Often forgotten and far from the hype and predictability of what is commonly known as the ‘The Gringo Trail’ (the sites comprising of Cusco, Puno and Machu Picchu), are the isolated and lesser discovered verdant Northern Highlands of Peru.
Home to many Inca and pre Inca ruins, an Andean adventure awaits those travellers who are looking for something a little off beat.
Exploring the Temple of Pachacamac in Lima, the largest Mud City of the Americas, Chan, built by the Chimu tribes, the lush rainforest and the Fortress of Kuelap in Chachapoyas (the country’s second-most thrilling archaeological site after Machu Picchu) as well as a rare mystical cleansing Shaman experience are just a handful of the many outstanding experiences you will have in the Kingdom of the Sun with us.
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore this buzzing city. The Peruvian capital was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizzaro. Here, you will encounter colonial richness and the vibrating vitality of an oriental bazaar. The city has melancholic winters where the fog ‘garua’ rules and also hot and humid summers. There are huge districts where poor people live but also rich quarters with comfortable, old houses and the smell of jasmine in the evening.
Overnight Antigua Miraflores Hotel or similar
After having breakfast at the hotel, we will be transferred to the historical centre of Lima, the ‘City of the Kings’, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will visit San Francisco Church, built in 1674, this attractive yellow church is considered the best sample of the ‘Lima Baroque’ style. It was built over a network of tunnels and catacombs. Visit Casa Aliaga, America’s best preserved colonial mansion, occupied by the same family since 1535. The Huaca Pucllana archaeological centre will be our next stop; it was active between the 5th- 8th century AD. In this archaeological temple you will learn more about the life and rituals of its former inhabitants. The ‘flattened pyramids’ are a unique characteristic of the pre-Hispanic sites in the coastal region of Peru.
From here, return to your hotel to collect your luggage and you will be met and transferred to the airport for your flight to Trujillo. (Depart 16.40hrs, arrive 17.55hrs).
Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (B,D)
Overnight Costa de Sol Trujillo or similar
Following breakfast this morning, you will head to Chan Chan Archaeological complex, the largest mud city of the Americas and the most important city of the Chimu culture, which has an area of approximately 20 square kilometres. Its central area is formed by a group of 10 walled premises called ‘citadels’ and other independent pyramids. The rest of the complex is composed of several small structures, sidewalks, canals, walls and cemeteries.
You will then visit the Huaca Dragon (Dragon Temple), also known as the Rainbow Temple, located in the outskirts of northern Trujillo. This building was erected by the Chimu culture, a lordship contemporary of the Incas. It is an impressive religious monument and ceremonial centre which was also used for administrative purposes. Built of adobe, the walls of the premises are decorated with beautiful mural reliefs showing anthropomorphic figures and representing the rainbow.
You will then visit Huanchaco, an ancestral fisherman’s cove, where it is possible to watch old reed boats known as ‘Caballitos de Totora’, with which the local population maintains its thousand year old tradition of artisan fishing.
Whilst you are in Huanchaco, you will enjoy a surfing lesson. Surfing is an activity that serves the Peruvians to unite, exercise and get in touch with nature, whilst of course having a great time. This surfing class includes theory as well as full training at the beach. At the end of your lesson, you will be transferred back to your hotel. (B,L,D).
Overnight Costa de Sol Trujillo or similar
Start the day with a visit to the Sun & Moon Huacas (Temple of the Sun and Moon). This excursion will take you to the south of Trujillo to visit a religious centre of the Mochica culture, built in the 5th century. Admire the temples of the Sun and the Moon that constituted the centre of the ancient Moche culture, which developed between 100AD and 900AD. Both Huacas are separated by 500m, where the urban centre that houses the Moche elite is still preserved underground. The archaeological complex includes two large pyramids, the Huaca Las Estrellas, Huaca del Cerro Blanco, the Spider geoglyph and other buildings. You will also spend time visiting the workshop of a traditional artisan Moche family and the Huacas de Moche Museum, which compliments the visit of the Huacas with its representation of aspects of life, city and environment of the Moche culture. It also holds an amazing collection of ceramics of great beauty.
You then depart for the Valley of Chicama, located 50km north of Trujillo, to visit the archaeological complex of El Brujo which dates back to the Mochica culture. The capital National University of Trujillo and the National Institute of Culture began a joint dig here in 1990. They have discovered the ‘Huaca Cao highlights’, pyramids reaching up to 50m in height with decorated walls decorated and coloured reliefs that depict complex scenes, characters and geometric designs. These are the only examples known to relate to the Mochican culture. Interestingly, the site is located very close to the seashore, and it is believed that ancient maritime rituals were carried out here, although excavation is ongoing and may reveal additional uses for the El Brujo area.
Discover the mystery of the ornately tattooed 1,600 year old mummy unearthed in the archaeological complex. Preserved for centuries thanks to a meticulous treatment and ancient ritual that included the application of cinnabar, a red mineral that inhibits decomposition of the skin and tissues.
From here, you continue on to Chiclayo where you will be transferred to your hotel. (B,L,D)
3 nights Casa Andina Select Chiclayo Hotel or similar
Begin your day with a visit to Huaca Rajada Archaeological Complex and its museum; home to a set of huge mud pyramids. Partially destroyed by centuries of extreme weather conditions, the complex gained special notoriety in 1987 when Dr Walter Alva, then director of the Bruning Museum of Lambayeque, became aware of the illegal excavations that had been made. What had begun as a protection plan ended with the magnificent discovery of the tomb of the Lord of Sipan, one of the most impressive, pre Colombian burials in Peru.
Head towards Lambayeque where you will visit the Royal Tombs Museum. Due to the Lord of Sipan discovery, whose importance was shown in the complexity of its burial and apparent semi-divine status, the creation of a new museum was necessary to be in accordance with the discovery. Thus, after rescuing, investigating and restoring all registered pieces, the museum was built, a unique place in South America.
From here, visit some local craft villages where you can see magnificent handmade pieces before being transferred to lunch at El Cantaro or El Pacifico, representative northern cuisine restaurants. Following lunch you will return to your hotel. Dinner this evening has been included at a local restaurant in town. (B,L,D)
This morning following breakfast, depart for the city of Ferrenafe to visit the museum at Sican. This museum displays all the everyday aspects of Sican culture. You can also see the processes of making pottery and metal crafts besides a recreation of the tombs of the Sican nobles. Most of the objects are displayed in their context that is in the same way they were used and made. The famous Winged Eye Mask is displayed at the ‘Room of Funerary Offerings’, along with crowns, necklaces, ceramics and other ornaments.
After this visit, you will head to the Bosque Pomac National Sanctuary. This is one of the most important archaeological sites throughout South America. This site consists of numerous pyramids that were once the administrative and religious centre of the powerful pre-Incan Sican culture. Depending on the archaeological work being undertaken, you can visit Huaca Las Ventanas or Huaca El Loro, where archaeologists are still uncovering the secrets of the Sican people.
Drive to Chiclayo and enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to Tucume , a vast Lambayeque archaeological complex that is over 1000 years old flanking an imposing hill, from where the extensive pre Columbian urban site can be surveyed. With over 200 hectares, the complex has 26 buildings of monumental structures associated with lower rank buildings; squares, walls, patios and canals, reflecting a system of planned growth and the complicated social structure of Lambayeque. The remains of this site belong to successive cultures; the Mochica, Lambayeque, Chimu and Inca. Spend time exploring the museum here to better understand what life was like during that period and discover the viewpoint of Cerro Purgatorio. From here you will be transferred back to your hotel for dinner.
Following dinner, drive to the village of Tucume Viejo, where you will meet one of the most renowned Shamans of the north of the region. You will meet in one of the rooms of his home, which is near the archaeological complex, appropriate for the mystical atmosphere required. At midnight, you will start to live a mystical experience with a session of quackery, where you will go through a bath of flourishing and cleansing, to expel all the negative energy through the use of natural herbs and hallucinogens. This session will last all night until dawn. After the session, you will head back to the Chiclayo. (B,L,D)
Following breakfast, you will have the chance to explore Chiclayo at your leisure. Be ready for a big drive that night as we begin the 10 hour overnight journey to Chachapoyas traversing the magnificent Andes. (B,L,D)
Overnight on a tourist bus
An early arrival this morning at 4.30am. After breakfast, you will be headed to the picturesque town of Cocachimba; from there, you will begin our journey towards Gocta waterfall (an hour and a half on horseback plus one hour walk). Along the way, enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna, and a splendid view of the waterfall.
Gocta Waterfall, locally known as “La Chorrera”, is 771 meters high and it is considered among the highest waterfalls in the world. It is the perfect habitat for toucans, monkeys, mountain lions and Andean cocks-of-the-rock. It is located in a large cloud- covered forest, around which there are about twenty waterfalls. It offers a beautiful combination of geography and history, making it a magical place. Return to San Pablo and have a traditional lunch. (B,L,D)
2 nights Casa Hacienda Achamaqui or similar
After breakfast, you will go to Kuelap, a majestic architectural site built by the Chachapoyas. On your way, you will make a brief stop to take in the panoramic view of the Macro Archaeological site, also known as “Macro Towers” known for its characteristic design. Macro is located on the side of a hill overlooking the Utcubamba river. Continue into Nuevo Tingo town, where you will board the bus that will take you to the cable car station. Once on-board the modern cable cars, a short and safe trip will take you to visit Kuelap. You may venture on foot or on horseback to the “Fortress”, which is built on top of the Cerro Barreta (3,000 m.a.s.l.). Kuelap is a place surrounded by beautiful landscapes; at first, it seems inaccessible since it is protected by colossal walls and cliffs on three of its four sides. It has three platforms, and inside they have circular buildings decorated with rhomboidal and zigzag friezes. Its complex interior architecture indicates it was a well-organized population group. The surrounding landscape and the natural scenes make it unforgettable. Return to Nuevo Tingo town for lunch. Then return to Chachapoyas city. (B,L,D)
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lima. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Lima is a modern metropolis full of history, which has approximately 10 million inhabitants and is going through an exciting process of cultural and economic changes.
In the evening, you will have the chance to enjoy a unique evening visit in the most prestigious museum in the city. You will climb the lit pre-Columbian pyramid where the Larco Museum is built, and discover the treasures of ancient Peru while you walk along its halls and galleries. At the end, you will be able to enjoy an exquisite dinner in a magical and cozy atmosphere with a view to the beautiful gardens. (B,L,D)
Overnight Antigua Miraflores or similar
Breakfast this morning is at your hotel. At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight to your onward destination. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures year round.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.