Máncora, Chiclayo and Cajamarca
14.03.2013 - 22.03.2013
We made it to the Peruvian border in just the nick of time. We had just 90 minutes left on our three month Ecuadorian tourist visa. While a little sad to be leaving beautiful Ecuador, I was ecstatic to have finally made it to Peru – land of so many attractions like Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and Cuzco. But before we hit the well trodden gringo trail, we wanted to check out the less touristy north starting with the beach resort of Máncora.
--- Perpetually sunny Máncora is considered one of the best beaches in Peru.
Máncora is a laid-back beach town packed with everything you could need for heavy duty R & R. Bamboo bars line the beach front and countless restaurants flog seafood anyway you want it. It’s such a happy place thanks to most of its inhabitants being on holidays. Even the people who live there seem to be vacationing.
For the most part of our stay we sweltered on the sand in amongst Peruvian bikini babes and board shorted surfer boys. The locals love the Aussie surf brands! The waves were fierce we were restricted to quick in and outs to avoid being crunched on the shore. The sunsets in Máncora are out of this world!
After Máncora we continued north to the city of Chiclayo, home to arguably Peru’s most impressive museums. I know, I know – not everyone is as enthusiastic about museums as me, but the Tumbas Reales de Sipán (Royal tombes of Sipán) was pretty special. Even the building itself is worth checking out.
In 1987, archaeologists unearthered a 1700 year old tomb of Ruler Sipán. Just like Egypt’s Tutankhamen, Sipán’s tomb was fully intact, filled to the brim with glorious treasure. The museum shows off all his goodies as well as his entourage who were buried with him to accompany him to the next life (7 in total!). His jewellery, precious objects and burial attire were so exquisite, archaeologists say it’s a no brainer Sipán was an immensely powerful man in the Moche culture (pre-inca).
--- Lord Sipán? But you died 1700 years ago?
Another top thing to do in Chiclayo is the witches markets. Finally, somewhere I can get all my ingredients to make potions under the one roof!
Cajamarca is often described as ‘the Cuzco of the north’ (with a fraction of the tourists) . The Andean city is known for it’s colonial buildings, churches, mines, hot springs and most famously as the place where the Incan empire came to an end in 1532. The city is especially pretty admired from above or at night.
--- Up the stairs and past the church is an incredible lookout (below).
--- Cajamarca in all of it's glory.
--- Lunch break.
--- Iglesia de San Francisco.
--- Cajamarca Cathedral
Just outside the city lies the serene and incredibly interesting Cumbe Mayo. The remote site is naturally stunning in it’s own right, littered with huge volcanic rocks. But what it’s most famous for are the aqueducts built around 3500 years ago! These water channels ingeniously collected water from the Atlantic watershed and redirected it to the Pacific. How clever is that? We did a short hike around the site, stopping for hot corn on the cob and to admire the colourful women weaving. It was a 12 year old girl who stole the show, her singing gave us goosebumps (see below).
--- Steaming hot chocolo. It's not like the sweet corn I'm used to but as Bray observed, "this is amazing, it doesn't get stuck in your teeth!"
--- Precision cut water channels, believed to be carved in 1500 BC. How did they do it?
Cajamarca is famous for it’s dairy products and appropriately every second shop was selling fresh creamy yoghurt, milk and cheese. It seemed fitting that we took a tour to one of the local dairy farms. While there we were taken through the process of making cheese and even got to taste test. But the highlight? Patting this little one…
--- Mmm queso....
--- Near to the farm was this beautiful hydrangea garden.
Another top day trip is a trip out to Otuzco, site of an ancient necropolis. The ‘Ventanillas (small windows) of Otuzco’ are shrouded in mystery. Thousands of years ago the indigenous people carved out little niches in the rock to lay their dead to rest.
--- Ventanillas de Otuzco
So far we’re absolutely loving Peru. Plan is to keep heading south until we meet my parents in Lima. Yep, Mum and Dad are joining in the adventure!