Sunrise over the Lost Kingdom of the People of the Clouds - Kuelap
Atop a cliff face overlooking the Utcubamba Valley below, the forgotten fortress of Kuelap occupies a strategic location that vies for the most inimitable citadel honour with the more famous Machu Picchu in South America.
Predates the Incan Empire by almost 600 years, the Chachpoyas crowns its engineering know-how in this rugged mountainous landscape with this massive structure which measures 600m long with a wall rising up to 19m in height. Inside are at least 400 buildings for a population measured at around 2,000 people. This remarkable civilization saw its demise when its southern neighbour, the advancing and conquering Incan empire finally reached this part of peru in the 15 century.
I caught the first bus leaving the provincial capital Chachapoyas at 4 in the morning and managed to arrive for this beautiful sunrise 2 hours later.
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South America makes up the southern half of the Americas and a large part of Latin America. It's home to the world's longest mountain range, biggest waterfall and largest river -- even these mammoths pale in comparison to the stunning variety of life forms thriving in the rainforest.
To the northwest, off the coast of Ecuador, lie the Galapagos Islands, which are unique for hosting species not found anywhere else on earth. These were the subject of study for Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution, which he himself said will require proof in every single case.
The main languages in South America are Spanish and Portugese, which basically tells you which European countries colonized the place. The South American wars of independence took place over two decades in the early 19th century, led by Simon Bolivar of Venezuela and Jose san Martin of Argentina.
Following liberation from Portugal and Spain, South America took off into its own development, capitalizing on the rich deposits of oil, gold, copper, silver and tango musicians.
Brazil is the largest country in South America and home to one of the world's best parties, Carnaval. Have you heard of samba music? How about bossa nova? Maybe dancing for three days straight?
I can't say enough good things about South America. All the world's continents have amazing secrets and treasures laying in wait for your discovery, but in South America... just have a look at our pictures while you're waiting for online confirmation of your plane tickets to hit your inbox.
Text by Steve Smith.