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Cumbemayo: the amazing stone forest hidden at the top of Cajamarca

Tierras Vivas Travel > Cumbemayo: the amazing stone forest hidden at the top of Cajamarca

In the middle of nature and at 3,500 meters above sea level. lies one of the most impressive places within Cajamarca, the Cumbemayo stone forest. This archaeological center located 40 minutes from the city, hides among its forests, lithic sculptures that adorn the great Cajamarca valley.

Rocks carved by erosion impress every tourist who visits these places, where the beginning of the pre-Inca aqueduct stands out, a work of hydraulic engineering that has existed for more than 3,000 years, whose length is approximately 8 kilometers.

From the beginning of the route you can see rock formations in the distance that beautify the view along with the blue sky. Stone figures such as rabbit, rooster, camel, rest on the top of each erosion, leaving more rocks to the imagination of each visitor.

Bordered by great vegetation, it hides within them caves with engravings or petroglyphs, which highlight their religious belief in the vital foundation of life, water.

Pre-Inca aqueduct

This impressive work, carried out by Cajamarcan ancestors, is expected to have been built around 1500 BC, and is considered one of the oldest existing structures in South America.

The stone canals extended along Cumbemayo, make up one of the legacies left in the Peruvian Andes that are preserved to this day, under the protection of the Ministry of Culture.

Given what has been found over time within this archaeological site, what stands out is the engravings on the stones that border the aqueduct, which have been the subject of research for various archaeologists.

The finds such is the altar, sacrificial table, stepped stones and several engravings sculpted on the stones suggest that an Andean sanctuary was offered as a thank you to the gods for the arrival of water to the lands of Cajamarca.


The renowned stone forest was discovered by chance, when in 1937, a worker from the San Cristóbal hacienda, where Cumbemayo belonged at that time, was carrying out his cleaning duties.

After revealing this space with dazzling lithic figures, the archaeologist Julio C. Tello, in that same year, took the lead in slowly investigating the complex and revealing each of the secrets that he kept in its corners.

A destination that, without a doubt, leaves more than one visitor amazed at the work of the first settlers and its splendid architecture, to make this place one of the favorites of tourists.

How to get?

The Stone Forest is 20 km away. southwest of Cajamarca, leaving on Avenida de Perú in the direction of the Bella Vista viewpoint, the city’s watchtower. From here we will continue going up the road until we reach 3,580 meters high where Cumbemayo is located.

The route

This brief excursion at altitude allows us to surround the most notable enclaves of Cumbemayo, the archaeological remains of a 9 km long aqueduct, a pre-Inca ceremonial altar and caves with engravings and petroglyphs. At the same time we can tour the narrow gorge made up of stylized rock formations, of volcanic origin, known as the Frailones.

The Cumbemayo stone forest is a captivating space, with a history that takes us to a ceremonial center of great importance in ancient times that encompasses different cultures, from Cajamarca, through Chavín to the Incas. Currently it is still a pilgrimage center for all types of visitors who choose it to camp because of its aura of mystery and mysticism.

Best Tours in Cusco

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.

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