Kuelap Fortress to become the second most visited site in Peru

New proposals to improve the region's infrastructure will mean serious business for the remote Kuelap Fortress in the northern Amazon.
by Kathleen McAfee

Current developments in northern Peru have put the pre-Inca Kuelap Fortress in the running to be one of the country’s top archaeological sites. Continued plans to improve transportation to these impressive ruins as well as international attention received from UNESCO are important contributing factors.

In the news: Kuelap, a hidden acheological treasure

Government officials in the northern Amazonian region of Chachapoyas are pushing for increased funding for infrastructure developments to increase the popularity of the spectacular archeological site, the Kuelap Fortress. The goal is to make Kuelap the second most visited attraction in Peru, behind Machu Picchu.

Kuelap Overlook, Peru, Peru For LessViews from the Kuelap ruins make you feel as though you are hidden in the shroud of the majestic Andes Mountains.
Photo by Graham Styles/Flickr

Built by the Chachapoya civilization, Kuelap Fortress was a political center for the pre-Inca society which flourished from roughly 900 A.D. to 1400 A.D. Nestled on the mountain side above the Utcubamba River Valley in northern Peru, the archeological site is about 600 meters (1,968 feet) long and the walls tower about 19 meters (62 feet) high.

Tourism officials estimate that Kuelap Fortress will receive approximately 84,000 visitors in 2014. It is expected that this number will rise between 8 and 10 percent with the introduction of infrastructure development projects.

Those in favor of the developments have pointed out that there are a wealth of natural wonders in the region, but they are currently under appreciated due to the remoteness and lack of infrastructure connectivity.

A ride to the top

The most notable improvement to infrastructure to directly impact Kuelap Fortress is the proposed installation of a cable car system to carry visitors from the town of El Tingo to the archeological site. The cable car system will stretch about 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) up the mountain side.

Kuélap, Peru, Peru For LessKuelap Fortress sits about 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above the Utcubamba River Valley in the northern Amazon region of Chachapoyas.
Photo by Andreas Kambanis/Flickr

There is also discussion to expand the airport at Chachapoyas to receive more flights and larger aircraft. This would mean facility improvements as well as extending the runways by nearly 500 meters (1,640 feet). While cost has been an ongoing concern, the plans are supported by a number of major airline operators. LAN Peru has had the most active voice expressing interest in the project.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate

Kuelap, Peru, Peru For LessThe walls of the fortress display thousands of stone carvings such as the one above.
Photo by Jorge Gobbi/Flickr

Further initiatives to bring more attention to Kuelap Fortress have been headed by Peru’s Ministry of Culture jointly with Japanese International Cooperation Agency to announce the candidacy of the Kuelap Fortress as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The inclusion of the site will help it gain international recognition as well as provide a forefront for much needed infrastructure development projects in the region, which will be primarily contracted by Japanese construction companies.

A deeper look at Kuelap

More pictures of Kuelap Fortress
Kuelap in the news (Peru This Week)

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