Away from the much visited tourist centers of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Colca Canyon, is the very varied and surprising north of Peru. From ancient pyramids to surf beaches, and the best mountaineering in South America, North Peru makes a great addition to your Peru vacation. Get off the beaten track and away from the crowds in adventurous North Peru.
Heading up the coast the first major city is Trujilo. Peru’ s third city has probably the most impressive main square in the country. Nearby are some beautifully restored colonial mansions such as Casa Ganoza Chopitea . The main reason to visit, though, are the incredible pyramids made by the Moche people around 1500 years ago. The tombs, called Huacas, were built to house important members of society along with belongings, servants and family members; much as the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt did. In Huaca de la Bruja are the remains of an important female shaman and in Huaca de la Luna has incredible, intact, colorfully painted friezes; preserved for centuries by the dry desert. The main part of the largest adobe city ever built still stands at coastal Chan Chan. The Chimu civilization who lived here before the Incas decorated their city with dramatic shapes and symbols; all easily visited from Trujilo.
Chiclayo is also a good place for visiting Moche pyramids including one of the most important finds of modern times. At the Lord of Sipan site, archaeologists unearthed a treasure trove of gold, silver, pots and even some weavings. All these are on display at the purpose built museum in Lambayeque; and the Huaca of Sipan itself has a small but very informative museum. On a visit to Chiclayo, don’t miss the wonderful reserve of Chaparri to spot all manner of wildlife including the Specactled Bear ; the Paddington of Peru.
Huaraz is a small town in the Andes that has become world famous as the access point to the best mountaineering in South America. It is the location of Peru’s best school for mountaineering guides and a Mecca for lovers of trekking and climbing. Huayhuash is the location of a stunningly beautiful 8-10 day trek as well as the incredible story of Joe Simpson in ‘Touching the Void’. Peaks in the Cordillera Blanca include what’s known as the most beautiful mountain in the world: Alpamayo. Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru, and Pisco, a popular climb for beginning mountaineers, are also accessed from Huaraz. The 4-5 day Santa Cruz trek is popular and there are some beautiful day trips to lakes, mountains and glaciers in the area.
Ask about tours to Chachapoyas, Huaraz and Mancora
The Chachapoyan people were ‘the people of the clouds’ and the city of the same name is a pretty place located in the cloud forest, a 8 hour drive from the coast of Peru. Few visitors get this far but numbers are growing as more and more people are enchanted by this very laid back and friendly place. There re plenty of possibilities for horse riding, hiking and Indiana Jones-style exploring here. If you are looking for untouched, centuries-old ruins, just peeking out of dense forest; then take the trek to Kuelap and watch out for hidden forts. Kuelap itself is a stunning, extensive site perched on a mountain top. Unlike Machu Picchu, Kuelap has been left mainly as it was. Although dubbed the ‘Machu Picchu of the north, Kuelap is hardly visited by tourists; most visitors being Peruvians.
At the end of all that exploring you’ll want to rest on a beach. Mancora has year round sun shine, excellent sea and kite surfing and some funky beachfront hotels and spas.
Think out of the box and look into North Peru as a real alternative for your Peru vacation!