The little-known north of Peru has some of the country's most spectacular pre-columbian ruins. From the charming colonial city of Cajamarca with its hot springs and Inca baths, to the impressive adobe city of Chan Chan near Trujillo or the largely unexplored ruins of the Chachapoyas region, explore Peru's diverse history, ancient cultures and traditional remote villages far from the crowds you will inevitably encounter in the south.
Northern Coast - Trujillo and Chiclayo
Trujillo, itself an attractive colonial city, is close to the adobe citadel of Chan Chan, capital of the ancient Chimu kingdom as well as the Temples of the Sun and Moon with their colourful frescoes. Or take a trip to nearby Huanchaco, a picturesque seaside village where traditional reed boats are still used by local fishermen as they have been for centuries. Further north near Chiclayo, you can explore pre-Inca sites and museums housing treasures discovered at sites where ancient civilizations flourished in the surrounding valleys. Most important of these are the pyramids of Tucume, the Royal Tombs of Sipan and the Bruning Museum, housing a fascinating collection of Chimu and Mochica artefacts.
You can also visit the fascinating recently discovered archaeological site of Caral by driving from Lima towards Trujillo, stopping at this site en-route. Heralded as the oldest civilization in Latin America, this fascinating site has few visitors and is yet to find its way on to the main toursit trail but we suspect it will not be long before it gets busier here.
Northern Highlands - Chachapoyas and Cajamarca
The Chachapoyas region heading towards the Andes is not yet really on the main tourist trail. Infrastructure is still basic so road journeys can be long and bumpy, usually by 4WD vehicle. However, for those with an adventurous spirit, your reward is ancient mountain top sites virtually to yourself and freindly remote villages where visitors are rarely seen but eagerly greeted.
Travel by 4x4 into the mountains to Kuelap, the mysterious citadel of the Chachapoyan cloud people and to Revash - burial chambers painted to look like coloured houses and constructed high up into the cliff side, reached on foot or by horse-back. At the end of your adventure, end your journey in Cajamarca where you can bathe in thermal springs or explore the city where the Inca Empire finally came to an end with the capture of the Emperor Atahualpa by the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro.
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