Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Inca tunnels under Lampa, Peru

Coca leaves, money, smokes, and skulls. What better memorial?

Luckily we made a quick detour on our way to Bolivia otherwise we would have missed one of the most bizarre sites we have visited on this trip (and that's saying a lot). Ten miles down a dirt road past herds of alpacas and tumble-down buildings brought us to the rose-colored adobe town of Lampa, Peru. Dominating its central square is the 400 year old Church of the Immaculate Conception. At first glance it resembles one of the finer cathedrals in Cusco: gold plated altar, ornate wooden pulpit, bloody Jesus statues in glass boxes, and Virgin figurines in glittering robes. Things get weird when you descend down a claustrophobic stairway to the Inca tunnels below the church. Skulls and bones decorate the entrances to tunnels that supposedly lead all of the way to Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno (over 100 miles away). The story goes that years ago people tried to follow the tunnels to find out where they led...and they never were seen again!!! The tunnels have now been sealed off, so we'll never know. Climbing back out of the catacombs we next visited the newer chapel that was built when the church was restored in the 1970s. The architect thought it appropriate to dig up the bodies that were buried under the church so their bones could be used to decorate the temple. He then reserved the space at the bottom of the temple for his eventual final resting place. Interesting choice. Tomorrow we head for Bolivia.

Peering in to the depths of the tomb


  1. Hey Guys,

    Just found your blog through a Google search about poptop car tents. Sounds like you're having a great time on your trip.

    I'm living in Cochabamba at the moment(for the last 6 months), not sure if you're coming this way... but if you are maybe we could meet up for lunch. I'd really like to have a quick look at your roof set-up if you wouldn't mind. Thinking about modifying my Landcruiser :o)

    I'd be happy to give you a tour around the city as well if you want.

    If you're in a bind for camping here, I have a secure parking spot in a gated community as well that you're welcome to use.

    You can reach me at kayglenn [a]

    If we don't catch up, good luck with the rest of the trip.

    Cheers - Glenn

  2. Not sure if we're headed your way. We think we'll be driving from La Paz to Potosi and Sucre next, so it looks like Cochabamba may not be on our route. We'll let you know if our plans change though! Thanks for the camping offer - always looking for good spots.


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