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The so-called 'Machu Picchu of the north,' once home to the mysterious ‘warriors of the cloud forest,' sits like a giant medieval castle on a craggy mountain ridge 37 miles (60km) southwest of Chachapoyas, close to the village of Tingo. It is the best preserved and most dramatic of the district’s many archaeological sites and – with the recent construction of a cable car – is fast becoming northern Peru’s biggest attraction (annual tourist numbers doubled to 120,000 within a year of the cable-car opening). Situated at a higher altitude to Machu Picchu and built a good 500 years earlier, Kuélap predates the Inca Empire and was probably never conquered by Peru’s most famous pre-Columbian culture. Sometimes described as a fortress, it was more likely a walled city (but what walls!) which at its peak might have been home to up to 300,000 people.

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