An article about the Best Things to Do and See in Northern Peru including the best archeological sites and mountains.
Tired of visiting the super visited and cliched touristy spots in Peru? If off the beaten adventure is what you seek, look no further than Northern Peru my wonder friends.
Archeological ruins in a desert setting, new cultures, beaches, mountains, glacier lakes and more await you here.
Are you ready to read about the best things to do and see in Northern Peru my friends?
The 5 Best Things to Do and See in Peru
Peruvian Archeology at Trujillo
Trujillo is the most important city of Northern Peru and from there, you can easily access the many archeological zones, museums, beaches, and horse ranches of Northern Peru, making it the ideal base of operations for exploring the area.
It is located some eight hours north of Lima so it’s perfect for an overnight journey. In my opinion, a visit to Northern Peru is definitely recommended if you have the extra time after exploring the rest of the regions of this wonderful country.
The historical center of Trujillo is very pretty by day and even more pretty by night, although most people will find it quite dull and boring after a while.
Public transportation to the archeological areas is not that good so I ended up taking a cheap 10 USD one-day tour to visit some of the most important ones of the Moche culture of Northern Peru: Huaca (a word meaning sacred site) of the Moon, Chan-Chan Archeological Site and the Tomb of the Lady of Cao.
Huaca of the Moon and the Monsters
The Moche Culture of Northern Peru was not that different from the Incas that inhabit the Eastern region of the country (check out how to get from Lima to Cuzco here), the main difference was that the Moches lived in arid zones and were based very close to the ocean. Local legend has it that one of the first God-Kings of their culture came by boat from far-away lands.
Of course, this probably means that the first rulers of Northern Peru came from one of the Polynesian Islands but it could also mean that they came from Mexico, thus, fortifying my royal claims to the
iron stone throne.
Unlike the Incas, the Moches built their temples and palaces using adobe and were big fans of colorful drawings, in fact, the main attractions that you will find in Northern Peru are the intricate and detailed carvings that they did as well as the metallic decorations of their rulers.
The most emblematic mural of the Moche culture of Northern Peru is located in the Huaca of the Moon and symbolizes a red monster that was feared as a God according to their local traditions. His name? Ai Apaec the beheader. No wonder they were scared of him!
Museums and the Tomb of the Lady of Cao
A few km away from Trujillo itself, you will find the ongoing (at the time) excavation of the Tomb of the Lady of Cao, the Tattooed Sorcerer Queen of the Moches as well as some very interesting museums depicting the way the ancient rulers of Northern Peru were buried and the strange positions they adopted.
I would definitely suggest you visit The Tomb of the Lady of Cao today since I’m sure it has dramatically changed ever since I visited Northern Peru last year.
One of the best things to do and see in Northern Peru for sure!
Chan-Chan Palace, one of The Best Things to Do and See in Northern Peru
Last but certainly not least, I visited the immense palace of Chan-Chan, center of the Moche culture. In this place, there were once highly detailed statues of guardians, of which only fragments of the original remain, in their place you can see some interesting full-scale replicas of them.
It is quite shocking that the media focuses a lot on the archeology of the Inca culture while completely ignoring the general awesomeness of the cultures of Northern Peru such as the Moche one.
As soon as I arrived to the Chan-Chan Palace, I sensed that something strange was going on as our guide disappeared and in his place, an ancient Moche warrior of Northern Peru appeared to guide us through his palace.
Suddenly, the Moche warrior placed his eyes on me, the only non-Peruvian in the group. As we both exchanged glances, he knew I was there for a reason so he bent his knee and asked me: “Would you take the throne, my lord?”.
Of course, later that day I learned that he was actually an actor and that this coronation wasn’t official at all but hey, who cares? I got an awesome picture and the privilege of being an Emperor for a day!
Take a Detour into the Huaraz Mountains
While still considered as part of Northern Peru, Huaraz is located actually South-East of Trujillo but still North of Lima. Here you will find the Cordillera Blanca (White Range), an extension of the Andes Mountain range where you can embark on many epic hikes of wonders.
Glaciers, snow and llamas all await you in Huaraz and the surrounding areas. Stay tuned for a future article on Journey Wonders in which I’ll show you the many day trip and day hikes you can take from Huaraz.
They are truly out of this world!
I hope you have enjoyed this article about the best things to do and see in Northern Peru. Don’t forget to subscribe in order to get more awesome updates and tips straight to your e-mail.
Have you ever been to Northern Peru? Would you like to? What were some of your favorite things to do and see in Northern Peru? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think.
Until next time!