11/2012 - Northern Peru

After nine years we returned to Peru to visit the territories situated north of Lima.

2-week trip to Peru visiting Huaraz, archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar, Huascaran National Park, Yungay, archaeological site of Sechin, Huaca de la Luna, Huaca del Sol Trujillo, archeological site of Chan Chan, Huanchaco, archaeological site El Brujo, Cajamarca, Celedin, Balsas, Museum Malqui, Leimebamba, archaeological site of Kuelap, Chachapoyas, Lambaieche, archaeological site of Sipan, Ferrenafe, Tucume, Chiclayo.

After a night in Lima, a long transfer took us to Huaraz , a town located in the valley between the two mountain ranges : the Cordillera Blanca  (“White Range” more than 6.000 meters above sea level , with snow) and the Cordillera Negra (“Black Range”  5.000 meters high , without snow ) .

The next morning , with a bright sun , after the typical photos to the Cordillera Blanca ( the mount Huascaran dominates over the other peaks ) , we went up to the 4.500 meters of the Pass and could admire the beautiful Querococha lagoon .

Then, we went downwards to the valley of the Rio Mosna (Mosna river) characterized by beautiful views over the well cultivated terraces.

It was very interesting the visit to the archaeological site Chavin de Huantar, dating back to around 1.000 BC.

It is a World Heritage Site and is constituted by a “Castillo” adorned with sculptures in which, in a labyrinth of narrow tunnels , other beautiful sculptures are preserved;  some sculptures have been moved to the nearby museum .

We left Huaraz early in the morning and went to visit the Huascaran National Park which is a protected area, more than 4.000-meter high, for the protection of flora and fauna.

During the climb we enjoyed beautiful views of the Cordillera Blanca, until we reached the two lagoons of Llanganuco located at 5.000 meters. The valley has, on the right, the sharp peaks of mount Huascaran (6.768 mt. ) and, on the left,  the sheer slopes of Mount Huandoy ( 6.395 meters ).  That beautiful landscape was enriched by the majestic flight of a condor .

Despite being over 4.000 meters above sea level, there are spectacular flowers and plants : red orchid, flower of Huankanku , the flower of the Chapca tree and the Quesmal trees ( without bark) .

On the return trip, we stopped at Yungay, a town that , in 1970, was wiped out by the destructive force of an earthquake and was covered by 20 meters of rock and ice detached from the overlying mountain (Mount Huascaran ) with a speed of more than 300 kilometres per hour. Almost all the inhabitants perished, more than 18.000 persons.

We left Huaraz and the wonderful views of the Cordillera Blanca. We climbed up to the Callan Pass and then we started an interminable descent, mostly done crossing a quarry, until we reached, at sea level, the archaeological site of Sechin . Sechin is one of the oldest sites ( 1600 BC ) and  was discovered in 1937 but the excavations were interrupted in 1985.

The exterior walls are clearly visible and are characterized by bas-reliefs whose main theme is the depiction of the losing army disembowelled by the winners.

The Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon)  is a structure consisting of several rooms decorated with ceramics, bas-reliefs and polychrome friezes of great beauty. The Moche people is also remembered for very fine craft works. We ended with a visit to the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), the largest pyramid in Peru, which we admired only for its impressiveness because its interior has not yet been explored by archaeologists.

Trujillo, a city founded in 1500 by Pizarro, is a beautiful city inhabited by a considerable group of Italians . Nearby we visited the archaeological site of Chan Chan, capital of the Chimu civilization (850 AD). The city is formed by nine different urban centres ( smaller cities) because at the king’s death , the cities were  abandoned and the new king built each time an adjacent one.

We reached the coastal town of Huanchaco to see the fishermen sailing on their narrow reed boats which , soaking water, last only few months.

We reached the site of El Brujo , a funeral Huaca ( temple , burial place) with well-preserved coloured bas-reliefs. Nearby, it was recently (2006) discovered a tomb containing the mummy of a young woman who was named “Señora del Cao” (Lady of Cao).

The setting of the tomb was rebuilt in the adjacent museum.

We left the plain to go back inland and we reached the town of Cajamarca, in the northern highlands at 2.750 meters above sea level , where we spent the night.

The next day we climbed up to 3.500 meters to Cumbe Mayo (translation: well-made water channel ) . With a walk of two hours (which was challenging for the height) we went through the so called “El Castillo de Cajamarca”, a series of rock formations eroded by wind and rain. These are characterized by caves and gorges where inside we could admire rock carvings dating back to about 3.000 years ago .

A path led us down to the aqueduct of Cumbe Mayo, a pre-Inca highly engineered work, built about 2000 years ago.

Cajamarca is the most important city of the northern highlands . It is remembered for the killing of the Inca king Atahualpa by the Spaniards, in 1525. The Cathedral of Saint Francis is beautiful and so it is the Belen complex formed by a Church and two hospitals, one for women and one for men .

I close this photo-gallery with some pictures dedicated to children and women who wear the typical clothes of the area .

We left at 6:00 to cover the longest and tiring transfer of the whole trip. It was tiring because we mainly drove on narrow and rural roads , up and down mountains with high precipices without any protections.

Our guide described that transfer as: ” wild and scenic route .”

We met the rural town of Celedin , we climbed up to the 3.000 meters of the pass and then downwards to the 800 meters of Balsas, a town watered by the Rio Maranon , a tributary of the Amazon River .

We went upwards  (it was an ascent of 57 km ) to the Abra de Barro Negro (Black Mud Pass ) . After the descent we stopped to visit the Malqui Museum famous because it hosts more than 250 mummies of the Chachapoyas culture . We made a short stop in Leimebamba before reaching the nearby Hotel El Chillo which I remember for the beautiful flower garden and a chapel with a very particular Christ .

After two hours on a very difficult rural road, we arrived at 3.100 meters, in the parking area of the archaeological site of Kuelap . We walked uphill along a path that led us to the 3.300 meters of the fortified city . The city is more than 700 meters long while the fortifications can be even 20 meters high. The site dates back to 1000 A.D.  and  is in excellent condition since the city was covered by forest and “rediscovered” only in 1843. Kuelap was founded and inhabited by the Chachapoyas people (also known as ” people of the clouds ” ) who were defeated by the Incas in 1472 .

Even if the stop in the town of Chachapoyas was short, we did not miss a visit to the interesting local museum. It contains several well-preserved mummies found in that area which is particularly rich in archaeological remains . The next morning we left very early (at 5.00) to drive on the long but fast road that led us downwards to sea level after passing the Porcuya Pass .

We had lunch at Lambaieche and  then we went to visit the Museum of the Royal Tombs in Sipan .

It was forbidden to take pictures inside .

The archaeological site of Sipan is the one in which it was found the royal tomb known as Tomb of El Señor de Sipán (Lord of Sipán) which belonged to the Moche people and dates back to 500 AD.

Nearby there is the museum which hosts gold objects of fine workmanship.

I close this photo-gallery with pictures of the children always ready to sell everything .

We moved to the nearby town of Ferrenafe to visit the National Museum dedicated to the Sican culture (between 750 and 1300 AD). We could admire the reconstruction of several tombs and the exhibition of a variety of finely crafted objects made ​​of gold. In the afternoon , in a torrid heat, we went to Tucume . It is a huge area where it is possible to admire about 25 pyramids. Unfortunately  many of them are still to be explored and  none of them can be visited. We could only go to the “mirador ” (vantage point terrace ) to enjoy a general view of the site.

The city of Chiclayo is known to be the city of the ” Brujos ” (sorcerers ) and it is fascinating to visit the … sorcerers’ market where they sell healing herbs and many other ….. shamanic amenities that I present in this photo-gallery.

I end the exciting trip in northern Peru presenting a series of … curious shots.

I show the colourful mountain tuk –tuk,  the trucks which carry impossible amount of corn or sugar cane , and the dish served in the restaurant as … appetizer. I conclude with the curious picture of the market in Chiclayo, the one next to the sorcerers’ market.