whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs whose individualistic history mean that few of the populace speak Quechua. Instead, Chacha’s jewels lie scattered across the surrounding countryside: a crinkled web of cloud-enveloped mountains and valleys, inhabited by colossal waterfalls, remarkable birdlife and a mysterious raft of pre-Columbian, pre-Inca ruins, half of them still covered by tangled undergrowth.