North Peru is maybe the less travelled region in Peru. Nevertheless, north Peru possesses a wide variety of climate zones, natural marvels and historic sites. The region is not the easiest to travel overland as it is mainly made up out of the high Andes mountains quickly rising up to almost 7000 meters and then as abruptly going down to the humid dense forest of the Amazon basin. North Peru is a miracle of small villages, interchanging climates and countryside’s like you can see in few countries around the world. It is actually a sample of the whole of Peru as it possesses most of Peru’s treasures in smaller but not less impressive form.
Going up from the North Peru coast to the high Andes, Peru’s highest mountain can be found around the Huaraz area at about 8 hours north of Lima, you will reach the higher points in the Andes quite quick as the mountain range is relatively thin at most places. After going up the descent is a bit slower as the western slopes of the Andes, reaching into the Amazon Basin are more gradually going down, creating beautiful patches of towns located in one climate zone meanwhile a town at a couple of kilometers have a much more tropical climate. This area is also known for its waterfalls. The large quantity of water coming down from the Andes, flowing to the mighty Amazon River, makes it that the altitude differences on many occasions are defeated by beautiful waterfalls in green oasis’s around North Peru.
Most villages are quite small in this region and transport is done partially by road and partially by boat the more you get into the Amazon Basin. The biggest city in Northern Peru is also the biggest jungle city unreachable by road, namely Iquitos, one of the worldwide Amazon Capitals of the world. Iquitos can be reached by river from Yurimaguas, a 3 day trip on a cargo boat on the Amazon River. Even though Iquitos is located in the north, we will deal with it closer when talking about the Amazon.
City wise, as said before North Peru may not be the most interesting region, but this is made up by the large variety of villages and people inhabiting them. As this region provides a more or less easy pass through the Amazon, the region has for ages seen migration from the coast to the jungle and vice versa, creating an amazing mixture of people and cultures inhabiting these regions. You can not only see it in the people and the festivals but also in the food as they use a wide variety of ingredients from all over the country.
Another mayor site in the region is the Kuelap fortress. This fortress built at about two hours from Chachapoyas, was home to the Kuelap civilization. A pre Colombian culture from which even today is little known. The fortress is quite the impression of what this culture was capable of. Nowadays excavations go still on in the region and more and more sites are being found. This leaves many archeologists with the question if this civilization ever was in touch with the Inca civilization.
So if you are up for the challenge of travelling somewhat less comfortable and have the time to get to know a great part of Peru, where contact with the local population is not a question but a must, then why wait…North Peru can offer it all….