Often ignored by travellers, Peru’s north coast is possibly the most important archaeological area in the whole of the Americas. Even though the Incas have taken the lion’s share of archaeological attention in Peru, the prior cultures of the north coast were at least as important, and survived for a much longer period of time. A visit to Chiclayo and Trujillo is an unforgettable cultural experience.
Chiclayo is a rather bustling modern city with little to see or do in the city itself, except for its surprising Witch Market. However, it is one of the most important archaeological areas in Peru, with the very important sites of Sipán, Túcume and Sicán all close by.
Located north of Lima and Trujillo along the coast, Chiclayo is the capital of the Department of Lambayeque. To the north of Chiclayo in Piura and to the east is Cajamarca, and it is considered the ¨most costal¨ department because only a small part extends into the mountains.
The area around Chiclayo is one of the most archaeologically important in the world, containing the fascinating sites of Sipán, Túcume and Sicán.
The Moche culture developed from the south of Trujillo and spread out over much of the north coast, lasting from 200BC to 800AD. The importance of this culture can be seen in its enormous adobe structures, such as those at Túcume, as well as the stunning treasures that have been discovered, including those of the Señor de Sipán, which can be seen in Lambayeque. The Moche temples have not survived well, as the ravages of time and the greedy hands of fortune hunters have damaged the structures’ mud bricks.
Archaeologists headed by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl have uncovered remarkable mud-brick friezes and fine pottery in the Tucume pyramids, displayed in a small site museum Chiclayo has a pleasant climate, with an average temperature of 22.3ºC (72ºF), with the summer months reaching 32ºC (90ºF).
Lambayeque Fabulous Museums
The fabulous treasures found in the tombs of Sipán are now on display in the new and very good Tumbas Reales museum and in the Brüning museum in Lambayeque. Sipán is one of the richest tombs discovered since King Tut´s, containing extraordinary gold, silver and gilded copper items. The treasures of the Señor de Sicán are housed in the Sican museum in Ferreñafe, and are another of Peru’s star attractions.
With Brüning, Sicán and Sipán museums, a cultural circuit has been established which promises to become the focus of future development in the region. The long term plan is to transform these museums into centers for research and study, but, as Walter Alva himself pointed out, “That will be as great a challenge as the discovery of the tombs was”.
Detailed Main Tours in Chiclayo
City Tour & Witch Market (3 hours)
Visit to the most important sites in the city including the Cathedral and the main square. A stop at the “witches market” is a unique experience, where shamans, or folk healers, sell the herbs and paraphernalia used in their healing sessions.
Sipan Tombs in Huaca Rajada (4 hours)
This tour takes us to visit the tombs of the world famous “Lord of Sipan” and of the “Old Lord of Sipan”, now restored and in exhibition. Scientists believe that the Lord of Sipan was a political, military and religious leader buried approximately 1,500 years ago along with an entourage of his women, a priest, soldiers and dogs.
Tucume & Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum (5 hours)
Depart toward Lambayeque to visit the Tucume Pyramids and its site museum. Then visit to the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum where the exhibition also shows a reconstruction of the Lord of Sipan and the Old Lord of Sipan tomb with his values jewels of gold, silver, copper, as well as other treasures.
Other very interesting visits are to the Brüning Museum and to the Lord of Sican National Museum.
A 5-hour session that begins at 10 PM in a field 5 kilometers from the archaeological site of Tucume. These healing sessions are performed by the ‘shaman’, or folk healer, who uses a blend of traditional medicine along with ancient and Christian beliefs. The ceremonies include the hallucinatory ‘San Pedro’ beverage (optional), and canticles with herbs, perfumes and stones that infuse the visitor with spiritual and physical strength.
* Only on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Chiclayo and Trujillo 5 Days/ 4 Nights Suggested Package
A quite complete 5 days trip in the past of the most spectacular remains of the coastal cultures of north Peru: Mochica, Sicán and Chimú and a visit to the colonial cities and traditions of Chiclayo and Trujillo.