Overview

Introduction

Trujillo, Chiclayo, Cajamarca & Chachapoyas

Northern Peru is an intriguing region. The majority of visitors travel to the south of the country, therefore the north can be explored and appreciated with the rewarding sense of discovery! This area offers a wealth of pre-Inca archaeological sites and natural treasures, with new discoveries still being made.

Trujillo

Often cited as the capital of the north, Trujillo was founded on the orders of Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador. Today it is Peru’s third largest city and famed for its elegant colonial architecture, particularly around the main square Plaza Mayor, where colourful, old mansions and baroque churches can be viewed.

Trujillo is a perfect base from which to explore the amazing pre- Inca sites nearby. These include the Dragon / Rainbow Temple on the outskirts of the city, Chan Chan, a huge adobe city to the west and the impressive Moche pyramids, Huacas del Sol y Luna to the south east.

Trujillo also has some beaches nearby, popular with locals for their fish restaurants and good surf. Huanchaco is a lively resort to the north also famous for the tortora reed boats used by the local fishermen.

Today the Chicama Valley to the north of Trujillo is largely given over to sugar cane production. However, the valley also has many ancient sites including El Brujo. Paijan is also known for the elegant Pasofino horses.

Mancora

Tucked away close to the Ecuadorian border lies Mancora, a small rustic fishing town on the coast. Due to its northern location, the climate offers year round sun and high temperatures making it an excellent and relaxing beach destination. The beaches are some of the best in Peru and safe for swimming and surfers alike.

Between the peak months of December and March hotel availability can be an issue and it advisable to book well in advance.

Mancora town has a number of restaurants with a strong emphasis on fresh seafood. There are also a number of lively bars and café’s which can become busy during holiday periods and weekends. Our accommodation islocated approximately 10-25 minutes “moto taxi” (tuk-tuk) from the centre of Mancora.

Please note that coastal Northern Peru is a dry and arid region with a large number of sand dunes. As a result please do expect dense tropical vegetation with palm fringed beaches.

Chiclayo

Three hours drive from Trujillo, through a variety of landscapes including rice fields, sugar cane and cotton plantations is the busy, commercial city of Chiclayo. 

It is one of Peru’s fastest growing modern cities boasting distinctive cuisine, musical traditions (Marinera, Tondero and Afro – Indian rhythms) and a witch doctors market.  However, it is the history of the area that attracts most visitors. Increasing evidence is emerging of the successive ancient cultures that have flourished here, with some impressive archaeological sites and museums. Famous sites include: Tucume also known as the Valley of the Pyramids; and the tombs of Sipan.

The Bruning Museum and Museo de las Tumbas Reales de Sipan, both in the small town of Lambayeque, offer fascinating insights into the local ancient cultures.A visit to the local spectacled Bear Rescue Centre can also be arranged.

Cajamarca

Cajamarca, with its stunning mountain scenery, elegant colonial architecture and central plaza is often compared to Cusco in the  south of the country. However, the relaxed atmosphere and friendly inhabitants give a wonderful ‘off the beaten track’ feel to this interesting city.

A scattering of ancient sites in the local area aptly display evidence of ancient civilisations dating from the Chavin era (1200BC to 200AD).  Cajamarca was the scene of a horrific massacre of the Incas by the Spanish, and also the place where Atahualpa, the last Inca lord, was executed, despite fulfilling the ransom demanded for his release; filling a large room with gold and twice over with silver. Little is left of the Inca city, although a room where Atahualpa is said to have either been held captive or to have filled with precious metals, still stands and is open to the public. Today gold is still a feature of the city, it was recently discovered in the hills to the west of the city, which is gradually becoming the site of a huge gold mine.

Six kilometres east of Cajamarca are the Banos del Inca where Atahualpa was camped with his army when the Spanish arrived.  Dating from pre-Inca times, these baths, although unremarkable, remain popular with locals today. North of here is Otuzco, where there is a pre-Inca rock necropolis. Holes carved into the rock face mark the burial sites of an ancient civilisation. To the south west of the city is an area of distinctive rock formations known as ‘The Forest of Stones’, near to which is a remarkably engineered pre-Inca water canal known as Cumbe Mayo.

Well known for its local handicrafts especially textiles, ceramics and stone carving, Cajamarca also has a main market every day, as well as weekly herb and animal markets.

Chachapoyas

At 2334m above sea level and surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, Chachapoyas is the unlikely historical capital of the ‘Departmento de Amazonas’.  A pleasant town, most people visiting here do so to visit the remarkable Chachapoyan sites of the area dating from approximately 800AD. 

Kuelap is the most famous local ancient site but there are many interesting sites, and it is suspected that there are still more ‘lost cities’ yet to be discovered, particularly in the jungle areas. There are also fascinating natural sites. In the last few years the nearby Gokta Waterfall, was rediscovered and is now thought to be amongst the highest in the world.

Highlights south of Chachapoyas include the cliff face necropolis of Revash, (from the Revash culture approximately 1250AD), and staying at the Leymebamba Museum which displays mummies taken from the Inca jungle lake side burial site at Laguna de los Condores for safe keeping. The journey along the single track road through the mountains from Leymebamba to Cajamarca is also memorable for its stunning views.

Travelling in this area can often be difficult especially as not all the roads are tarmaced,and in the wet season (January – March) it is often impossible. However the rewards for those who want a sense of adventure are immense.

Read more

Traveller Tips

Chan Chan The largest adobe city in the world, Chan Chan dates from around 1100AD. Capital city of the Chimu empire that stretched approximately 1000km along the coast, the city walls enclosed an area of 28km². The ruins consist of nine huge compounds built by the Chimu kings, one of which is open to the public.


Kuelap A huge site often said to rival Machu Picchu in the sheer impressiveness of its size and stunning mountaintop location, Kuelap was built by the Chachapoyans over 200 years, from 900 – 1100AD. The ruins included a fortress, and many houses covered by trees and bromiliads.

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Peru boasts wonderful archaeological sites such as an Inca city suspended high in the cloud forest and its rainforest is home to an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife. It is also the foodie hub of South America.

Will Rist
Will Rist
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
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Time Difference

GMT - 6 hours

Currency

Nuevo Sol or US dollar

Language

Spanish

Average flight times

12 hours 30 minutes. BA direct flight from London Gatwick

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our Peru expert

Will Rist
Will Rist

Peru boasts wonderful archaeological sites such as an Inca city suspended high in the cloud forest and its rainforest is home to an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife. It is also the foodie hub of South America.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

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