This wonderful trip will bring you to the archaeological highlights of Northern Peru. You will visit exceptional sites, hike to one of the world’s highest waterfalls, and learn about pre-Incan history.

Highlights

  • Discover Trujillo, including Chan Chan and Huaca de la Luna y del Sol
  • Visit the Museum of Tumbas Reales, one of the best in Peru, Lambayeque
  • Discover the impressive Citadel of Kuelap from the Chachapoya culture

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima Lima
Day 2 Arrival in Trujillo & Temple of the Moon Trujillo
Day 3 Chan Chan, Huaca Arco Iris & Huanchaco Trujillo
Day 4 Transfer from Trujillo to Cajamarca - City Tour Cajamarca
Day 5 Cajamarca - Cumbemayo – Ventanillas de Otuzco Cajamarca
Day 6 Transfer Cajamarca - Leymebamba, Mummy Museum of Leymebamba Leymebamba
Day 7 Amazonas - Citadel of Kuelap, starting in Leymebamba, finishing Chachapoyas Chachapoyas
Day 8 Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 771 m Chachapoyas
Day 9 Karajia Sarcophagus and Quiocta Caverns Chachapoyas
Day 10 Fly from Jaen to Lima, Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore. 

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. Head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Explore the historic center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial downtown, which emanates from the main square. Stroll over to the 16th-century Cathedral, which took 80 years to construct and was built in the grandiose style of the Spanish Empire. 
  • Visit the Casa Aliaga, a colonial mansion granted by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535. This is the only house from that era that still belongs to the same family. 
  • Stroll around the Pueblo Libre district to the privately owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 
  • In the evening, head to the eclectic "Love Park" in the upscale coastal district of Miraflores, where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls.  The park is built on the cliffs of Chorrillos and is a perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy a nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in the diverse Miraflores neighborhood.

Day 2: Arrival in Trujillo & Temple of the Moon

Temple of the Moon
Temple of the Moon

After breakfast, transfer to the Lima airport to board your flight to Trujillo. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel. Once you've settled in, settle out to see the Temple of the Moon, a pre-Hispanic mud pyramid, sacred to the Moche Civilization which flourished in this area from 100-750 C.E. Exquisite colorful murals decorate the walls of the Temple of the Moon, which has been built and re-built several times. You will notice the religious symbol of the Ai-Apaec, or "The God of the Mountains," appearing many times on the walls of the temple. 

Despite the prevalence of archaeological ruins, the Mochica culture is not dead. After visiting the temples and museum, continue to a pottery and crafts shop to view and learn about the traditional methods of handicrafts that have been preserved by the Mochica people over the centuries.

Day 3: Chan Chan, Huaca Arco Iris & Huanchaco

Relief murals in Chan Chan
Relief murals in Chan Chan

Head out in the morning for a full day of sightseeing near Trujillo. Your first stop is the Huanco Arco Iris, or Rainbow Temple, named for the mysterious and colorful high reliefs found on its walls. From here, continue to the world's largest mud-brick citadel: the Chan Chan fortress. This city was once home to 100,000 people of the Chimu culture, with vast buildings, royal palace rooms, and sprawling workshops to house the city's artisans. 

Continue to Huanchaco, a traditional fishing beach town famous for its totora reed boats, known locally as the "Caballitos de Totora". These boats, made out of the thick and buoyant totora reed, have been used for fishing and surfing for centuries. Enjoy lunch in the seaside town, then return to Trujillo in the afternoon. If there's time, take a detour to explore the small historical city center of Trujillo before returning to the hotel for the evening. 

Day 4: Transfer from Trujillo to Cajamarca - City Tour

Cajamarca City Tour
Cajamarca City Tour

Departure in the morning from Trujillo to Cajamarca (about 6 hours). Lunch on the road (not included).

Upon arrival in Cajamarca and some rest, we start your city tour.

The first place to visit is the Ransom Room. This is the only Inca´s place with vestige that preserves the city; it is perhaps the most important archaeological site in northern Peru. This room not only served store in 1952 gold pieces and silver offered in exchange for the freedom of Inca Atahualpa. It also represents the end of one of the most important cultures of humanity, and the start of mestizaje in Peru.

Then we will visit churches of different religious orders that were built during the colonial era between seventeenth century and the mid-eighteenth century.

Day 5: Cajamarca - Cumbemayo – Ventanillas de Otuzco

Cumba Mayo

We leave Cajamarca for Cumbe Mayo. On the road, we visit the viewpoint Bellavista as well as the pre-Inca temple of Layson, the sanctuary and the sacrifice stone. We continue with the Stone Forest and the Canal of Cumbe Mayo (the most important pre-Inca hydraulic work of this period). 

Return to Cajamarca in time for lunch.

In the afternoon, we travel to the Ventanillas de Otuzco, one of the most important pre-Inca cemeteries that belongs to the Cajamarca culture.

Day 6: Transfer Cajamarca - Leymebamba, Mummy Museum of Leymebamba

Leymebamba

Departure to the Amazonas region, we pass by Celendin city, ascend to Abra de Gelic (3,100m). We see the valley of the Marañon and the mountain ranges; then we descend to the village of Balsas (900m). We pass over the Rio Marañon.

Lunch in a local restaurant on the road.

Ascend to Abra Barro negro (3,600m), and re-descend to the valley of Atuen River. Travel to Leymebamba district (2,200m).

Upon arrival, we visit the Mummy Museum of Leymebamba with its over 200 mummies and an exceptional Quipus collection.

Day 7: Amazonas - Citadel of Kuelap, starting in Leymebamba, finishing Chachapoyas

Kuelap

This morning we depart from Leymebamba and will travel about one hour 15 minutes to El Tingo district. We arrive at the boarding bus to the cable car. Then we travel 10 minutes to the starting platform, board the cable car and travel another 20 minutes (4 kilometres).

Arrival at the tourist center La Malca. From here, it is a 2 km walk. We visit the fortified city of Kuelap (3000m): Built from 400 years AC in an area of 6 hectares, with more than 500 circular buildings and other important buildings with particular purposes such as the Major Temple, El Torreon discovered in 1843.

The buildings are decorated with friezes, diamonds and stylized beings, representing the major deities. The visit will take between 2 - 3 hours before you will first walk back another 30 minutes to La Malca and from there come down with the cable car.

Time for Lunch in a local restaurant in Nuevo Tinga, and continuation to Chachapoyas.

Day 8: Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 771 m

Gocta Waterfall

After breakfast you leave for Cocachimba from where you will start your hike to the Gocta waterfall.

On the way, you can observe the local agricultural activity, we across amid the dense vegetation typical for the cloud forest, habitat to the spatuletail hummingbird, gallito de las rocas (national bird), orchids and bromeliads.

Note: This is a difficult hike, about 6 hours return. You might want to choose a horse, knowing that anyway the last 2 km (45 minutes walking one way) you will have to walk, as it is not adapted to the horses.

Day 9: Karajia Sarcophagus and Quiocta Caverns

Karajia

This morning at the coordinated time, we’ll begin with our 1h 30 min journey to Karajia, a peculiar funerary site which consist of a set of unique sarcophagi, sculptured like humans, located in a large cliff with difficult access. To reach the sarcophagi viewpoint we have a private transfer until a nearby town, from where we continue by foot for another 30 minutes. Once at the viewpoint we’ll be able to admire these striking icons that have been overlooking the valley for over 750 years. After lunch, we  will head to Quiocta Caverns where we’ll observe thousands of impresive stalactites, stalagmites and other rock formations.

Day 10: Fly from Jaen to Lima, Depart Peru

Photo taken by Lynda P
Photo taken by Lynda P

Today is your last day in Peru! You will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Jaen airport, where you will catch your flight back to Lima and then transfer to your international flight back home or to your next destination. ¡Buen viaje!