These are mystical places! They deserve respect both for their magnificence and their heritage. Above you the cliff face is dotted with caves, each containing the remains of the locals’ ancestors, people who have inhabited this valley since the beginnings of time. Like so many of the experiences on this holiday, human drama and history is mixed with spectacular scenery. A heady combination!
We start in Lima, the capital and then head on to Chiclayo on the coastal plains. We are here to visit the temple of Sipan, perhaps the most important archaeological site in Peru. Next it’s south to Trujillo, a desert oasis between sea and mountains. We will see the Spanish colonial city, one of the few Hispanic sites we visit on this holiday. We also visit the ruined city at Chan Chan, where little imagination is required to see what it would have been like in its heyday. A day’s drive into the mountains includes stops along the way to Cajamarca. Here we can enjoy mountain walks and Incan ruins in the cooler air.
Then to Leymebamba for more stunning mountain scenery and indigenous culture. We continue to Chachapoyas, the name means Cloud people’ in Aymara language, still widely spoken in the area. It is here we see the mystical tombs built into cliffs at Revash. It is also from here we visit Kuelap, a ruined city as spectacular as Machu Picchu but without the crowds. We should be able to use the new built cable car to visit the city, it opened early in 2017. We also visit Gocta waterfall, considered the third highest in the world. Finally we drive to Jaen to catch a flight back to Lima for our final night in Peru.
Only recently has it been possible to enjoy these spectacular and little known sites. Everything you will see here is every bit as engaging as the honey pot highlights in the south of Peru but without the crowds. Be one of the first to discover the area.
We fly from London direct to Lima and transfer to our hotel.
We start with a morning panoramic city tour of Lima, then lunch at Café del Museo Larco. Later in the day we transfer to the airport to take the flight to Chiclayo. On arrival we transfer to the short distance to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
First we visit Tucume taking in the new site Museum and ancient citadel of Tucume, a remarkable archaeological project. We visit Tumbas Reales de Sipan. This museum is built in the shape of the old tomb from the Lord of Sipan and shows a great collection with many artefacts that were found in the original tomb. After lunch we visit Huaca Rajada, the original tomb from the Lord of Sipan. Tonight we have dinner in a Chiclayo restaurant.
We drive to Trujillo taking a look the archeological sites of Huaca el Brujo and La Senora de Cao en route. We will take lunch in a Trujillo restaurant. In the afternoon we have a guided walking tour of this most colonial of cities and some free time to enjoy the atmosphere.
We start with a tour of the gigantic archeological grave hills of Huaca del Sol and Huaca de Luna. Then drive down to the Pacific coast. This is a chance to see traditional reed fishing boats riding the waves. Lunch is not included on this day but there are plenty of shops and restaurants to cater for every taste. In the afternoon we continue to visit the famous Chan Chan ruins, the former capital of the Chimu culture.
We drive to Cajamarca. This is long day with plenty of travelling but we make plenty of stops including lunch at a restaurant.
In the morning we visit Otuzco, a remarkable necropolis with more than 300 niches excavated from volcanic tuff to bury and worship the dead. We continue to the historical thermal springs “Baños del Inca”, where Incan King Atahualpa was enjoying a bath when the Spanish conquistadores arrived. In the afternoon we walk to Cajamarca´s main square. Highlights include the famous 'ransom room', the last Inca building existing in the city and the colonial cloister of Bethlehem integrating its beautiful baroque church and two hospital buildings dating back to the XVIII century.
In the morning, we drive out to explore the geological-archaeological park and the ritual channel of Cumbemayo aqueduct; a true remarkable creation. On the way we can admire panoramic views of the entire of Cajamarca and its surrounding valley from the Apolonia Hilltop. After lunch in Cajamarca we have a free afternoon.
We have a drive up through the Andes to cross the central Andean range. We will travel through an incredible display of eco diversity: high altitude moorland, mountain cloud forest, dry scrub forests, riverbank forests and highland valleys. We will stop for lunch en-route and should arrive mid-afternoon at the charming town of Leymebamba (2203m) nestled at the headwaters of the Utcubamba valley.
We depart from Leymebamba to the town of Nuevo Tingo to board the cable car system to visit the magnificent fortified citadel of Kuelap (3000 m). Construction was started by the Chachapoya people about 1600 years ago. Kuelap impresses the visitor due to its gigantic construction scale, its unique location and its many yet undiscovered archaeological mysteries. After visiting we return for a second night in Leymebamba.
Today we start by visiting the remarkable collection preserved by in the Leymebamba Museum. We will also have time for a coffee at the cafe next door. Here they put out hummingbird feeders so hopefully we can enjoy the spectacle of dozens of hummingbirds sipping nectar whilst we sip our coffee. After lunch we hike up to get a closer look at the incredible Mausoleums of Revash. The cliff conceals a sacred burial site composed by a row of Chachapoya tombs constructed over narrow cliffhangings in shape of miniature houses, to host the mummified remains of their elite ancestors. Finally our journey continues along the scenic Utcubamba valley for 2hrs 30mins in order to the city of Chachapoyas (2300m) where we overnight.
We drive north to the village of Cruz Pata, where we walk into the Aishpachaca gorge, an elite burial site preserving the extraordinary cliff tombs of Karajía, a group of human-shaped sarcophagi where the Chachapoya rendered cult to the mummified remains of their leaders. After lunch, we visit the cave of Quiocta to admire the beautiful rock formations.
From Chachapoyas we drive to Cocachimba, to start a pleasant trek following a well constructed path which crosses through cultivated fields before entering a narrow gorge covered by beautiful cloud forest to see the third highest waterfall on earth: “Gocta”.
Depart Chachapoyas after breakfast we drive bound to Jaén de Bracamoros, (729m) to catch a flight to Lima where we spend our last night. Lunch today will only be a boxed snack as there is no time to visit a restaurant.
After breakfast we will have some free time in Lima before our return flight to the UK.
We arrive back in the UK.
See where this holiday travels to.
Situated in the Miraflores area of Lima the San Agustin is modern comfortable and provides a welcoming, comfortable bed after the long flight from Europe. It offers all usual facilities, TV, minibar and free Wi-Fi. Miraflores is a modern area filled with cafes and shops, it is an ideal base for our exploration of Lima.
La Laguna Seca ('dry lake' in English) is a lovely hotel situated by thermal springs just outside the city of Cajamarca. The hotel offers all the usual comforts, TV, minibar and free wifi but also bath tubs which use the natural hot waters from the thermal springs. The hotel claim the waters offer 'the stimulation of the defence of the organism, the relaxation of the stress, the soothing of the muscles, the reconstruction of the skin toning and the benefit for the joints'.