Tombs of the Cloud Forest
HIGH in the hills of Peru's northern Cloud Forest in Revash is a collection of tombs.
They date from the pre-Inca Chachapoya civilization and sit on the edge of a limestone cliff.
Built from mud-set stones the tombs resemble houses and form a miniature village stretching along the cliff face.
Although these fascinating tombs were looted long ago the buildings are still in good condition and the bright red and white decor is still clearly visible.
In the 1980's archaeologists found 12 skeletons, tools made from bone and musical instruments.
There are also paintings of animals, men and geometric designs, while some bones still litter the inside.
The tombs were one of several burial methods used by the Chachapoya.
Their mausoleums were not used individually but were collective tombs for the wealthy and powerful in their society.
After a very winding drive through hills punctuated with beautiful mountain views we stopped at the village of San Bartolo.
From here the trail to the mausoleums on the well maintained and mostly paved path is a 40 minute walk getting steeper and uneven towards the end.
At altitude 2800 metres the walking was reasonably difficult but well worth every step.
The tombs are very photogenic and seem to pop out of the grey and green cliffs.
Leymebamba museum was built to showcase and preserve archaeological finds recovered in 1997 and the highlights are the amazing mummies around 600 years old and very well preserved.
There are 260 and comprise animals, adults, children and even babies.
The museum design reflects local architectural traditions with regional building techniques and materials used in construction.
Gardens filled with rich and varied native flora surround the museum while an orchid garden displays more than 100 native species.
If you don't mind a bit of strenuous effort this is definitely a very special experience that extends way beyond the ordinary tourist track.
It's well worth stepping outside your boundaries.