Perhaps the most underrated historical region in all of Peru, the coast North of Lima is a host to a number of very important sites, perhaps none more impressive than the Chan Chan adobe city. The region is often skipped simply because it sits north of Lima and out of the typical loop of Lima–>Arequipa–>Cusco. However, one would be doing themselves a serious disservice by skipping this area. It’s true that the beach town of Huanchaco has given way slightly over the years to other beaches further north, but it still makes for a nice place to base yourself for exploration, and a couple days of relaxation or surf if you have the free time. The nearby city of Trujillo is the third biggest city in Peru and although being more or less void to tourism activity the main city plaza is still worth a look.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Budget: $30-45 per day
Things to do in Trujillo & Huanchaco
- Chan Chan Ruins: This great adobe city is the main reason to visit the region. Although you can only enter into one of the sites, the sheer size will blow you away. The fact that it is so close to the sea, but yet still completely built of sand is also very impressive. You can get a guide at the entry or walk it alone, although I recommend a guide.
- Huaca del Luna: Before Chan Chan was created another great adobe city also existed. The Sun and Moon temples sit right across from each other and from the outside look like sand hills. However on the inside of the Huaca del Luna you can see they are so much more than that. These temples have some of the most well persevered archaeological carvings (some still painted in colour) in all of Peru. Guides, again, are available on entry.
- Caballitos: Fisherman set out from the beach of Huanchaco using boats made of reeds which they straddle like a horse. You can watch from the shores, or even ask for a ride for a couple bucks.
- Surfing: The wave are most tame and consistent by the pier, there are bigger waves around but the current is tough so be careful. Lessons and board rentals are available as well.
Where to Eat
Food is definitely not one of the high points of a visit to Huanchaco/Trujillo. One would think that a city on the sea would feature some great eats, but I was always left rather disappointed. However, you can almost never go wrong with ceviche or milanesa de pescado. The restaurants listed below are all in Huanchaco as I never ate dinner in the city.
- El Caribe: Head here for seafood, as it is one of the best. I almost always got the ceviche.
- Mama Mia: If you’ve had enough seafood Mama Mia has a good variety of tasty pizzaas.
- Mococho: If you’re budget can handle it this is known to be the premier eating destination in Huanchaco and the views are very good. (mains between $10-18)
Where to Stay
Most agree that it is best to stay in Huanchaco rather than Trujillo. The beach town is quieter and much more peaceful than the city. Besides, it’s only about a 10minute minibus ride if you decide you want to head back into the city.
- Naylamp: For me there is no better place to stay in Huanchaco. There is camping, they have dorms, and they have private rooms. If you’re looking for a private room ask for a room in the back on the second level as the rooms are much nicer. The value is very good here as well (camping $3-5, Dorm $5-6, private $12-15 per person). The breakfast here is also amazing although not included. There is wifi and they have 2 computers for use.
- Hotel Bracamonte: If you’re looking for a quieter place to stay this hotel is quite nice and has a pool. However, don’t expect to meet anyone. Includes breakfast, has a couple nice computers and wifi. Prices around $20 per person.
Like most places in Peru you aren’t going to have all too much trouble communicating with the outside world, although don’t expect the internet to be lighting fast. There are two internet cafes down near the pier in Huanchaco, but most of the hotels in town have computers and wifi.
Getting out of Town
You’ll have to go into Trujillo to catch the bus, and there is no central bus station so you have to go to the terminal of the company you’re using. Below are some of the destinations:
- Lima: About 7hrs. Try El Dorado or Movil Tours. Avoid Ormeno as they are expensive and always late.
- Huaraz: About 8hrs. I always go with Movil Tours when I can, and they are really the best option for this route.
- Mancora: About 8hrs. Again, go with Movil Tours or El Dorado. Ormeno does this route as well, but as I mentioned, avoid them if you can.
- Quito/Guayaquil: If you’re looking for a direct bus to Ecuador you won’t find it. Ormeno is the best you can do but even they switch you onto a different bus at the border.
Back to the Peru travel guides