This in depth exploration of Northern Peru delves deeper into the past of this fascinating country and sets off to explore some of the lesser visited ancient attractions and learn about Pre-Inca civilisations.
Start your trip in Lima with a visit to the excellent Larco museum for the perfect historical introduction to the areas that you go on to visit in Northern Peru. Depart the capital and fly to Trujillo in the arid Valle de Moche, where you visit the Sun and Moon Temples to learn about the ancient Moche civilisation which flourished around 100-800 AD. A vast range of artefacts are a view into their lives from hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice and elaborate ceremonies. Other visits include the vast adobe city of Chan Chan; built during the Chimu period this is the largest pre-Columbian era city in South America. As you travel from Trujillo up the desert coastline to Chiclyao stop in at El Brujo archaeological complex, and see the well-preserved, cloth-swaddled body of the Lady of Cao. Though shrouded in mystery, the presence of weapons in her burial suggests she was a high-ranking individual in the Moche Culture. From Chiclayo you continue your journey through the Moche period of history with visits to the mud brick burial platform at Huaca Rajada, and and the Lord of Sipan tomb. The 26 Pyramid site of Tucume and a taste of the Lambayeque culture concludes your time exploring the desert kingdoms of the northern coast.
You leave the coastal cities behind and head inland to explore the state of Chachapoyas where some of Peru's most impressive and least known sites are located. With a lodge close to the Gocta Falls as your base or in a valley just outside of Chachapoyas, you head out each day to the different highlights of the region. These excursions include the imposing Kuelap fortress consisting of more than 400 circular dwellings, topped with thatched roofs and decorated with zig-zag and rhomboid friezes. This hugely significant site was only discovered in 1843, and the scenic cable car across the deep valley of Utcubamba makes for a stunning arrival. Other visits take you through cloudforests to the village of Leymebamba, and the museum housing over 250 mummified remains from the Chachapoyan culture and to the precariously located mountain face mausoleums of Revash, as well as the 2.5m high Sarcophagi of Karajia demonstrating the traditional burial methods of the time. Finally you visit the Gocta Falls, the third highest free leaping waterfalll in the world, and the natural highlight of the region. You can hike on a trail leading all the way to the water base, surrounded by some of the unique bird and wildlife of the Amazonas area.
Day 1 Depart from the UK today on your flights arriving into Peru. On arrival into Lima you are collected from the airport and driven to your hotel in the Miraflores district of the city, an area with a good range of accommodation, bars and restaurants.
Day 2 Today you explore the city of Lima and you visit both the modern and colonial parts of the city also known as the "City of Kings". You begin in the upmarket residential districts of Miraflores and San Isidro. The road passes the impressive Huaca Huallamarca pre-Incan site before making a stop at Parque del Amor in Miraflores where you soak in the magnificent views over the Pacific Ocean. Continue to colonial Lima’s downtown area including the Main Square before you conclude the tour with a stop at the Larco Museum. Here you find an exceptional private collection of more than 45,000 artefacts; known as the Treasures of Ancient Peru spanning more than five thousand years of the history. The museum is an excellent introduction to the periods of history that you learn more about later in your trip.
Day 3 Today you take the short flight north to the city of Trujillo with it's fine colonial centre full of conquistador history. The town was founded in 1534 by Diego Almagro and retains a unique Spanish feel. The wide plazas are lined with elegant mansions featuring wrought-iron grills, wooden balconies and many buildings are painted pretty pastel colours. You are given an introductory tour of the city on arrival from Lima.
Day 4 Today visit the archaeological highlights in and around Trujillo City. First you visit the Sun and the Moon pyramids, the original centre of power in the Trujillo Valley during Moche times and these huge structures are made up almost entirely of individually made Mochica mud bricks. Continue into the Chimu culture with visits to the “Arco Iris Temple” or “Dragon ceremonial Temple”, before you head to the seaside town of Huanchaco to see the local fishermen on their traditional “Caballitos de Totora” reed boats. You have lunch overlooking the sea, before you visit the ancient mud-brick City of Chan Chan, and ancient capital of the Chimu empire. Originally home to 100,000 inhabitants who stubbornly resisted the expansion of the Inca Empire, the remains of Chan Chan, are well preserved and the adobe structures offer a fascinating insight into this period in Peruvian history.
Day 5 Today you are driven north up the Desert coastline towards Chicalyo. Located at 34 Km north of Trujillo in the Chicama Valley the El Brujo pyramid rises about 98 feet above the surrounding desert and covers an area of roughly 330 by 330 feet. It was built with thousands of adobe bricks and the walls are covered with polychrome reliefs that show war themes, fauna, flora and net-fishing representations. Just some years ago, a well preserved tattooed mummy of a young woman, who belongs to the Moche Royalty, has been discovered deep inside El Brujo pyramid. She has been called “Señora de Cao” and she is exhibited in the Lady of Cao Museum. After your visit you drive approximately 3 more hours on to Chiclayo city.
Day 6 Today you explore the archaeological highlights around the city of Chiclayo. In the morning you are collected and taken to the magnificent mud-brick burial platform of Huaca Rajada where the world famous Tomb of the Lord of Sipan was discovered. Here there are fabulous gold artefacts on display and various precious significant to the ancient Moche civilization’s history. Next you continue towards Túcume, an imposing 26 pyramid site of the Lambayeque culture. Afterwards, visit the brand new Tumbas Reales Museum before you stop for lunch, and then return to your Chiclayo hotel later in the afternoon.
Day 7 This morning you are transferred to Chiclayo airport where you board your flight to Jaen via Lima, and the entry point for the Amazonas region. You are met at the small airport of Jaen, and driven approximately 3 hours towards the town of Chachapoyas. You can choose to stay either close to Gocta with views across the valley to the falls, or alternatively near the town of Chachapoyas in an attractive lodge by the Utcubamba River.
Day 8 Today you are taken on the impressive trails towards the Gocta Falls. You start your trail on the Cocachimba route passing across sugar cane fields until you reach a cloud forest area rich with flora and fauna, but particularly look out for bird life. The views across to the falls are spectacular throughout the walk, and a local guide accompanies you along the way to explain about the delicate ecosystem that surrounds the area, as well as the history of its community and the waterfalls, said to be the third tallest in the world.
Day 9 Today head south and explore the area south of Chachapoyas. You are driven towards the town of Leymebamba and your first stop is at the town's small Museum, a place dedicated to the Chachapoyan culture. In its five rooms you see the 261 mummys and 200 funeral accessories that are stored in the temperature controlled rooms. Next you continue towards the mausoleums of Revash, a site that belongs to t...
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