- Explore northern Peru's most spectacular and well-preserved archeological sites.
- View the mummy of the Lord of Sipan at the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum.
- Marvel at the El Brujo pyramid's exquisitely-preserved reliefs.
- Discover the ruins of Chan Chan, once the largest adobe city in South America.
- Visit the grand mansions and churches of colonial Trujillo.
Enlightened travelers have begun looking beyond Machu Picchu to Peru's far north for archeological treasures rivaling those found anywhere in the world. The coastal desert region is home to fantastic ruins sites, ancient tombs, and royal mummies—remnants of civilizations that flourished long before the Inca Empire stretched across the land.
Our exploration begins in Chiclayo, a short flight from Lima. After a visit to the world-famous tomb of the Lord of Sipan, we travel to mysterious Tucume where over two dozen pyramids built in the 11th-century rise from the valley floor. Continuing towards Trujillo, marvel at the El Brujo pyramid, built from tens of thousands of adobe bricks with walls depicting warriors, gods, and animals.
The monumental mud-brick city of Chan Chan is the final "lost ruin" along our route. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Chan Chan once housed over 100,000 people, making it the largest pre-Columbian city in South America. Concluding in Trujillo, we tour the city's beautiful colonial mansions and visit the beach to watch the fisherman in traditional fishing boats.
- Day 1 - Arrive Chiclayo and explore the tomb and museum of the Lord of Sipan.
- Day 2 - Visit El Brujo pyramid and see the tatooed mummy of the "Lady of Cao".
- Day 3 - Explore Trujillo's fantastic Huacas del Moche pyramids and ruins of Chan Chan.
- Day 4 - Bid farewell to northern Peru's coastal desert and return to Lima.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Arrive Chiclayo and explore the tomb and museum of the Lord of Sipan.
Our trip begins today in Chiclayo, Peru. Arrive in Chiclayo this morning and transfer to your hotel. A transfer guide will greet you at the Chiclayo airport and transport you to the hotel where you will have an opportunity to leave your luggage and freshen up before beginning the day's adventure.
Our first stop today will be the imposing Moche culture burial mound of Huaca Rajada where the famous tomb of the Lord of Sipan was discovered in 1987. As the tomb was found completely undisturbed and intact, its discovery is considered to be one of the most important archeological finds in South America during the last half-century. The main mummy excavated from the tomb was adorned with precious jewelry and dressed in fine clothing leading researchers to believe the individual buried here was a member of Moche royalty. We explore the tomb and the neighboring site museum as a precursor to our visit to the amazing Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum later this afternoon. Leaving Huaca Rajada behind, our next stop is the mysterious ruins site of Tucume, a series of 26 pyramids rising from the valley floor, believed to have been built by the Lambayeque people that inhabited this region between the 9th and 14th centuries. To this day, local shaman invoke the power of Tucume and its gods in their rituals and area residents avoid this ruins complex at night. After an early afternoon lunch break, we devote the remainder of the day to the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum. The three-story museum contains by far the greatest intact collection of gold artifacts in the Americas. Shaped like the pre-Columbian pyramid under which Peruvian archaeologists discovered the actual tomb, the museum is also a mausoleum, as the Lord of Sipan's remains as well as those of two other excavated figures – an ancestor of the lord and a high priest – are placed in a wooden coffin as the final exhibit. At day's end, we return to our hotel in Chiclayo for dinner and a good night's sleep. Lunch and dinner included.
Day 2 - Visit El Brujo pyramid and see the tatooed mummy of the "Lady of Cao".
After breakfast this morning we board our private vehicle with our guide and travel southeast towards Trujillo (110 miles), stopping at various points along the way to enjoy the coastal desert landscapes and scenery. Twenty miles from Trujillo, we arrive in the Chicama Valley, the location of the magnificent El Brujo (translated as "The Sorcerer") archaeological complex. Constructed from tens of thousands of adobe bricks, the El Brujo pyramid served as a ceremonial center and gathering place for several pre-Columbian cultures that made this region their home including the Moche and Cupisnique. Containing walls covered with colorful reliefs depicting prisoners, warriors, dancers and various scenes from Moche life including human sacrifice, the artwork is exceptionally well-preserved as a result of the dry desert climate. In 2007, an intricately tattooed mummy of a woman belonging to Moche Royalty was discovered here and has since been named "Senora de Cao". Featured in National Geographic, the mummy has been dated to 450 A.D. and was found in a sealed funerary chamber with headdresses, jewelry made of gold and semi-precious stones, various weaving tools, and war clubs – the latter very rarely found inside a woman's tomb. Our guide will explain some of the theories about the Lady of Cao's life and cultural status before we view the mummy itself, on display at the site. After our visit to El Brujo, we continue on to Trujillo for dinner. Overnight in Trujillo for the next two nights. All meals included.
Day 3 - Explore Trujillo's fantastic Huacas del Moche pyramids and ruins of Chan Chan.
We begin the day with a tour of Trujillo including a visit to some of the beautiful colonial mansions and churches that still stand in the city's historic center. Later this morning, we travel to the Huacas del Moche, an outstanding archaeological site comprised of the enormous pyramidal Temple of the Sun – the largest adobe structure in South America estimated to have been built of 130 million bricks – and the more well-preserved Temple of the Moon, its walls lavishly adorned with painted friezes dominated by an anthropomorphic face surrounded by symbols representing nature spirits. Collectively, these temples represented the most important ceremonial center on the northern coast of Peru during Moche times. A short drive from the Huacas del Moche lies marvelous Chan Chan, the ruins site of the largest city in pre-Columbian America. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu kingdom and, stretching across 12 square miles, was home to approximately 100,000 people at its zenith. Although Chan Chan has been weathered over the centuries by coastal winds, rains and flooding, many of the city's primary architectural features (massive walls, courtyards, buildings and temples) remain intact as do numerous examples of Chimu artwork including intricate wall carvings and paintings. After a guided tour of Chan Chan, we head towards the coast and end our day in the laid back seaside town of Huanchaco. Here, we have an opportunity to watch the local fishermen ply their trade using traditional caballitos de totora, small boats handcrafted entirely of reeds and used by the local peoples to ride the ocean waves for millennia. Time permitting, we spend some time relaxing on the beach before returning to Trujillo. Northern Peru is known to have some of the best cuisine in the entire country and we'll enjoy dinner tonight at a local restaurant offering traditional regional dishes. All meals included.
Day 4 - Bid farewell to northern Peru's coastal desert and return to Lima.
We say a fond farewell to northern Peru this morning. A transfer guide will pick you up at your hotel at the designated time and transport you to the Trujillo airport for your flight back to Lima. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Hotel accommodations for 3 nights; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; local English-speaking guide; all ground transportation as noted in itineraru; all excursions as noted in itinerary; entrance fees to all sites/museums noted on itinerary; airport transfers in Chiclayo and Trujillo.
Airfare to Chiclayo/from Trujillo, Peru; alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; guide gratuities; laundry fees; airport taxes; excess baggage charges or insurance of any kind.
This trip is rated as Easy Active . Although only light physical exertion will be required during your time visiting Northern Peru, our days are full and include a variety of site visits that incorporate a lot of walking and time spent on your feet.
The climate in Peru's northern coast is a desert climate with typically warm days and pleasant evenings throughout most of the year and minimal rainfall. Daytime temperatures range from the low 70s to mid-80s with evenings cooling down into the 60s. The warmest, wettest days generally occur during the months of December – April (Peruvian summer) but even during summer months, temperatures do not often rise above 85° F and monthly rainfall rarely exceeds 1-3 inches.
This extension can be reserved for single travelers. If you are traveling alone, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted on the trip itinerary.
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Lost Ruins of Northern Peru Extension Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary.
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- Duffel bag (wheels and retractable handle are fine) sturdy and large enough to hold clothing and gear
- Passport security pouch or belt
- Daypack to carry extra clothing, camera, water and snacks
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Lightweight, easily washable items for evening wear or when traveling
- Rain jacket (or poncho) - waterproof and breathable
- Walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots, well broken-in
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Lightweight long-sleeve shirt(s) for sun / insect protection
- Walking shorts - synthetic, quick-dry
- Pants - synthetic, quick-dry
- Sun hat
- Water bottles (1-quart size) or hydration pack
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Insect repellent
- Personal first-aid kit
- Hand/body wipes
- Toiletry kit
- Hand sanitizer gel
- Watch with alarm or travel alarm
- Camera, extra memory and batteries
- Reading and writing materials
- Ziploc bags for easy storage
- Favorite energy snacks and drink mixes
- Personal medication
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, hiking boots, a pair of shorts/shirt/fleece top/sandals and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Bring clothing that is lightweight and protects you from the sun. It is always good to have a lightweight, long-sleeve jacket, especially for the evenings.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure shoes are broken-in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
- Plastic bags are great for keeping clothing and gear dry. Use Ziploc bags to keep wet clothes separate from dry clothes.
- If you wear prescription glasses, use a safety cord and bring an extra pair if possible. Contact lens wearers should also bring an extra set, or bring eyeglasses for a backup.
- Space for luggage is limited. Pack light, fitting all clothing into one duffel bag. During the day, plan on carrying a small daypack with sunscreen, raingear, water bottle/hydration system and camera.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.