The huacas in the Peruvian north are the vestiges of the Moche culture and later cultures (Lambayeque and Chimú). There are several tens still in different states of conservation.
A huaca is a religious temple shaped like a truncated pyramid and with ramps to access the top. In addition, it can also serve as a burial place for some prominent culture leader, such as the Lord of Sipan or the Lady of Cao.
Huacas are in the entire north-central coast of Peru, but today we are going to focus on the best known and best preserved in the North.
Huacas in the Peruvian north
Also known as the Tucume pyramids, it is one of the largest archaeological complexes in northern Peru. A whole set of huacas and different buildings of the Moche culture, later occupied by the Lambayeque, Chimu and Inca cultures. It dates from the 11th century and is quite deteriorated.
Huaca where the Lord of Sipán was buried, whose tomb was discovered in 1987. In addition to the huaca, there is a museum on the site that shows some very successful recreations of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan.
Although it is part of the archaeological complex of Túcume, we wanted to highlight it on its own. It has fairly well preserved walls of marine motifs, mainly of rafts with large fishing nets.
Imposing 40 meter high adobe construction. It is quite deteriorated, so there are no murals or constructions of interest that are visible today. However, it is worth observing this impressive building and thinking how great it would be hundreds of years ago (Read more about the Huaca of the Sun).
Smaller than the Huaca of the Sun, but much better preserved. In it, you can see remains of places of worship, which were superimposed on older ones. Several of its walls are with quite well-preserved polychrome decorations. It is located 500 meters from the Huaca of the Sun.
Huaca of small size, but well preserved. It is called this way by the dragon-shaped reliefs under a rainbow present in its walls. It is one of the oldest in northern Peru (about 1,100 years old). It is located within the city of Trujillo.
And not only will you be able to enjoy the huacas of northern Peru, you can also visit the ancient chimú citadel of Chan Chan. This was the administrative capital of this culture, being the largest city in America built in adobe. It is a world heritage site since 1986 (Read more about Chan Chan city).
These are the most important tourist huacas in Northern Peru. However, if you are very interested in these temples, you can also visit: Huacas Chotuna and Chornancap, the archaeological complex El Brujo (Huaca Cao Viejo, Huaca Prieta and Huaca Cortada), Huaca Bandera, …
How to get to the huacas in the Peruvian north?
As you have seen, the most of the huacas in the Peruvian north are located in the surroundings of the cities of Trujillo and Chiclayo.
You can go by plane to one of those 2 cities and travel by bus to the other. Or you can take the tour that we did on a VIP bus (Cruzero Suite from Cruz del Sur company) to visit the huacas on a weekend.
We traveled by bus from Lima to Chiclayo on a Friday night. In this way, we arrive first thing in the morning (12 hours of travel). We visit the Huaca Rajada-Sipán and its site museum, the pyramids of Tucume and its museum, the viewpoint of La Raya hill and the Royal Tombs of Sipan museum. In the afternoon/night we take a bus to Trujillo (4 hours by bus).
The next morning we visit the Huacas of the Sun and the Moon, the Huacas of Moche museum, the Huaca of the Dragon/Rainbow and its site museum, the Chan Chan city and the resort of Huanchaco (totora horses). Already at night we take the bus back from Trujillo, arriving soon to Lima. Just enough to take a shower and go to work.
It’s a pretty tired plan, but allowed us to see the huacas of northern Peru on a weekend. You can also visit Trujillo first, but the return from Chiclayo to Lima is longer. That’s why we leave the trip “short” for the return.
Where to stay to visit the huacas in the Peruvian north?
Chiclayo and Trujillo are the main cities near the huacas. We recommend that you look for accommodation in these 2 cities, one night in each of them (they are 215 km away).
Tours to visit the huacas in the Peruvian north
There are quite a few companies that organize guided tours of the huacas and the museums in the area. We hired Travelers Tours Peru and we found it a good travel agency.
The north of Peru is not as touristy as the South (Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Nazca,…), but it has very interesting places to discover: Chiclayo, Trujillo, Máncora beaches, Huaraz (Cordillera Blanca), Iquitos, Mangroves of Tumbes, …
If you can’t travel to northern Peru because you don’t have time on your trip, visit at least the Huaca Pucllana (Miraflores) or the Huaca Mateo Salado (Pueblo Libre/Breña) in Lima city. So you can see the remains of one of these wonderful temples. And, if you’re a fan of archeology, you can’t miss either Caral, the remains of the oldest civilization in America.
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Kiss and hugs.