Category Archives: Northern Peru

4 must-see sites in Chachapoyas

It was pitch black outside, the long  and winding route drove us off into the unknown. We knew our destination was Chachapoyas, but little did we know what to really expect. As we stumbled down the bus, eyes burning, necks hurting and tired, we could see the sun rise slowly onto a beautiful, colonial city. We walked on the cobble stone streets and finally arrived to our hotel. The city of Chachapoyas was the sixth city founded by the Spanish on Sept 5th of 1538. It is located in between the mountains and the jungle.

After a quiet breakfast, it was time to explore! We soon realized that there are SOOO many things to do and that it would be difficult to choose what we would do for the next four days: from day trips, to cultural sites, or to several day hikes: Chachapoyas has it all. In total, there are approximately 670 sites that have yet to be discovered.
The best part? Not many tourists! Maybe this is because the journey to get to Chachapoyas is quite an experience in itself, or maybe because it is not much talked about and maintains a certain mystery.

In order to discover a little more, and to make your travel planning a little easier, here are 4 must-see sites in Chachapoyas:

  • Kuelap

Kuelap is known as the “Machu Picchu” of the Chachapoyas culture. The day we went it was raining the whole morning, but the pre-inca archeological site is impressive.

Kuelap

  • Gocta Waterfall

Spend the day with nature as you hike for about 5km to get to the beautiful waterfall, known as Gocta. Depending on the time of the year, there may be little water (like in my photos), or the waterfall can be very full. It is the third longest in the world and is 771m high.

Gocta

  • Revash

Our guide explained that they are not quite sure where the idea came from to build the small houses in the mountains. The mausoleum of Revash is a site where the people’s bodies were deposited (they were not buried, just deposited). This site is very unique because it is the only one in Peru and in South America.

Revash

 

  • Karajía Sarcophagus 

These sarcophagus are very unique because the mummies inside are in a fetal position. Only those of high ranking were deposited here as an honour. The sarcophagus are about 2.5m high, they are a little far; you can see them, but if you have a good camera zoom or extra lens, then even better!

Karajia

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Huaca Rajada, Sipan

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Saliendo de Chiclayo, pasando por el valle de Lambayeque a unos 30km de la ciudad, se encuentra el pueblo de Sipán, y la Huaca Rajada, sitio considerado uno de los descubrimientos arqueológicos más importantes de los últimos 30 años. La palabra Sipán, es un término Mochica que significa Casa o Templo de la Luna o Casa de los Señores.

En el 1987, los huaqueros encontraron y robaron una tumba real, después de lo cual Water Alva empezó la excavación del sitio. La Antigua plataforma de adobe se compone dos grandes construcciones piramidales de más de 30 metros de altura, las cuales eran, en su época, un importante santuario religioso.

La cultura Mochica se extendía entre Piura en el norte, hasta Huarmey en el sur, entre los siglos I y VII. Para los Mochicas, la muerte no era el final, sino que uno seguía viviendo en otra esfera del mundo; razón por la cual los muertos eran enterrados con ofrendas, sus bienes personales, y también con las personas importantes de su vida, como sus mujeres, hijos, o también con perros y/o llamas.

En el Museo de Sitio de Huaca Rajada se pueden ver los esqueletos y los objetos encontrados en las tumbas del Sacerdote Guerrero y el Noble Mochica. Los objetos importantes y las ofrendas que se encontraron en las tumbas eran ornamentos, tocados, narigueras, orejeras, collares, y atuendos de oro, plata, conchas y spondylus, cobre dorado y piedras semi-preciosas como turquesas.  También se encontraron varias cerámicas con las representaciones de las creencias de los Mochicas y materiales audiovisuales que explican el dessarrollo de ésta cultura norteña. Éstos encuentros son importantes en ayudar a conocer y entender el nivel de desarrollo, la organización socio-politica y el pensamiento religioso y espiritual de una de las culturas pre-incas más importantes.

Dirección:

Complejo Arqueológico de Huaca Rajada

Campiña Huaca Rajada s/n, Zaña

Lambayeque – Perú

Tarifas:

Adultos y extranjeros:                              S/  8.00

Estudiantes Educ.Sup. y jubilados:      S/  3.00

Escolares y Niños:                                     S/  1.00

Más información, visita: http://www.museotumbasrealessipan.pe/

Peru: a diverse underwater world yet to be discovered

Peru’s Pacific coast is famous for its beaches and for its waves and surfing. However, one would not necessarily think of going down into the ocean to discover its richness and diversity in underwater life. Scuba diving in Peru is not particularly popular, yet. Which is also one of the reasons why it is well preserved and full of bio marine surprises. The merging of the Pacific Tropical current and the Humbolt current has created rich and unique ecosystems that are full of marine life. This results in over 2700 marine species in Peru, which include different types of fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and mammals such as dolphins, humpback whales and sea lions.

The first PADI school in Peru, Spondylus, is located in Mancora and they offer everything from discovering scuba diving, to fun dives, to the certification courses offered by PADI. (Visit http://buceaenperu.com/eng.php)Image

El Ñuro

This diving site is located 6km from Órganos in the province of Piura. A big colony of green turtles live in the area. This type of turtles is in danger of extinction because of the fisherman who hunt them for their shells in order to make handicrafts. This dive site is not very deep, about 7-8m, and is perfect for beginners. Although it is fairly shallow, you still get to see these wonderful creatures, as well as an incredible amount of fish, and we were lucky enough to see two seahorses as well!

See http://www.ecoceanica.org/ for more information about the protection of the underwater world of the eastern Pacific

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Diving in Peru

Diving in Peru is not something that you hear about very much. Of course, when one thinks of Peru, automatically ceviche, Machu Picchu and surfing come to mind. However, there are some dive operators in Peru. In the Northern part I found two: One in Punta Sal (no website) and the other in Mancora.

Unfortunately, we were not able to go diving because there were too many waves. This is what happens: When the surfing is good, the diving is not.

A few important things to note: I would not recommend anyone doing their first diving experience in Peru, because of the waves, but this depends when you go. The water is also very cold, a wetsuit is definitely needed and provided. During the first week of January when I was there, visibility I was told was between 4-10m.

Mancora: Spondylus Diving: http://www.spondylusgroup.com/diving/eng.php

New Year/Northern Peru

So, how does it feel to celebrate a New Year in a different country?

Acapulco, PeruWell, this year, I celebrated 2013 in Northern Peru. For Peruvians, no matter what, the New Year must always be celebrated with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend. Families may get together but once the clock strikes 12, there is no other place one wants to be other than between the arms of one’s other half.

There was one thing that people do for New Years that caught my attention. The first essential thing needed is a head made of papier maché with a painted face. These are either made at home, or can be bought off the street as women with carts full stroll around selling them a few days before December 31st. Then, a body is made with normal clothes found at home, creating a type of human sized “piñata”. However, rather than using candy as a stuffing, they put firecrackers. The doll is hung,  and once the body is destroyed, and when midnight hits, they are all started and fireworks explode in the sky. Let me also mention here that the best one we saw driving around was dressed as a police officer (Because yes, the police is apparently hated no matter where you are in the world). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a photo.

There are some similarities between Lima and Montreal for example, such as  the big expensive cosmopolitan parties; those with the overly expensive entrance fees, girls in amazing dresses and heels, and guys also getting dressed up for the occasion. In Northern Peru, we went to a hotel inauguration and then to a new year party after twelve, which was not so extravagant in appearance, but extravagantly amazing and a night to remember.

Zorritos is a small village in the Northeastern part of Peru, also known as Tumbes province. The population is of about 6000 people. The New Year party was organized at someone’s house. I was shocked as I entered the home, went through the entrance way and living room and found their backyard filled with over 2000 people, an enormous stage with live music and a DJ, as well as several bars selling beverages. Everyone was there dancing, drinking and celebrating the arrival of 2013. Although everyone from the town knows each other, it seemed like I was there as another one of them and it felt like it was just a big group of family and friends getting together to celebrate.

And so, if you a really are ever in Peru for the New Year or even in any other part of the world for that matter, the celebration of the New Year is what you decide to make of it and who you are with, because really, not much else matters.

For hotels in Zorritos, see:

www.costaazulperu.com

Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna

Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna belonged to the pre-incan culture named Moche. Their existence was discovered by German archealogist Max Uhle in 1909. Between centuries I and VII, the Moche people extended their territory in Northern Peru and the two temples are located by the Moche valleys and near a mountain called Cerro Blanco.
One of the temples is dedicated to the Sun and the other to the Moon, but according to their beliefs, the latter was the most important, unlike other cultures.


The first temple, la Huaca del Sol, is one of America’s biggest prehispanic adobe structures, measuring 345m by 160m by 30m, but only one third remains as it was destroyed by conquerors searching for gold and treasures. It is believed that the Moche used this temple for civic-administrative reasons more than religious ones and it cannot be visited.

The Huaca de la Luna is a 12,000 square meters temple, which was dedicated to political and religious duties. It was a place only for human sacrifices or those of high religious importance that could access the temple. Humans would be sacrificed when a natural disaster, known as El Nino would occur. They believed in several gods and this could be seen in their ceramics for example the serpent, the seal or the octopus. The colourful paintings that still remain on the walls of this temple are gigantic and beautiful, with still some vibrant colors. Many tombs have been discovered here as well, including skeletons and ceramics. The ceramics were of animals and the colors used were red and cream colors; in the final phases of the Moche, the ceramics were much darker, almost black. Many things are still unknown about the Moche culture and archaeologists are working on more discoveries and on the restoration and preservation of these two temples.

El Chan Chan

Escapades to other cities or sites have been almost a mission since my arrival in Lima. This weekend, we went up north, to Trujillo and stayed in beautiful Huanchaco, little beach surfer town just outside the big city on the Pacific coast of Peru. Also in the surrounding areas are preserved and restored ancient pre-inca archaeological sites, known as: Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna, El Chan Chan.

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Chan Chan (Sun Sun in Quechua) was the capital of the Chimú civilization, which lasted from A.D. 850 to about 1470, when they were conquered by the Incas. The adobe city was and still is the largest adobe city on earth with 20 km². It was estimated that there were about 50,000 people living in Chan Chan. Inside the city, there are 11 palaces that were built for each governor, because a palace could not be used by 2 governors. Governors could have several wives, up to 90, who lived inside the palace also. Within the city walls, there are many ceremonial plazas, temples, chambers, and rooms, all of which are surrounded by 15meter walls. These walls were to protect the city against the wind and also against the enemy. Surprisingly, you also find inside the city (located in a desert) small gardens and ponds thanks to their inauguration systems. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions and heavy rainfalls, the adobe city was partly destroyed, but efforts are put towards the site’s preservation.  Archaeologists are still discovering many new parts of the city and there is only one palace that can be visited, as others are still buried. The Chan Chan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.