Known locally as the ancient wise men, the site now has 6 sarcophagi containing Chachapoyan mummies. Originally there were 7 but an earthquake toppled one.
The sarcophagi are around 2½m high, made of clay, sticks and grasses. They have been dated to 15th century, around the time of the Inca conquest of the Chachapoyans in 1470s.
The Cachapoyans had several levels or classes of burial. The 1st level used sarcophagi as at this site. The 2nd level burials were in mausoleums e.g. Mausoleums of Revash. So only the highest dignitaries of the Chachapoyas culture are buried at the site. Two of the sarcophagi are thought to be those of warriors – those with the skulls by them.
Chachapoyans buried their dignitaries in inaccessible places, oriented towards the east (the rising Sun) and close to water (for this site overlooking the Utcubamba River). They were not buried with valuables and thus with the inaccessible location were not troubled by looters.
Each sarcophagus contains a mummy in the foetal position. It is believed that one of the Karajía sarcophagi contains the high official of Kuélap.
The cliff face has other 2nd level burial sites and sarcophagi (or remnants) from the same era.
Karajía is the largest set of sarcophagi known today that remains intact.
From Chachapoyas, Colectivo to Luya. Where the Colectivo stops another Colectivo to Cruz Pata and then a short walk to see the sarcophagi. The visit could be done in a ½ day but it’s somewhere worth spending a bit of time at. There are tours but it’s easy to visit independently.
For other South American posts see South America Map.