North Coast

Shutterstock/5930746/Chris HoweyPeru's north coast could well be described as the Egypt of South America. This is a region of numerous monumental ruins, built by the many highly skilled pre-Inca cultures that once thrived here. The recent, ground-breaking discovery at Caral is now open to visitors. Not far from Trujillo, Chan Chán was the capital of the Chimú Kingdom; its crumbling remains still represent the largest adobe city in the world. The Huaca de la Luna of the Moche Empire is revealing fabulous, multicoloured friezes of gods from the first millennium AD. Further north, near Chiclayo, the adobe brick pyramids of Túcume, Sipán and Sicán rise massively from the coastal plains. The wealth from some of their tombs is now displayed in new, state-of-the-art museums.

But it's not all pyramids and royal tombs. The elegant city of Trujillo is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture in the country. There are charming towns such as Huanchaco, with its bizarre-looking reed-fishing rafts, and Chulucanas, with its famous pottery. Lambayeque Department has umpteen festivals; you can visit witchdoctors or simply buy their potions; up and down the coast the seafood is wonderful and the hospitality unrivalled. In addition, the northern seaboard enjoys a rain-free climate all year, and sports Peru's finest beaches for bathing and surfing. Around Tumbes, the most northerly provincial capital, three reserves protect mangroves, equatorial dry scrub and rainforest, each of which contains endangered species, from crocodiles to eagles.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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