Thursday, August 11, 2011


As our time in Peru comes to a close, both Ryan and I have felt like taking it easy, so we broke up the trip from Cajamarca to Trujillo with a stop in Pacasmayo. This sleepy beach town was an easy place to pass a few days listening to the ocean and doing as little as possible. We stayed in La Costa Dorada where we had a front-row view of the beach on the top floor of the hotel for a sweet $20.

Highlight: You can walk out onto the longest ( and possibly most rickety) pier in Peru for a cool sol. If you do take this walk, don't bring little kids as there are large chunks of pier missing throughout. Here are a few pics:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A fruit cart in Cajamarca.
We followed our trip to Chiclayo with a six-hour bus ride to Cajamarca, a beautiful mountain city surrounded by hills still sprinkled with gold. It was here that the Spanish killed the last of the Inca Emperors (even after he filled two large rooms with gold to placate them). They did give him one break, however--instead of burning him to death, they only strangled him because he had agreed to convert to Catholicism.

Ryan was coming down with something so we took it easy here, and fortunately, Cajamarca is an easy place to relax. The central plaza is a large, well-maintained affair flanked by stunning churches missing a piece here or there (the Spanish purposely built incomplete churches here to avoid a tax from the monarchy). Here are a few pictures from the area:

San Francisco Cathedral, on the central plaza

View from the local Mirador. It costs one sol to climb to this well-maintained park. Reach it by walking toward the white and blue church on the hill, visible from the central plaza.
View #2 from the mirador.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chiclayo, Sipán, Túcume

Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas in Chiclayo
After a leisurely stay in Chachapoyas, we took the night bus down to Chiclayo--a city that reminded us more of Detroit than anything we've seen so far in Peru. But like just about everywhere else in Peru, modern Chiclayo is blessed by ruins scattered here and there.

We took a 15-pasenger van (packed, of course, with 24 passengers) out to a vast, dusty site called Tucume. Here we strolled through the 28 adobe pyramids where first the Sican and then the Chimu people once lived. This is another site where excavations and restorations have only just begun, which means that everything is crumbling but also open to roam. These pyramids were in use from about 1000 AD until the Spanish conquest.

If you follow the main trail through the park, you can hike up the hill where the Spanish once executed those who refused to convert by throwing them to their deaths.

In addition to Tucume, we also enjoyed our visit to the museum that is home to the excavations at Sipan--a site where the Moche people buried their dead in the most elaborate of ways. Although museums here are often single rooms filled with broken pots, the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan is slick and definitely worth the visit. It's packed with  adornments made of gold and precious gems, not to mention the Lord of Sipan himself and the countless others who were buried alongside him.  You can visit both the museum and Tucume in the same day via combis. No tours necessary.

The museum that houses the Lord of Sipan in Lambayeque. Expect long lines. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chachapoyas, Kuelap, Gocta, Karija

After a few days in the searing jungle, Ryan and I headed down to the far more temperate city of Chachapoyas via a six- (read nine-) hour bus ride. Chachapoyas, which is the capital of the Department of Amazonas, is a beautiful town tucked high into the cloud forests where the Chachapoyan people faced conquest first by the Incas and then by the Spanish. Although the town itself has a number of well-preserved colonial buildings as well as a slow-paced, friendly atmosphere, the real attractions here are the surrounding landscapes and ruins.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


After a pleasant stay in the Sacred Valley, we headed back to the jungle. This time we visited the city of Tarapoto in Peru's Amazon. There is only one word to describe this city--hot! In three words, I would describe it as hot, hot, hot!

Going to Tarapoto feels a bit like stepping into the 1950s. Burgers are cheap, turquoise and aqua are the colors of choice, and young people only come out at night to show off their motorcycles. Literally everyone here has a motorcycle (or mototaxi) and there is no limit to the number of people who will pile on a single bike. Grandma, baby, and even the family dog--everyone can be seen enjoying the closest thing to air conditioning this city knows.

Below are a few pictures from the area.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Machu Picchu

Loads of people travel from all over the world to see what has been named one of the new ¨Wonders of the World¨--Machu Picchu. After traveling a bit in the Sacred Valley and seeing quite a few Inca ruins, I wasn`t sure how impressed I would be with Machu Picchu. The ruins at Ollanta and Pisac were, after all, rather impressive.

But Machu Picchu did not disappoint. It was just as spectacular as everyone said it would be. The ruins themselves are extensive and completely open for the exploring, but the seemingly tropical mountains in which they are situated are possibly even more impressive. The two together are--to be cliche but honest--a once in a lifetime experience. Although the prices in the area are exorbitant--Aguas Calientes, recently re-named Machu Picchu Pueblo, feels more like Times Square than a Third World country--they are indeed worth the spectacular views of this mysterious architectural wonder.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Ryan and I have spent the past few days in Ollantaytambo--an area surrounded by Inca ruins. Below are a few pictures from the area. Tomorrow we go to Machu Picchu!