Town and Valley of Atuen

To get to the town of Atuén from Leymebamba, enter by a detour on the highway that leads to Cajamarca on an unpaved road, crossing the Atuén River Valley.

The Atuén River Valley is an impressive valley surrounded by its imposing mountains of natural forest. These are home to an infinity of birds that are a must for observation. In addition, the valley holds innumerable archaeological remains that exist in the high areas, such as Monte Viudo, La Petaca, Bóveda, Diablo Wasi, La Joya, among others. All of these can be reached by walking.

Atuén is a town located in the Amazon Region, at a height of 3,450 meters above sea level. It is known as the place where the Utcubamba River is born. The town is pretty small as it is made up of a handful of houses.

Here we can appreciate the Sierpe lagoon, which shows signs of having had a dam in the past. It is even possible to appreciate some structure remains in the part where it drains. According to the ethno historian Peter Lerche: “Formerly there was a great Inca center in Atuén”. Today, only two Inca baths can be observed. Tradition says that Huayna Cápac spent several months in Atuén to heal from an illness. An hour from the town is the beautiful Mishacocha lagoon, whose waters filter to form Sierpe.

The agriculture production of Atuén is famous for its red, black and purple potatoes. All of them, known for being sandy, are highly coveted by farmers of the region who still barter with other communities. What they do lack is fruits, so those are privileged if a trade was to be made. The community is also organized to protect the trout that populates the waters of Sierpe, as it is their source of protein. To do so, they constantly make rounds to make sure that the closures are respected.

Gene Savoy, the legendary and controversial American explorer, passed Atuén many times, in search of some lost city.