Northern Highlands

The tiny and agreeably unkempt village of Huancas (pronounced like the English ‘wankers’!) has a small artisan community making clay pots the old-fashioned way. You can watch the local potters at work in a couple of houses on the diminutive Plaza de Armas. Huancas is also famed for its two magnificent miradores (lookouts), both a short walk from its main square.

Mirador Huancas has soaring views of the Utcubamba Valley. Mirador Cañón del Sonche has equally impressive vistas over a deeply gouged river canyon.

A S30 round-trip taxi ride will take you the 8km north to Huancas from Chachapoyas. It's also possible to take a colectivo (shared transportation; S3, 25 minutes) from the bus terminal. To get there on foot, walk up to the Mirador Luya Urco and keep heading north, turning left at a fork in the road after 1km.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Highlands attractions

1. Mirador Cañón del Sonche

0.57 MILES

The joy of this steep-sided canyon that cuts like a deep gash through the Northern Highlands is that you’re barely aware it’s there until you are…

2. Mirador Luya Urco

3.71 MILES

A 10-minute stroll northwest along Salamanca brings you to this modest lookout with a city panorama.

3. Instituto Nacional de Cultura Museo

3.82 MILES

This small museum on the Plaza de Armas houses mummies found throughout the region, plus ceramics from several pre-Columbian periods and one of the…

4. Church


This whitewashed church, officially known as the Catedral San Juan Bautista, sits on the Plaza de Armas. Its heavy black wooden doors rarely seem to open…

5. Yalape

8.68 MILES

This largely unexcavated archaeological site dates from around AD 1100 and is located 17km south of Chachapoyas near the village of Levanto. A visit here…

6. Caverna de Quiocta

8.89 MILES

This large cave is 545m long and guards a spooky selection of stalagmites, stalactites and other trippy rock formations. Also visible around the entrance…

7. Catarata de Gocta

10.47 MILES

This 771m waterfall somehow escaped the notice of the Peruvian government, international explorers and prying satellite images until 2002, when German…

8. Karajía

10.98 MILES

This extraordinary funerary site hosts six sarcophagi perched high up a sheer cliff face. Each long-faced tomb is constructed from wood, clay and straw…