In just over one week, explore the best of Northern Peru. Begin in Cajamarca and head to the archaeological site of Cumbemayo, then explore a pre-Incan cemetery. Next, drive to Leymebamba, take a woodworking class, and visit a museum that houses 200 mummies, followed by a visit to the Mausoleums of Revash. Tour the Kuélap ruins, check out the Sarcophagi of Karajia funeral statues, explore the Amazonas region of Chiclayo, and more.

Highlights

  • Explore archaeological sites and cemeteries in Cajamarca
  • Discover the incredible fortress and historical ruins of Kuélap
  • Explore the Andean mountains and see the Sarcophagi of Karajia funeral statues
  • Visit the popular sites in Chiclayo, including the Tumbas Reales

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Cajamarca & Sightseeing Cajamarca
Day 2 Transfer to Leymebamba & Woodworking Class Leymebamba
Day 3 Tour the Museum of Leymebamba & Mausoleums of Revash Leymebamba
Day 4 Citadel of Kuélap Tour Chachapoyas
Day 5 Visit the Sarcophagi of Karajia Chachapoyas
Day 6 Transfer to Chiclayo Chiclayo
Day 7 Visit Huaca Rajada, Tucume, & Tumbas Reales Chiclayo
Day 8 Depart From Chiclayo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Cajamarca and sightseeing

Cumbemayo
Cumbemayo

Welcome to Peru! Arrive in Cajamarca in the morning and meet your driver at the airport for the transfer to your hotel. Take some time to get settled and freshen up before the departure to Cumbemayo.  

Cumbemayo archaeological site is located about 8.6 miles from Cajamarca, and 11,483 feet above the sea. The site is framed by a unique landscape that includes a beautiful rock forest. The archaeological site is considered as one of the most remarkable of Andean bodies of water, whose main characteristic is to divert the flow of the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic. It is divided into three, long sections: 2,789 feet, 8,531 feet, and 18,570 feet, respectively. Here, view the carving on the rock, which has a perfect, original finish and is made of right angles in order to slow the speed of the water. This carving is estimated to be from more than 3,500 years ago.

In the afternoon, visit the Ventanillas of Otuzco, a pre-Incan cemetery that resembles a collection of windows from further away; thus, the name "Ventanillas."

Following the day of travel and exploration, return to your accommodations in Cajamarca, and enjoy a relaxing evening.

Day 2: Transfer to Leymebamba and woodworking class

Take a traditional woodworking class
Take a traditional woodworking class

Today, enjoy breakfast and then head into the incredible Amazonas region. 

On the road, pass by the astonishing Marañon Valley, with its namesake river and seemingly endless rows of lush mountain ranges. Stop at a local roadside restaurant for lunch, and get a true taste of the regional cuisine. 

Then, descend upon the valley of the Atuen River, finally reaching Leymebamba.

After a long day on the road, stretch your legs and walk around the town. Take in the mountain views all around. If you'd like, you can also opt into a woodworking workshop. Visit Miguel Huaman, a local wood artist who makes all the replicas for the Leymebamba Museum. He has taught himself everything about traditional Chachapoyas wood carving and loves sharing this knowledge with visitors. After a lesson on techniques and their significance, put your new knowledge to the test and paint your own sarcophagus (stone coffin)—an important tradition of the Chachapoyas culture.

Enjoy dinner, and the rest of the evening is at your leisure.

Day 3: Tour the Museum of Leymebamba and Mausoleums of Revash

Mausoleums of Revash
Mausoleums of Revash

After breakfast, visit the Museum of Leymebamba, famous for housing more than 200 mummies that were found at the Lagoon of the Condors, 25 miles from Leymebamba.

View a collection of 219 preserved mummies in perfect condition, along with archaeological highlights of the Chachapoya culture, including fabrics, ceramics, wooden statues, and a quipus (Incan strings) exposition.

Then, leave Leymebamba and drive for about 1 hour to the district of San Bartolo. Embark on a  short hike for 30 minutes. Then, visit the Mausoleums of Revash. See the Chachapoya funeral tombs, which are situated on a multi-level mountainous cliff decorated with carved houses and symbols like the Andean cross.

After the visit to Revash, descend back into the Utcubamba Valley and return to Leymebamb for the evening.

Day 4: Citadel of Kuélap tour

Kuélap
Kuélap

Have breakfast and leave Leymebamba early in the morning. Drive for about 1 hour to the El Tingo district. From here, take the cablecar up to La Malca, the gateway to the fortified city of Kuélap.

Built in the 5th century CE, the ruins of this citadel comprise more than 500 circular buildings, including the famous Major Temple. The buildings are decorated with friezes, diamonds, and stylized beings that represent major deities. Spend about 3 hours on a guided tour of this archaeological site and learn about the people who inhabited it.  

After the tour, stop by a local restaurant for lunch, and then make your way to Chachapoyas to rest for the night.

Day 5: Visit the Sarcophagi of Karajia

Sarcophagi of Karajia
Sarcophagi of Karajia

After breakfast in Chachapoyas, ride 27 miles through the Utcubamba Valley to get to Cruz Pata.

Once here, walk for about 1 mile to the Sarcophagi of Karajia, the funeral statues of the Chachapoya culture. The sarcophagi are approximately 8 feet tall, have human forms, and are decorated with skulls, figures, and colors. Only the figures of utmost importance are buried in these tombs, so their significance cannot be overstated. Your guide will give you a bit of history and explain more about the rituals that were practiced at this burial site.

After the tour, head back to Chachapoyas for a free evening.

Day 6: Transfer to Chiclayo

Statues representing the arrival of the Incas in Yortuque Walk, Chiclayo
Statues representing the arrival of the Incas in Yortuque Walk, Chiclayo

It's time to depart the beautiful Amazonas region, and embark on a 7-hour drive to the coast of Northern Peru; more precisely, to Chiclayo.

Chiclayo is the gateway to several archaeological sites of importance, but continues to be somewhat neglected by international visitors. This evening, take a walk around the town. Visit the Plaza de Armas, St. Mary's Cathedral, and the Mercado Modelo. In the market, try different local dishes and buy fresh produce. Then, enjoy the evening on your own.

Day 7: Visit Huaca Rajada, Tucume, and Tumbas Reales

Landscapes near the Pyramids of Tucume
Landscapes near the Pyramids of Tucume

After breakfast, head out on a full-day tour of archaeological sites near Chiclayo. 

Your guide will lead you on a visit to the famous Huaca Rajada (also known as Sipán), where royal tombs made of adobe were discovered and excavated. Even though some graves and artifacts have moved to another museum, (pay a visit later in the day), the site is still incredibly fascinating.

The tour continues with the Archaeological Complex of the Pyramids of Tucume—a valley that is home to 26 adobe pyramids from the Lambayeque culture. Stroll the onsite museum and climb to the top of Cerro Purgatorio and enjoy a beautiful view of the valley and pyramids.

Next is the Tumbas Reales Museum, home to the remains of the Lord of Sipán, as well as 2,000-plus artifacts made from gold, silver, copper, feathers, and different fabrics. As mentioned before, many of the relics found in Huaca Rajada have been brought here for public viewing. 

Following the tour, return to Chiclayo for the evening.

Day 8: Depart from Chiclayo

Farewell, Peru!
Farewell, Peru!

Enjoy breakfast on your last day in Chiclayo. Then, a driver will transport you to the airport to catch your departure flight home or the connecting flight to your next adventure.

Safe Travels!

Map

Map of Archaeological Tour of Northern Peru: Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, & Chiclayo - 8 Days
Map of Archaeological Tour of Northern Peru: Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, & Chiclayo - 8 Days