Karajia – Northern Highlands

There are quite a few ruins and other archeological sites in Peru that are much older than what Peru is most famous for, Machu Picchu. They are remnants of a civilization who inhabited the land before the emergence of the Incas. In the Northern Highlands there are several very interesting sites and we decided to visit a few of them. The first one is near the little hamlet of Cruz Pata, as we drove through the long valley south along the Rio Utcubamba we looked up to the mountains on both sides and saw the windy roads snaking their way up to the high plateaus. Up there is a different world, sleepy towns, friendly people walking along the roads, the women usually spinning with their spindles or knitting while they walk and socialize. Children splashing in the creek and men plowing the fields with teams of oxen. We always greet and wave to the people we pass and most of the time they wave back. At Cruz Pata we parked, a local lady charged us 5 soles per person to hike to the canon where the six sarcophagi are situated. A one hour nice hike down brought us the a cliff where we got a great view of the figures are sitting on a ledge overlooking the valley. They are long faced human figures made out of straw and clay supported by a wooden frame, much like the houses. Behind the figures are their coffins that house(d) mummies. A very impressive site, the rock cliff is also home to a flock of green parrots as well as a pair of falcons, their nest is perched under an overhang. Two little heads were eying us strange tourists as we walked underneath. The hike back was steep and two ladies came down with their horses to offer us a ride up, it is a way for them to make a few extra pennies. Günter did a lot of driving on crazy roads that day, because we decided not to stay, but instead drove back to down to the river valley and up the next dirt road, to mountaintop fortress Kuelap, our next destination.

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Tourist at Cruz Pata

 

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Red spectacled parrot

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