Venture off the beaten path to discover ancient vestiges of north Peruvian cultures. Explore fortified cities that were once bustling hubs of early civilisations; peruse museums brimming with archaeological treasures; visit burial tombs used by pre-Inca cultures; and encounter the ruins of Chan Chan, abandoned by the Chimu people in 1470. See a side of Peru that few travellers experience, and gain a greater understanding of the country's ancient past
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
Board an early flight to Jaen, then travel overland to Chachapoyas, gateway to the archaeological sites of northern Peru. "Chacha," as it's known locally, will be our base for exploring the natural, cultural, and archaeological highlights of the region. (B)
This morning, get immersed in the culture and history of the Chachapoyan people at Kuelap, a fortified city made up of more than 400 circular buildings and complexes. Ride a cable car up to the site, thought to have been an important cultural centre for these pre-Inca "Cloud Warriors." Enjoy lunch at a coffee farm and attend an exclusive lecture by a Chachapoyas expert. Later, try to spot some of the 130 bird species that live in the surrounding ecological reserve, including the spatula-tailed hummingbird. (B,L)
Hike through the cloud forest to Gocta waterfall, one of the world's tallest cascades, 771 meters (2,156 feet) high. Ancient legends that discouraged local community members from talking about the falls, which did not begin receiving visitors until 2005 and are still relatively unknown. Take in Gocta’s mesmerizing spray; then opt for a longer hike to its base, or enjoy a free afternoon. (B)
Today, drive to Chiclayo. This coastal town, founded in the 18th century, was once an important trade route between the coast and the jungle and is rich with archaeological sites and cultural history. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city on your own. (B,L)
Enjoy a visit to one of the most archaeologically rich museums in Peru: the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. In the afternoon, explore the tombs of Huaca Rajada and Lord Sipán, a series of burial chambers used by the pre-Inca Moche culture. (B,L)
Drive down the coast to colonial Trujillo, stopping along the way at the tomb of the Dama de Cao. Tour the site and hear about the mummy discovered here in 2006, thought to be the remains of the Lady of Cao, a high-ranking Moche ruler. In the afternoon, explore Trujillo to discover baroque churches and local markets. (B)
Visit the Temples of the Sun and the Moon. Later, enjoy a visit to Chan Chan, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world's largest adobe city. The former capital of the Chimu people, Chan Chan covers 26 square kilometres and was once home to about 50,000 people. Fly back to Lima this evening. (B)
Depart at any time. (B)
Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys blend fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of travelling in a small group.
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