Chachapoyas: History and Hikes

The bus ride from Cajamarca to Chachapoyas is described as dangerous and difficult because it winds through narrow mountain passes dropping into a valley before climbing back up again. Apparently people like to drive too fast and too close on this road, so it can be a bit of an adventure. Many people also report that the scenery is stunningly beautiful, so we were a bit disappointed to have this experience at nighttime; however, after the cliff roads on the way to the rainforest, we think we’re happy we couldn’t see what was happening.

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Cajamarca – End of the Inca Empire

Cajamarca is a cute town set into the mountains in northern Peru at about 2,750 meters (9,022 feet) elevation. We arrived at 5:30 in the morning fresh off the night bus and began our now familiar early morning trek to the hostel. Our hostel was located just outside the main city and we were the only people staying there, so we were able to get into our room early. The owner of the hostel made us scrambled eggs and served coffee for breakfast and then we took a nap.

We had ended up in Cajamarca mostly because Jess had read in a blog that it was one of the nicest cities in northern Peru, and Jess was under the (very much mistaken) impression that Chachapoyas was only 40 minutes away. It’s actually a 12-hour very curvy, possibly dangerous, cliff-edge bus ride away, but you know…close.

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Relaxing in a Northern Peru Beach Town

Our taxi arrived at the appointed time and whisked us away to the Cusco airport for our flight to Trujillo. This was our first flight since arriving in South America and it was confusing to be in an airport again. We boarded our uneventful flight to Lima and then went in search of the VIP lounge at the Lima airport for our three-hour layover. Eric couldn’t quite believe his eyes when he saw delicious food, beautiful cocktails, and showers, all for free! (Thanks Chase Sapphire Reserve!) It was only 9:30am, but it seemed like a good opportunity to take advantage of a free pisco sour. By 1pm, we had arrived in Trujillo and were taking a taxi to the small nearby beach town of Huanchaco.

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Adventures in the Peruvian Rainforest

Excursions to the Peruvian rainforest are pretty expensive – we’re talking $520 per person for a four-day, three-night excursion, which is over double our daily budget. However, we had heard about Nils’ and Laura’s Brazilian rainforest adventure and we wanted a similar experience. After much searching, we found an obscure reference to a work/travel option in a Tripadvisor forum. Jess did a little more digging and found some positive feedback on the owners of the company and a link to their website. They offered a five-day, four-night work/travel adventure for $260 per person. We would have to sleep in a tent, and we would be expected to work a bit on conservation projects, i.e. planting trees, in the mornings, but that seemed like a reasonable trade for an experience that was now only slightly over budget.

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WWOOFing in Abancay

We caught the bus to Abancay for another WWOOFing opportunity without really knowing what we would be arriving to. We’d had a miscommunication with our original intended host, Karol, who now had some French WWOOFers arriving and didn’t have room for us in his house. He felt bad reneging on his “agreement” with us even though it was our fault for not being more responsive, so he offered we could stay in a “tree house” with his friend who also does WWOOFing.

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Bolivia Hop to Peru

We heard about Bolivia Hop from Sophia, the woman we met on our walking tour in Sucre, and we thought it sounded like a fun way to see Lake Titicaca while crossing the border from Bolivia to Peru. Bolivia Hop is a recent expansion of Peru Hop and so far only goes to Copacabana and La Paz. Peru Hop has seven destinations in southern Peru and you can hop on and off along the route and stay as long as you like in between.

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A Final Week in Bolivia’s Capitals

We spent our last week in Bolivia exploring Bolivia’s two capitals: Sucre and La Paz. The two cities have a strong rivalry regarding their status as THE capital of Bolivia. In Sucre we learned the constitution designated Sucre as the capital, but in 1899 the government moved the Legislative and Executive branches to La Paz for economic reasons leaving only the highest courts in Sucre. Sucre claims this makes La Paz only an administrative capital, and Sucre remains the true capital. Officially, Sucre is right but it doesn’t stop the inter-city debate. For us it wasn’t that important since we were visiting both.

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