Hidden treasures of northern Peru
With over 5,000 years of history in Peru, the Inca Empire is just the tip of the iceberg! Head north and discover the pre-Inca archaeological treasures lying in the desert and its coastal valleys. Explore the Mochica pyramids, the huge mud-brick city of Chan Chan and the Tucume pyramids of the Sican people. Then, drive to the relatively unexplored Amazonas region. Cross the Andes to enter the cloud forest on a trip to Gocta Waterfall and Kuelap, a walled Chachapoya fortress that is known as the Machu Picchu of the north. Prepare to enter a land of hidden treasures in Northern Peru!
- Visit the most important Mochica temples in Trujillo
- Hike to Gocta waterfall, which plunges 2,530 feet (771 m)
- Take a cableway ride across the mountains to the fortress of Kuelap
Welcome to Trujillo and the Temple of the Moon
Welcome to Trujillo in Northern Peru! Upon arrival, we’ll welcome you at Trujillo’s airport or bus station and transfer you to our hotel, where we will take a few minutes to brief you on your upcoming program. Depending on our arrival time, we may have a free morning to relax at the hotel. In the afternoon, we’ll explore the Temple of the Moon, a pre-Hispanic mud pyramid, sacred to the Moche Civilization (100 – 750 A.D.) and famous for its stunning mural paintings, which have withstood the passage of time. These murals depict the daily lives of the Moche people as well as their main deities. The Moches (or Mochicas) are one of the most intriguing pre-Hispanic civilizations of Peru, and it’s fascinating to compare how different they were to the Incas.
Chan Chan, Peruvian Paso Horses and Huanchaco
Today, we’ll head to the largest mud-brick city of the Americas: Chan Chan. Once home to over 100,000 inhabitants, this place represents the resistance of the Chimu civilization to the expansion of the Inca Empire. Then, at around 1 pm, we’ll view a Peruvian Paso horse presentation and enjoy lunch. For centuries, these horses’ gentle pass has inspired dancers to perform beautiful movements in the romantic Marinera dance, a typical dance of Peruvian folklore which will also be performed here. Afterwards, we’ll continue to Huanchaco, a traditional fishermen’s beach town, well-known for its totora reed boats called locally “Caballitos de Totora” (Totora Reed Horses). These have been used for fishing and surfing since Pre-Hispanic times. Lastly, on our way back, we can stop for a while to explore the small, historical city center of Trujillo.
El Brujo Temple and journey to Túcume
This morning, we’ll set off for the pyramids of Tucume in the neighbouring region of Lambayeque. On route, we’ll also stop at the archaeological site “Huaca El Brujo”, an ancient mud stepped pyramid which rises 98 ft above the surrounding desert. El Brujo is famous for the discovery of The Lady of Cao (“Señora de Cao”), a mummified, tattooed young woman from the Moche Royalty who changed our modern perception of the role of women in pre-Hispanic societies. She is preserved and exhibited in the Cao Museum, which we’ll also visit. For lunch we’ll stop at the seaside town of Pacasmayo before continuing to our hotel in the tranquil village of Tucume, in the countryside of Lambayeque.
The Tucume Pyramids and the Tumbas Reales Museum
After breakfast, we’ll explore the archaeological site of Tucume, an imposing complex of the Lambayeque culture surrounded by arid desert and dry, tropical forest. This exciting tour includes a hike up to a lookout for a breathtaking view of Tucume, as well as a visit to the small, on-site museum. Our next stop for the day will be the superb “Tumbas Reales” Museum, where we’ll learn more about the Lord of Sipan, the most important archaeological discovery in Latin America during the last 30 years. This museum is considered among the top museums in the country, and has been highly praised internationally as well.
Heading to Cocachimba, Chachapoyas
Today we’ll travel by land on a 7-hour long scenic journey to the charming village of Cocachimba, stopping just about anywhere along the way to stretch our legs and enjoy the constantly changing landscapes. Be sure to have your cameras at hand – we’ll go from barren deserts to Andean peaks and cloud forest in the same day. Our private vehicle will pick us up early morning from the hotel in Tucume so that we can arrive at Cocachimba at around 3 p.m. and have a free afternoon to relax and enjoy the amazing views of Gocta Waterfall from our hotel.
This morning, after a good breakfast, we’ll go on a 2 to 3-hour hike (approximately 6 km) to the famous Gocta Waterfall, one of the highest on Earth (2530 feet in height). The trail crosses sugarcane fields and leads us to a misty cloud forest, home to the magnificent cock-of-the-rock. It’s a fantastic hike, and those brave enough may want to take a dip at the base pool of the waterfall when we finally get there (be warned – it’s cold!) Later, after soaking in the beauty of this magical place, we’ll hike back to our lodge in Cocachimba and get a good night’s rest.
Cableway to Kuelap Fortress
Today we’ll have an early pick-up service and head to the town of Tingo on an hour-long ride. This is where we’ll board our cable car to visit the spectacular historical site of Kuelap, ancient fortress of the Chachapoyas people with massive walls 65 ft high still standing today. History tells us that it was inhabited by the Chachapoyas for 400 years until the Incas took over in 1470, followed by the Spanish in 1534. Once we get off the cable car, we’ll walk 25 minutes to the site, which sits majestically above a mountain ridge at 9,500 ft. Nicknamed the “Machu Picchu of the North”, Kuelap will amaze you with its towering walls and round stone houses surrounded by cloud forest. The site also offers stunning views of the valley and the possibility for remarkable bird-watching. Our guided visit will last approximately 2 hours, after which we’ll head back to Cocachimba.
This morning, after seeing the best of Peru’s Northern treasures, we’ll head to Jaen Airport (about 4 hours away) to board our return flight to Lima and connect with your international flight home.