Peru travel blog by Mark Berman -
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In Trujillo and nearby Huanchaco there is a lot to see and do. Trujillo has a fantastic historical center with at least a dozen notable churches worth
checking out. Trujillo's main square - the Plaza de Armas is quite spectacular to see with colorful buildings surrounding it, the cathedral and flower
gardens. In Huanchaco, although I was not here in peak season I enjoyed the laid back and relaxed atmosphere for a couple of nights while spending a
day visiting some of the archaeological sights in Trujillo and nearby Chan Chan. I was also interested to see the famous banana boats that the locals
use for fishing plus the beach and some surfing.
In Huanchaco there is a lot of accommodation in various price ranges available with the beach front hotels and hostels
being the most expensive. I found a great place to stay on a street off the main beachfront road for $25 Soles per night for my own room with bathroom
which is a great deal. There was also free internet available and a laundry nearby called Mr Phil.
The Main Street and Beachfront
The main street on the beachfront is pleasant with its palm trees and gardens and a few statues and monuments. There is a long pier which costs 50
cents to walk out onto during the day. The locals fish and people sell hooks, lines and sinkers. There are several restaurants and eating places on
both sides of the road. Also a nice cake shop across the road from the beach at the southern end. There are places around town that rent surfboards
and there are people available to teach you to surf as well.
Huanchaco has a local hospital with nice staff should you need it. You can visit a doctor
here and get a prescription too. It is quite cheap, about $6 Soles to see the doctor!
Surfing and Banana Boats
If it had been a bit warmer I would have tried some surfing but
I did enjoy watching a few others out on the water, the waves looked pretty good. On the beaches Playa El Varadero and Playa La Curya is where all the
banana boats are, dozens of them. The locals were busy attaching green fishing nets to them. On the roadside above there were a couple of men selling
something orange made with honey, there were bees still buzzing around and on it. A man rode past on a bicycle carrying a big load of the totora reed
raw material used to make the banana boats. There was a man and woman out on a banana boat, one paddling and one fishing. From the pier I took a
photo of the church up on the hill at the back with the beach, boats and water in the foreground. At night it looks really nice when they turn
the lights on inside.
Restaurants Serving Fish
A good restaurant that I enjoyed in Huanchaco is El Velero Food and Drinks, they serve a nice fish meal (Ceviche).
Sights Around Trujillo
I met 3 other travelers at my hostel in Huanchaco and we decided to organise a taxi for the afternoon to take us to the temple of the moon known as
Huaca de la Luna and the temple of the sun known as Huaca del Sol. There was 4 of us so we had more bargaining power with the taxi. My friends
knew a guy already and he agreed to take us there and wait for us and then bring us back to Huanchaco for $50 Soles total. A good deal for
4 people. So we set off, it took about 30 minutes to get there.
Proyecto Arqueologico Huaca de la Luna
We first stopped at Huaca del Sol which is near the entrance. We saw the corner walls
of big stone bricks and the driver explained some of the history behind it. It was much more interesting however to see
Proyecto Arqueologico Huaca de la Luna which is an ongoing project which was started I believe in the early 1990's. This is a living breathing arqueology site where more is
uncovered each day. After we bought our tickets for $11 Soles each, we waited about 15 minutes for our guide to take us through. The groups of people
are spaced out by 10-15 minutes to avoid creating crowds on the fragile site. While we were waiting we saw all the arqueologists walking down to take
a break with their picks, spades and tools in their hands, our guide took us out. She was really good at explaining the details of the temple to us,
she has been a guide there ever since it opened to the public.
City of the Moche
The city of the Moche civilization is in an amazing setting at the foot of Cerro Blanco
mountain on the south side of the Moche valley. The location was chosen so that the inhabitants had access to the valley's largest expanses of farmland.
The farmlands were won from the desert and were watered by a complex and extensive irrigation system which allowed the Moche to sustain an agricultural
economy capable of generating surpluses! The city produced its goods from these farmlands and created exchange networks to provide the city with
prestige goods that were carried in on llama caravans. Most of the projects workers come from the Moche valley's traditional countryside. The team
includes renowned archaeologists, conservators, architects, engineers, anthropologists, biologists, artists, technicians and assistants. Here is the
website for the project called Patronato Huacas Del Valle De Moche
which is available in English and Spanish.
We met the projects pet Peruvian
along the way. Their body temperature is
higher than other dog breeds, they look kinda funny.
There is a lot of scaffolding with roofing to protect the areas of excavation from the wind and elements. Walls, rooms and staircases have been
excavated. Some walls still have the Moche paintings on them in mainly red, yellow, white and black colors. These walls portray the image of the Moche
God Ai Apaec. There are other walls with quite detailed drawings on them and a whole row of people holding hands as well as some serpents. The temple has
many layers. The Moche used to bury earlier constructions under adobe bricks and superimpose new structures over them. The researchers have discovered
5 distinct building periods. The whole area of excavation work being done here is incredible, we were told by our guide to come back in 3 years to see
whole new sections that will be uncovered. My friends and I found it to be a very interesting experience and enjoyed the time we had going back in time
to the Moche era.
Organise a Tour to Chan Chan
After the taxi took us back to the hostel in Huanchaco we organised with the driver
for him to pick us up at 10am the next morning to take us to Chan Chan also known as Palacio Tschudi which is near to Huanchaco and other sites called
Huaca El Dragon and Huaca La Esmeralda and also to the museum called Museo De Sitio Chan Chan. These 4 sites are all able to be visited on the 1 ticket, which cost $11 Soles.
We set off, on the way we passed a remote church called Iglesia San Jose and a minute later came to the entrance to Chan Chan.
As we approached we
could see the outside walls with their jagged but round edges and all at various heights, it all looked a bit like the surface of the moon.
We firstly saw some diagrams and maps about the site and what it used to look like and began our walk through. There were guides available for an extra
cost but we decided to guide ourselves and use the information boards along the way to learn about it. The first site was the grand square area that
has 2 wooden statues guarding the entrance, there was a local school group visiting with their teachers while we were here. Behind the statues are
the walls with carved patterns of animals, inside there are walls carved in a diagonal checkered pattern. This diagonal checkered pattern became a theme
as we continued walking through. We stuck by the school group for a while so to get some additional information from the teacher talking to the kids
which a girl in our group translated to the rest of us. The walls and stone at Chan Chan are very rounded and smooth - I presumed because of the wind
blowing over the site for thousands of years, but it is actually mainly the rain. We walked along long corridors and through little doorways. We saw an impressive well which was the
setting for ceremonies dedicated to a water and fertility cult. Chan Chan built by the Chimu civilization is interesting to explore, the shapes,
textures and designs of the walls give the site a nice smooth relaxing feel, without too many sharp corners.
Chan Chan Museum
We were at Chan Chan for just over an hour and then we drove to the museum Museo De Sitio Chan Chan. Inside the entrance there is a life-size model
of the Chimu King being carried in his chair by 4 servants. There is a board showing the chronological order of the civilizations going from the
Guanape, Cupisnique, Salinar, Gallinazo, Moche and Chimu to the Inca. There are various artifacts in glass cabinets to look at including metal goods
and wooden moulds. There's a big model of Chan Chan which shows the whole city. There are wall displays showing various things including one
showing how the banana (totara reed) boats are made and explaining their origin.
Huaca Arco Iris o Dragon
Next we visited the site called Huaca Arco Iris o Dragon which is a small site with just the temple. We found the entrance to the temple around
the back which is a big stone wall doorway. We walked up the stone corridor and came to walls with some designs carved into them and a steep ramp
leading up to the top floor or roof. We hung out up here for a few minutes looking at the views of the surrounding Trujillo area.
The driver said that the other temple was very similar, so we decided that we didn't need to go there and could he drop us at the bus terminal.
Bus to Chiclayo or Piura
wanted to head up the coast to Chiclayo and Mancora. We had brought our backpacks with us. We paid the taxi 30 Soles for his services for the day which
overall took about 3hrs. We arrived at Trujillo bus terminal, one person went to Chiclayo to see more arqueology such as 'Sipan' and the other 3 of
us headed for Mancora