Timeless monuments of the earliest Indian cultures, the Chimu and the Moche, flourished in the narrow desert strip between the ocean and the Andes, and the discovery of the gold-filled tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1988 has boosted the region's visitor fortunes. Surfers too, in search of the big wave, are drawn to the beaches outside Trujillo, as are anglers looking for the big catch in black marlin and swordfish, further up the coast.
An enormous adobe city built by the Chimu in the 10th century, Chan Chan is the finest example of pre-Inca architecture in the country. A short distance from Trujillo, the city is made up of 10 self-contained "neighborhoods," each built by the reigning monarch to house his courtiers and household, and upon his death, his royal tomb.
The Burning Archaeological Museum contains a superb collection of the Moche culture treasures that have emerged in the exploration of Sipan and other sites of this region. Lambayeque is five miles from Chiclayo, whose fascinating "witch- craft" market displays herbs and charms used by the "healers" of the region.
The richest burial chambers ever found in the Americas were discovered in the last decade and continue to be excavated in this site. Undisturbed for 17 centuries, these intact tombs are yielding astounding quantities of exquisitely crafted jewelry and ornaments, as well as valuable insights into the Moche culture.
More than 1,000 years old, this is an enormous complex whose pyramids, funeral mounds of the necropolis and ceremonial center were explored under the direction of famed Norwegian explorer-archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl. The site is surrounded by the world largest Algarrobo (carob tree) Forest, with many different bird species, butterfly and other wildlife.
A quaint mountain town, Huaraz sits in the fertile Callejon de Huaylas valley, framed by the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra mountain ranges. Easily combined with a visit to Trujillo, Huaraz is also the ideal starting point for day hikes into the mountains or more adventurous mountain climbing expeditions.
A relaxed day-drive inland from Trujillo, the isolated mountain city of Cajamarca is known for its history (Pizarro captured the Inca emperor Atahualpa here), unique Andean architecture and beautiful countryside.