High in the hills of Peru’s northern cloud forest in Revash a collection of tombs dating from the pre- Inca Chachapoya civilization sit on the edge of a limestone cliff. Built from mud-set stones, the tombs resemble houses and collectively form a miniature village stretching along the face of the cliff. Even though these fascinating tombs were looted long ago the buildings are still in good condition and amazingly, the bright red and white decor is still clearly visible today.
In the 1980s archaeologists found 12 skeletons here as well as tools made from bones and musical instruments. Aside from the actual structures there are also paintings of animals, men and geometric designs. Some bones still litter the inside of the tombs. The tombs were one of several burial methods used by the Chachapoya people. The mausoleums were not used individually instead they were collective tombs for the wealthy and powerful of their society.
After a very winding drive through the hills punctuated by beautiful mountain views, we stopped at the small 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. Once again at an altitude of 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. The highlight of this museum is the amazing mummies. There are about 260 in total and comprise of animals, adults, children and even babies. They are 600 years old and very well preserved.
The Museum’s design reflects local architectural traditions, with regional building techniques and materials used in its construction. Gardens filled with rich and varied native flora surround the museum, while an orchid garden displays more than 100 native orchid species.
If you don’t mind a bit of strenuous effort then this is definitely a very special experience that extends way beyond the ordinary tourist track and well worth stepping outside your boundaries.