The experience is superb and a “must do”. I couldn’t find the detail of how tours worked when we were researching/booking. So I describe it here.
Most importantly, tours don’t run on a Monday. The cable car is closed every Monday in 2018. So the tour operators don’t offer tours. My summation is that this means Tuesdays and perhaps Sundays are a bit busier than other days.
The cable car closes for a week in February for maintenance. Don’t know when that week will be scheduled in 2019.
Timetable as follows:
8:15 am pick up from hotel
9;00am All the people on the tour eventually picked up(15), bus full and we left for Nuevo Tingo.
10:00 Arrived Nuevo Tingo and visited restaurant to book lunch for later in the day. Included lunch is the 15 soles options which is most of the options on the menu.
10:30 - 11:30take small bus to cable car and then 20 minute cable car ride to Kuelap station.
11:30. Use the facilities at the Kuelap cable car station as there are none at Kuelap fortress !!!
11:30 - 12:00 Walk from cable car station to Kuelap fort. Its a rise of about 200 metres over 1.5(?) Kilometres of paved pathway with steps. There is a horse option that wasn’t available on the day of our visit as too wet. Air is thinner at 3000 metres. Slow and steady is the trick.
12:00-2:00. Walk around the fortress and through the fortress. Lots of stops and explanations from guide. Many reviews say no other visitors here. Visitor numbers have doubled in past two years. So we saw quite a number of groups.( we did go on a Tuesday though!!). The sites are the stars, there are no artefacts to view, no museum. And the sites are limestone walls with no adornment ( OK 3 tiny bits of adornment...don’t blink or you will miss it)
2:00 - 3:30 Back from fortress to restaurant at Nuevo Tingo. Lunch served at 3:30. For us that was late for lunch. We wish we had taken a bag of nuts and some fruit with us to keep us going. Lunch was two course and very good. We had one of the standard (included ) offers which was , pumpkin soup and then grilled trout with carbohydrates.
4:30- 5:30 drive back and dropped off in centre of Chachapoyas.
People of the clouds. Clouds certainly prevalent on our trip which makes fantastic photos. But brings rain. We each had a light raincoat and used them. You can buy plastic ponchos at the top of cable car station for 6 soles. Sun can be aggressive here. So sun block advisable even for the very few minutes we saw the sun. I wore T shirt, light jumper, light jacket and raincoat. Our trip was early April and it was cool. It rained a lot. We saw no mosquitos. We wished we had brought a snack with us. We did have hats. Wear sensible shoes as it is slippery and uneven.
Once bus gets underway we were asked to fill in our name age and passport number on a manifest. No one added their passport number and I cant recall if it was required for the booking. We did always carry a photocopy of our passports. We don’t want to be on the bus the one day the police decide to be annoyingly thorough.
We booked our tour with Via Kuelap. 100 soles per person included all transport, cable car, entrance fees, guide, lunch. All the tours we looked at seemed similar. We booked a more expensive one in hope there would be fewer people. That was our mistake. The agencies consolidate you onto one bus. We were two of four people given bottles of water when we got on the bus. So that told me we had paid too much!! But too much is minor and irrelevant in the scheme of things.Our guide was Daisy.I thought she was excellent. Her accent was nice and clear and she spoke slowly enough and her knowledge was good/ very good if less than excellent. I should say she was Spanish only.
100 soles for what you get here is incredible value. AUD 40 . The journey is spectacular and of course Kuelap is also spectacular. Wow !!!
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