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This region was a bastion of the Chachapoya culture, a confederation of chiefdoms that built impressive cities from 800 A.D. until their conquest by the Inca circa 1470 A.D.

Search for lost 1,000 year old stone cities in a remote Amazon cloud forest. Explore the gigantic ancient fortress of Kuelap, with its 60 foot high defense walls and 400 major structures within. Be awed by hundreds of recently discovered sarcophagi and funeral mausoleums. Thrill to the most spectacular scenery in all of South America, with colorful limestone canyons, cascading waterfalls and lush forests laden with bromeliads and orchids.

Amazonia Expeditions is the only tour operator offering expeditions to recently discovered ruins in the remote Amazonas Department of Peru. All of our trips here are led by Dr. Peter Lerche (see Peter Lerche's article on Peru's Lost Tombs in National Geographic, September issue, 2000), the world's expert on Chachapoya history and archaeology. Every year our trips feature the highlights of the region as well as new explorations and discoveries.

Vilaya Valley Trip Itinerary
All inclusive cost from Lima: $1795
July 6-15, 2001
Day 1 Fly Miami-Lima
Day 2 Fly Lima-Chachapoyas. Visit cliffside ruins of Macro, built by religious sect of Chachapoya, 800 AD. Bus to Choctamal Lodge.
Day 3 Full day visit of the giant Kuelap fortress. Walls over 65' high, over 4800' long, long uphill "killing corrdor" leads to city of over 400 structures, many decorated with unusual artistic friezes. Little visited by tourists, one can see pottery shards, bones, skulls, etc. Evening at Chillo Lodge.
Day 4 Travel through Abra Yumal pass by horse or hiking (11,000'). In the afternoon, plunge into the eastern slope cloud forests. Explore the Chachapoya city of Calopunta, discovered in 1997. There are hundreds of stone round houses (shunderhuasi) and a central three story structure, overgrown by forest. Camp below Calopunta at 7500'.
Day 5 The trail through the lower forest is dense and must be hiked. The vegetation hides many shunderhuasi. Arrive at the Vilaya River, 6000', make camp.
Day 6 Hike up Cuichimal, 8000', to view Chipuric sarcophagi (1250 AD). About 25 clay sarcophagi containing remains, the elite of Chachapoyan society. An unpublished site. Return to Vilaya Valley camp.
Day 7 Leave Vilaya Valley by horse or by hiking, on a pre-Columbian trail, at times a staircase, passing by more ruins near the mountain top, 10,000'. Camp by the Hualla River.
Day 8 Continue by horse or hike through the Valley of the Sacred Rock. A short hike up a cliff reveals a sarcophagus discovered in 1997. Follow a trail to the shaman center of Colcamar. Bus return to Chachapoyas. Gran Vilaya Hotel.
Day 9 Fly to Lima.

Led by Dolly Arevalo-Beaver and Dr. Peter Lerche.