Off the beaten track, the reason I made the trek to Chachapoyas was to visit the Kuelap ruins. The Chachapoyas area was inhabited by a pre-Inca civilisation known as the Chachapoyans, of whom not much is known. Peru tourism authorities would like to make Chachapoyas the second Cusco - as there are a number of fascinating ruins around the city, with Kuelap being the principal attraction.
Again, not much is known about Kuelap - it is a fortress built on top of a mountain ridge, very much like Machu Picchu. Unlike Machu Picchu, it is not as dramatic - nor does there seem to be any complex geometry. However, unlike Machu Picchu, it does seem to be a more functional complex, and in many ways a lot more accessible. While the fortress is slowly being restored, it has its own charm being largely unrestored - with trees and vegetation covering much of the ruins, one feels a lot like Indiana Jones.
Kuelap was definitely worth all the trouble to get to Chachapoyas. It still has a cloak of mystery surrounding it, and the high walls of the fortress, untouched by earthquakes and time, give it a feel of solidity. Once restored it will look spectacular, but I just hope that it does not become the tourist money making machine that is Machu Picchu.
Asher and I visited Kuelap with a Peruvian, Gabriel and his Dutch girlfriend, Marije. This allowed us to pool together for a taxi, instead of relying on tour guides based in Chachapoyas. At the moment, this is probably the best way to explore Kuelap, although it is possible to get there by public transport from Chachapoyas.