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Kuelap: Indiana Jones' Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors by:Thomas Carroll

Kuelap: Indiana Jones' Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors by:Thomas Carroll

An ancient structure called Kuelap may have inspired the beginning of the movie "Raiders

of the Lost Ark." The novel tells us that Indiana Jones was looking for the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors in the Andes of Northern Peru. The Chachapoyans, which means "People of the Clouds," did exist and have left behind scores of ruins; most notably Kuelap "The Fortress of the Clouds."

A couple of hours from Chachapoyas city lies the fortress at 9,843 feet above sea level overlooking the Utcubamba Valley. This pre-Inca walled city is presumed to have taken over 200 years to build and millions of cubic feet of stone. Its size is enormously impressive at about 1,968 feet in length and 361 feet in width with walls reaching 60 feet high, making Kuelap one of the largest stone structures in South America and the world. An estimated 100,000 stone blocks compose the outer two defensive walls, which weigh an estimated 10,000 tons. Construction began in the 6th century AD and was occupied until the Early Colonial period (1532-1570).

This ancient structure was made known to the outside world in 1843 when Chachapoyan Juan Crisostomo Nieto made a survey of the site. Afterwards, people like Adolf Bandelier and Louis Langlois popularized the Fortress of the Clouds in the nineteen hundreds, trying to make convincing cases that it was more than a fortress as it could have also served as a refuge. The city was most certainly built with defensive tactics in mind to defend against the Huari, Incas and other threats.

The fortress has over 400 buildings inside 5 levels of walls complete with living quarters for thousands of residents. Symbolic figures still decorate some of the walls and human bones may be found inside of them. It's unique features cannot be compared with any of Peru's other archeological remains. Kuelap: Indiana Jones' Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors by:Thomas Carroll

Around 800 AD, the Chachapoyas (Sachapuyas) culture dominated the Chachapoyas region and reigned for over 4 centuries until their conquest by the Inca Yupanqui in 1452. The Incas used many of the Chachapoyas to help them build their own structures. The Chachapoyans of Kuelap had completely abandoned their city well before the arrival of the Spaniards, for reasons unknown. Behind the fortress are several ruins on various terraced levels, largely unexplored. The Chachapoyas region has roughly 1,000 registered archaeological sites, with scores of still undiscovered ruins left by the People of the Clouds.

Getting There

Until recently the Fortress of the Clouds was very isolated, offering its mystery only to the dedicated few who were willing to trek through treacherous terrain for days to reach the site. Now you can take a day tour to the ancient site from Chachapoyas city. It takes about one or two hours from Chachapoyas to get to the little town of Tingo. Then there is a 3 mile long trail where you have the option to hike, or to pay for a horse and its guide. The trek provides spectacular mountain scenery and views of other Chachapoyan ruins. Upon arrival to the People of the Clouds' masterpiece, you will be awed by its sheer size and have much of the day to explore this awesome wonder.Kuelap: Indiana Jones' Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors by:Thomas Carroll

The Fortress of the Clouds is the greatest discovered work built by the Chachapoyas. As you look over the beautiful Utcubamba Valley from the mountain plateau, you will contemplate the colossal enigma that is Kuelap, one of the New World's greatest ancient monuments.

About the author

Thomas Carroll was born in California and now lives in Lima, Peru. If you would like more information about Kuelap and Peru Vacation Packages then be sure to visit his blog.
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Kuelap: Indiana Jones' Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors by:Thomas Carroll