Kuelap – Pre Inca Ruins

Since we left the USA to drive down the the tip of South America, we’ve learned about many, many pre-European, indigenous civilizations. We’ve seen so many amazing ruins that prove without a doubt that before the Spaniards arrived, there were thriving cultures in the Americas. Here is a quick recap of our top ruin visits to date:

Palenque, Mexico – A brown powered world 
Tikal, Guatemala – The greatest of the Mayan ruins
Copan, Honduras – Tomorrow’s ruins
Moche, Peru – Sex, Blood, and El Brujo

Next on our list was to visit Kuelap, a pre-Inca ruin in the very remote mountains of Northern Peru. Here lived the Chachapoyas people, which, when translated in Chachapoya, means “the cloud people.”  And they truly lived up in the clouds….

These people built a mighty fortress on the top of a mountain where over 2500 people lived.

Because of the strength of this fortress and the will of the people who built it, the Inca and the Spanish had a very hard time ever truly conquering the Chachapoyas. There were only five doors into the fortress and they were all ingeniously designed to be very narrow. This forced would-be attackers into single file lines making them easy to pick-off as they intruded the village.

Within the walls of Quelap, the families lived in round huts with only one window and a ledged roof, each respectively designed to retain heat and collect rainwater.  They were ‘green’ long before ‘going green’ was cool.

Here you can see an intact window from a home…

The construction of Kuelap is pretty amazing. Families from all of the neighboring tribes handmade adobe bricks and then carried them to the mountaintop to collectively create the community.

Spooky misty mystical mountains…

Sadly, there isn’t a lot of knowledge about the pre-Incan Chachapoya culture since 1) they left no written record, 2) when the Incas conquered them, they did their best to force the people to conform to the Inca culture, and 3) when the Spaniards conquered them, they burned all but the stone straight to the ground and killed everyone who chose not to be baptized and serve Spain.

On a lighter note…

Next up, we go to visit the 3rd highest waterfall in the world..Cascadas Gocta!!!



  1. Beautiful Beautiful.

  2. Guys I just found out that there are Myan ruins in Georgia. It blew my mind. No I am not slow. I know that the Mayan and Inca Empires are separate things. However isn’t that interesting. Apparently when the Mayan world starting going to shit some upper middle class folks jumped ship and ran north all the way to Georgia. Crazy.
    Miss yall

  3. Hey you guys,
    Com- on man get over the spelling thing. See the forest through the trees .Let go of ego.
    WOW!! so much to absorb. Tree I found the video thanks (Joe Rogan.). This whole thing is so awesome and like I say Iam truly blessed and always look forward to your blogs. Once again you have inspired me in so many ways.Gotta go,much to learn. Gonna immerse myself in the past blogs and play catch-up.
    Never know Tree might throw a curve ball quiz. I love to be learn about all the trippy things especially ancient civilizations.Ya’ll rock Carry on.


  4. Dragon, you might want to investigate a bit further. You can start here http://www.mountainx.com/article/38687/Mayan-ruins-in-Georgia-An-unorthodox-theory-generates-Internet-buzz

    Beautiful photos you guys. Have you seen the Andes flamingos yet?

  5. Dragon,
    you might want to research your internet claims before passing them on. This is a good place to start http://www.mountainx.com/article/38687/Mayan-ruins-in-Georgia-An-unorthodox-theory-generates-Internet-buzz.

    I love your recent photos; aren’t those bromeliads gorgeous! have you come across the Andes flamingos yet?

  6. Thanks Corrin. It sounds like there is a lot of debate on the subject.

  7. Thanks for the pre-trip education guys. Looking forward to catching them all on our way down later this year!!!

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