An area of stunning natural beauty and impressive archaeological ruins, as well as pretty colonial towns and cities, the northern highlands is surprisingly one of the least visited areas in Peru. This may be due to the relative inaccessibility of many of the main attractions of area, but this just adds to the charm of the region.
For those interested in archaeology, and even for visitors with only a passing interest, Chachapoyas offers some of the most impressive pre-Columbian architecture anywhere in Latin America, with the fortress of Kuélap rivalling Machu Picchu in stature and natural setting. Marcahuamachuco, near the town of Huamachuco, is an impressive pre-Inca ruin in very beautiful scenery, and the Río Abiseo National Park also has some important and impressive remains, and is a UNESCO Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site, only one of 23 locations world-wide to be both a natural and cultural heritage site.
Cajamarca is a historically important city, where the Spanish executed the Inca Atahualpa after he presented them with rooms filled with gold and silver. The ransom room can be visited, and the city also has many beautiful colonial buildings and churches. The city is one of the most beautiful in Peru, and has some fascinating archaeological remains, such as Combayo and the Ventanillas de Otuzco.
For those wanting more adventure, the beginning of the jungle, around Moyobamba and Tarapoto, is a region of spectacular waterfalls and natural pools for swimming. There is good white-water rafting in the area through some of the most beautiful river scenery anywhere in the world.
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