The Amazonas region of Peru; A name that conjures visions of dense rainforests, wide rivers, exotic animals, and lush green landscapes. That is exactly what we encountered as we sought out a variety of archeological sites, cloud forests and towering waterfalls on our Epic Trails episode shoot in Peru.
Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:
A short flight northwards from Lima is the city of Jaen. Flying directly to the Amazonas region capital of Chachapoyas is also an option, but starting in Jaen allowed our team to see a bit more of the regional landscape during an adventurous 5 hour drive. José of Turismo Explorer, an Amazonas local and knowledgeable guide, was our driver and living History Channel, feeding us endless information about the terrain and sites as we stopped at lookouts and vistas en route to Chachapoyas.
“Amazonas is one of Peru’s less visited regions simply because Peru is home to so many great spots. But that doesn’t mean Amazonas isn’t just as exciting as the more famous Cusco area or the absurd mountains of Ancash, both of which I was fortunate to have just explored.”– Eric Hanson
My goal for this trip was to explore the cloud forest of Peru’s north, trek to see the ancient cities of the region, and see the world’s third tallest waterfall, Gocta falls. This would be made possible with the planning and support of our guide José and the Turismo Explorer team. Since the pandemic began, he has been regularly visiting archeological sites popular with tourists to find them overgrown with the decline of foot traffic. Something we would soon see up close.
After a relaxing day at José’s hostel, Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostal Boutique, we set off for the Belén Valley. Led along a rigorous trail that meandered up and over ridges and through valleys, I learned the histories of the many Inca and pre-Inca cities that were now being swallowed up by the jungle. Muddy, wet conditions did make the trail slippery and strenuous, with the myth of the Amazonas region as being flat was quickly dispelled within the first mile of the trail.
After a challenging first day, the team descended down into a small village en route, where gracious hosts offered a room in their home with a cozy bed and shower. There was also an amazing show of true community spirit as there was a fundraising soccer game for a little girl in the village who was suffering from a cancerous tumor—a humbling experience putting the days challenges into perspective.
The next day, José led us out of the charming village to on a true mission–climb 5,000 feet up, ascending out of the valley and back up into the cloud forest. Along the trail were more lost cities that without a worthy guide, you’d likely miss altogether.
“Come over here.” José said as he peeled back a blanket of vines. “Look at this. It’s pre-Inca.”
And sure enough, there was an ancient wall whose stonework was still impeccable even after all the centuries of earthquakes, pouring rain, and creeping vines and tree roots trying their best to consume the walls.
“There were dozens, even hundreds of rooms here.” José said. “You can still see the levels of the city. The upper levels of course we’re for the most important people.”
The Amazonas region is a haven for those who enjoy archaeology and history. Here, you’ll find many ancient cities, impressive tombs, and cities of the dead spread all throughout the region which hold sacred burial sites. They are a spooky yet beautiful reminder of the length’s humans go to honor the dead.
Continuing the trip through the canyons of the cloud forest, we encountered a variety of beautiful waterfalls, including the towering Gocta Falls. It wasn’t until 2004 that a foreign traveler noticed the exceptionally large waterfall and came to find out that it is the third tallest waterfall in the world!
The Epic Trails crew and I left Amazonas with an appreciation and wonder for the region. This diverse, and interesting destination is far more beautiful than you may expect. Peru does not disappoint. It only invites you deeper into our beautiful world and the next region around the corner.
About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at email@example.com.