Vida Huancaína

Our adventure in the Andes


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Ferrocarril Central Andino: Taking the train from Lima to Huancayo!

The last big adventure of our trip was riding the train to Huancayo!  The Ferrocarril Central Andino (Central Andean Railway) is one of the highest railways in the world with 340 km of tracks linking the coastal city of Lima and the Andean city of Huancayo!

Ferrocarril Central Andino chugging through the Andes

The route passes over 58 bridges, through 69 tunnels, does 6 zigzags (switchbacks), and passes through many station stops, including Galera Station at 4,781 meters/15,686 feet above sea level!!  While significantly longer than going by bus, the 13-hour journey gives you a unique opportunity to take in the varied landscape from the arid coast up to the snow-covered Andean peak of Ticlio. And, for the train buffs, it gave an opportunity to ooh and ahh over the construction of the railway (imagine 60-year-old men behaving like 5 year olds!).

Video of a zigzag – the train buffs went bananas when this happened.

 

Entering one of the many tunnels

Entering one of the many tunnels

Train tracks hugging the mountainside

Train tracks hugging the mountainside

Looking back through one of the tunnels

Looking back through one of the tunnels

More tracks

More tracks

Video of the landscape after passing by the snow-covered Ticlio peak, the highest point on the railway

More video of the landscape passing through a small town on the way into the Mantaro Valley.  This was actually Chris’ favorite section, as we passed through the river valley adjacent to Huancayo’s at dusk.  Do you see the people waving?

 

The train only runs about once a month in the dry season (June-October) and draws a significant amount of tourists from all over the world, who come to Peru for the sole purpose of riding the train.  When not taking tourists, the railway is used to haul raw materials from the many mines in the Andes down to the coast.

We departed bright and early from the Desamparados Station in Lima and were greeted by the train police band (that’s right, the train not only has its own police force, but they also have their own band).  The station sits smack dab in the center of the city, right behind the Government Palace.

Desamparados Station in the center of Lima

Desamparados Station in the center of Lima (The building to the left is the Government Palace)

There are two classes on the train–classic and tourist.  The tourist section (where we were) comes with a comfortable, reclining seat, breakfast and lunch, a cafe car (and a ticket for a free pisco sour!), and an open car where you can stand and take in the views.  They also have a variety of activities throughout the ride, including traditional dances that reflect the area you happen to be passing through at that moment (e.g. the marinera when you’re still near the coast).

Marinera performance on the train

Marinera performance on the open car of the train

Though we have traveled this route many times by bus, the views are so much more impressive from the train.  Not to mention the trip is less nausea-inducing than the bus, by like a factor of a thousand.  We planned our entire trip around the limited train departure dates and we were not disappointed.  If you ever have the opportunity to take the Ferrocarril Central Andino, you will not regret it!

Here are just a few of the many, many beautiful vistas from the journey.

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Can you see the alpacas?

Can you see the alpacas?

Cars loaded up at one of the many mines ready to be taken to Lima

Cars loaded up at one of the many mines ready to be taken to Lima

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And, finally, a video of the train entering Huancayo. Note the lack of safety measures even though the train runs right through the middle of a main road in the city of 500,000 people… no fences, no guardrails, people just walk across the tracks and cars pass through at intersections without any special warnings!

 

…And that wraps up the adventures from our latest journey.  Now it’s time to get back to living la vida huancaína (the Huancayan life)!

 


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Lima beer love

Another thing we were on the hunt for during our recent trip through Lima was good beer!  In Huancayo the beer consists mostly of national, pilsner-esque beers (think Bud light).  With some online scouting and random travel magazine article reading, we were able to find quite a few delicious beers to try!

The first place where we found delicious brews was La Gastronomía on Libertad between Jose Galvez and Revett streets in Miraflores.  This little market has a lovely selection of wines, cheeses and artisan beers!  They have selections from local brewers Magdalena, Cumbres, and Nuevo Mundo, among others.  We were feeling in the fall spirit (even though it’s starting to be spring here, we’re missing the autumn that’s arriving right now Stateside!), so we selected darker beers.  I immediately selected the Café beer from Cumbres.  It’s actually described as a barleywine (which I don’t think I’ve ever had before), and all I got was a mouthful of delicious coffee flavors.  YUM.  It’s on the stronger side (8%), so you really only need one of them.  Chris selected the Brown from Magdalena and La Pampa Porter from Nuevo Mundo.  The Brown was smooth and easy going without too much carbonation, but didn’t have anything really memorable going for it.  He liked the porter, but said he prefers the Don Juan Porter from Sierra Andina Brewing.  Still, this one from Nuevo Mundo has a cool llama on the front. :)

From left to right: Brown Ale by La Magdalena; Cafe by Cumbres; and La Pampa Porter by Nuevo Mundo

From left to right: Brown by Magdalena; Cafe by Cumbres; and La Pampa Porter by Nuevo Mundo

Trying out the new beers on the patio at our hotel

Trying out the new beers on the patio at our hotel

The second place we found is called Las Vecinas Eco-Bar.  It’s on Colina between San Martín and Grau in Barranco and it turns out that we’ve walked right past it multiple times.  It’s located inside what looks to be an old home and therefore it kind of blends into the surrounding neighborhood buildings.  The place as a very Anthropologie vibe with local fashion designers’ clothing and shoes on display, alongside a small cafe and bar area.  We tried the maracuyá keke (passion fruit cake)–yum–and also sampled a couple of the beers they have on the menu.  I tried the Cabo Blanco from Nuevo Mundo and Chris had the Alpamayo Amber Ale from Sierra Andina.  The Cabo Blanco, a blond ale, had just a touch of hoppiness to it and was really easy to drink.  The Alpamayo Amber Ale was nice too, certainly a break from pilsners around here.

Maracuyá keke and cervezas!

Maracuyá keke and cervezas!

Inside the bar at Las Vecinas Eco-Bar

Inside the bar at Las Vecinas Eco-Bar

I should mention that none of these beers come on tap anywhere in town (that we’ve found!).  The only place with artisan beer on tap is Barranco Beer Company, which we discovered early on during our time here in Peru and usually makes it on our to-do list each time we go through town!  They have about 5 different beers on tap and so far Chis’ favorite there has been a seasonal offering, a dunklewisen, and mine is the Bulls Ay! Ale, a red ale.

Next post… traveling from Lima to Huancayo via one of the highest railways in the world!


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Lima yarn love

Yarns (really good quality ones, at least) have been elusive so far here in Peru.  I’ve found lot of natural alpaca and wool in Hualhuas, but the yarn has been spun unevenly and is full of bits of vegetation from the animals romping around in the fields.  It’s nice to know that the yarn is completely natural and to also know exactly where the fiber is coming from, but there is something frustrating about picking out the little pieces of grass and dealing with the uneven yarn while knitting it up.  After three long months, I finally turned some undyed alpaca yarn from Hualhuas into a sweater for Chris.  It’s truly a one-of-a-kind garment with the striping occurring naturally due to the variation in coloring of the alpacas.  (For those of you with Ravelry accounts, you can see my full project notes here.)

three balls of yarn wound from one bundle and the beginning of a gauge swatch

Natural alpaca yarn from Hualhuas

Finished product!

Finished product!

While it’s a wonderful keepsake from our time here, I have been dying to get my hands on some really nice quality yarn.  On our trip to northern Peru we stopped in Lima both going and returning, so I finally had some time to hunt for yarn shops!  I am happy to report that I found two places with beautiful yarns.  Neither is an exclusive yarn shop, but both had just what I was looking for!

The first yarn I found is at a high-end shop, Sol Alpaca, which sells clothes made from Peruvian alpaca and vicuña fibers.  It’s located in the Larco Mar shopping mall in Miraflores. Buried in the back, next to the novelty shirts and socks, were skeins of yarn!  They had two varieties, a worsted weight made from baby alpaca and silk, and a bulky weight made from alpaca.  I opted for the worsted weight version and bought 3 skeins each of a mellow cream and vibrant turquoise color.  It’s a little on the pricier end ($8.65/skein), but that’s still pretty good compared to what a similar skein would cost in the States!  It’s so so so soft and shimmery thanks to the bit of silk in the yarn.  I couldn’t wait to knit it up, and as soon as we got home from our trip I whipped up a Hudson cowl by Alicia Plummer for Quince and Co. I love, love, love the way the cowl turned out and how it feels against my skin!  It’s nice that it can be worth just draped once around the neck or doubled-up for a warmer version. I have a feeling I may whip up another one with the remaining yarn!  (Full project notes here.)

Beautiful, soft yarn!

Beautiful, soft yarn!

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Draped once

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Wrapped twice

My second yarn find was at Dédalo, yet another high-end shop/art gallery in Barranco.  The shop is located in an old house with each room featuring a collection of different items, from jewelry to textiles.  I spied some handknits in one of the rooms and was surprised to find a stash of yarns tucked away on some shelves!  The yarns are by Ecotintes (a company committed to using natural dyes) and came in different weights of wool or cotton.  I opted for four skeins of a fingering weight wool in a dark blue/green color.  The skeins were more reasonable at $4.15/each.  I’m still thinking about possible patterns to knit up with this soft and beautifully-dyed yarn… but I’ve kind of fallen in love with the Camilla Shawl from Madder’s Anthology 1 (so many beautiful patterns in there!).  Can’t wait to see how it knits up!

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Chachapoyas: The city in the clouds

Main plaza and cathedral in Chachapoyas

Main plaza and cathedral of Chachapoyas

The city of Chacapoyas sits in the middle of the cloud forest in a fairly remote part of northern Peru.  With strong colonial influences, the buildings surrounding the main plaza and cathedral and extending down quaint streets are all uniformly white-washed.  Many have cute little balconies with wooden shutters, often wit a geranium or two providing a pop of color.  Despite it’s remoteness, this small town boasts quite a few tourist-friendly hotels and restaurants.

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Quiet pedestrian-only street

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Sweet, old door

Cathedral gets all lit up at night

Cathedral all lit up at night

We used Chachapoyas as our jumping off point to some of the area’s many attractions, most notably Kuélap.  We stayed in two different hotels during our time there.  The first hotel, Casa Andina Classic Chachapoyas is just 20 minutes from the center of town in the Utcubamba River Valley. Casa Andina is a Peruvian hotel chain with three levels of hotels: Classic, Select, and Private Collection.  Their Chachapoyas location sits in the middle of a chirimoya orchard (a fruit with a similar taste to passion fruit). The restaurant serves breakfast (included in the room rate), lunch and dinner, so you don’t have to leave the hotel once you get there unless you want to.  You can have your meals served in the dining room, on the wrap-around porch, or on the patio overlooking the river.  The grounds are beautiful with a variety of flowers and succulents. The hotel was also nice enough to arrange our tour to Kuélap through a tour agency, Eagle Tours.  The tour van came to pick us up from the hotel so we didn’t have to travel the extra 20 minutes back into town. The quoted rates on the hotel website are on the higher end, but you can get a better rate by booking online in advance!

Casa Andina Classic Chachapoyas

Casa Andina Classic Chachapoyas

Funky old iron filled with succulents

Funky old iron filled with succulents

A garden is not complete without a statue of a lady spinning yarn!

A garden is not complete without a statue of a lady spinning yarn!

Utcubamba River running through the property

Utcubamba River running through the property

For the last night of our trip we stayed in the city itself, at a cute little hotel called Casa Vieja.  The hotel is just a block from the main plaza and maintains its colonial influences, with all the rooms surrounding an inner courtyard.  The rooms are furnished with antique-looking furnishings and white comforters.  A bonus is that the hotel is connected to a restaurant, Terra Mia, which serves breakfast (included in the room rate), lunch and dinner.  The menu has dishes for everyone, including a delicious Belgium waffle!  The coffee is also decent (they have a real espresso maker!).

Inner courtyard at Casa Vieja

Inner courtyard at Casa Vieja

View from our hotel room through a wooden-shuttered balcony

Next stop… back to Lima and then a ride on one of the highest railways in the world!


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Kuélap: A fortress in the cloud forest

Our third and most anticipated stop was the ruins of the fortress of Kuélap!  We planned our entire trip to the north around this one site.  The ruins are not quite as extensive, but every bit as impressive, as those at Machu Picchu (and therefore are often called the “other Machu Picchu”).  Yet Kuélap is much, much more difficult to get to and much less visited by tourists.

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The site was once inhabited by the Chachapoya people (or the “People of the Clouds” since the region is primarily cloud forest).  Scholars know very little about them; we don’t even know what they called themselves!  Chachapoya is the name used by the Incans after they conquered them.

The ruins are situated on top of a mountain at 3,100 meters/10,170 feet above sea level. Using retaining walls, the Chachapoya filled in the top of the mountain with dirt and then built a variety of buildings on top of it.  The site was rediscovered in 1843 and archaeological excavations point to the site being occupied between 500 and 1570 AD.  Some refer to the site as a fortress due to its size and strategic position atop the mountain, and scholars estimate that the site was large enough to house some 3,000 people!  This panorama video gives you a sense of just how immense and remote these ruins are.

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Our tour started outside the grand entrance to the ruins.  It is thought that this entrance was only used by the nobility and upper classes, which included religious authorities.  It leads to the second story of the fortress, where this class of people lived.  The gate starts out wide at the opening and narrows as you go farther inside, an ingenious form of security because any attacking parties would be forced into a single-file line and more easily defeated.

There is also another entrance farther down that was used exclusively by the lower classes and animals and led to the first story of the fortress.  There are still llama hoof prints etched into the walkway!

Main entrance for the upper class residents

Main entrance for the upper class residents

A look inside the entrance

A look inside the entrance

Lower class and animal entrance (there are llama hoof marks preserved in the stone steps!)

Lower class and animal entrance (there are llama hoof marks preserved in the stone steps!)

Glance into the lower class entrance

Glance into the lower class entrance

The buildings are made from bricks of a limestone mix, which have slightly eroded away over time given the large amount of rainfall received each year.  The homes are made of a circular construction, the easiest and most stable type of building for an area prone to earthquakes.  The roofs were thatched and built at a steep angle to facilitate the runoff of the frequent rains.

Ruins of dwellings

Ruins of dwellings

Unrestored bricks

Unrestored limestone bricks

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The northernmost building on the site is thought to have been a lookout or shrine.

Trees and foliage have taken over the ruins, which are only partially restored/excavated

Trees and foliage have taken over the ruins, which are only partially restored/excavated

One of the typical round houses

One of the typical round houses

Rhomboid shapes are typical decorations on the houses

Rhomboid shapes are typical decorations and thought to have sacred meanings for the Chachapoya

More rhomboid and zigzag decorations

More rhomboid and zigzag decorations

View of houses practically built on top of one another

View of houses practically built on top of one another

It was around this point of the tour that our camera battery ran out. :(  Luckily we had Chris’ old iPod with us and were able to get some other snapshots to at least give you a sense of what it’s like up there, including some of the llamas that wander the site!

Majestic llamas that roam over the ruins

Majestic llamas that roam over the ruins

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Curved walls of round buildings

A house that was restored what the scholars imagine they looked like

A house that was restored to what the scholars imagine they looked like

Guard llama (they advise you to stay back from the llamas and avoid eye contact because a tourist was kicked by one last year!)

Guard llama (they advise you to stay back from the llamas and avoid eye contact because a tourist was kicked by one last year!)

More round dwellings

Remains of round dwellings

More dwellings with a view

More dwellings with a view

The Chachapoya lived here for nearly 1,000 years before the Incas arrived and conquered them around 1470 AD.  There are a couple of buildings which show an Incan influence in their building construction.  One such building is El Tintero (Inkpot), which is in the shape of an inverted cone and thought to be an Incan building constructed using Chachapoyan techniques.  Excavations revealed many bones from what appear to be animal sacrifices in the chambers below.  Additionally, there is an etching of a face on one of the bricks near the entrance.  The face is thought to be a depiction of the sun god.  And, as we sat near the building taking in its splendor, the sun peeked out of the clouds (the only time it did so all day!).

Main religious temple, thought to be in devotion to the sun god whose face appears on one of the bricks

Main religious temple, thought to be in devotion to the sun god whose face appears on one of the bricks

Sun god face etched into a brick

Sun god face etched into a brick

The most common launching-off point for these ruins is also the city of Chachapoyas in the Amazonas district.  There is an airport in Chachapoyas, but commercial airlines have stopped flying there because the cloud cover makes flying in and out very difficult and dangerous.  Thus, the bus (a 9-hour haul from Chiclayo on the coast) is the main method of getting there.  Once in Chachapoyas, it’s still a 2 1/2 hour drive in tour van out to the ruins, of which nearly 2 hours is on a dirt road that zigzags up the mountainside.  There is a project planned to build a telecabina (cable car) to access the ruins more easily, but it’s not clear when they anticipate the project to be completed.  So, for now, if you plan on visiting Kuélap be prepared for a long, but very worthwhile, journey to get there!

This site is hands-down our favorite so far in all of Peru.  We still quite a bit left to explore, but Kuélap will always stand out for us as an amazing and impressive site!


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Gocta Falls: the 3rd tallest waterfall in the world!

The next stop on our journey was Gocta Falls!  According to the locals, it’s the 3rd tallest waterfall in the world. Though there are some disputes about it’s ranking (some sources say it’s the 6th tallest, others the 16th), the falls are truly impressive at 771 meters/2,529 feet.  The water that feeds the waterfall accumulates at the top of a mountain and as the rains during the rainy season (October-April) fill up the catchment even more waterfalls appear cascading over the edge of the mountain.  They say that there are a total of 8 falls filled with water all year round, and another 14 that form just during the rainy season.  What an impressive sight that must be!

Gocta Falls

Gocta Falls

Though the falls are easily viewed from nearby towns, they were not officially “discovered” until 2005 by a German who is married to a local and saw the falls during one of his visits to see her family.  The reason given for why the falls were not widely known about outside of the area before 2005 is because the locals believed there to be a curse.  The story goes that a local man went down to the base of the falls and was enchanted by a siren who lives in the water there.  The man never returned to his wife, and she spread news of the siren to all nearby inhabitants and afterward the locals steered clear of the falls for fear of never returning home.

There is also a myth that a jar of gold lays at the base of the falls and is guarded by both the siren and a gold-headed serpent. Interestingly, there really is a hole/tunnel at the base of the falls that extends a couple of km away where some of the water exits.  However, twice each year the hole gets filled with air and explodes with an impressive force that can be heard all over the area.  And, last year, a huge explosion was heard in the middle of the night and a layer of ash was found surrounding the base of the falls the next day!  Sounds to me like someone should look into that.  :)

Since the official discovery, the locals have embraced the increasing tourism and invested by building a hiking path down to the falls (it took them 2 years!).  To visit the falls, you can either arrange a tour with an agency in the nearby large city of Chachapoyas (an hour away), or you can stay in Cocachimba (the nearest small town to the falls) and arrange a tour yourself with the local community tourist association.  We did the latter and ended up with a wonderful tour guide, Samuel.  It costs s./30 ($10.50) to hire the guide and another s./10 ($3.50)/per person entrance fee.

View of the falls from the trail

View of the falls from the trail

Trail hugging the side of the mountain

Trail hugging the side of the mountain

The hike to the base of the falls is pretty tough.  Though it’s only 2.4 km / 1.5 miles in distance round trip, there is an elevation change of 1,600 meters / 5,200 feet!  The path is fairly well established and maintained, though it is muddy and slippery in parts, which must be even worse during the height of the rainy season!  It took us 4 hours round trip with Samuel setting the pace at a fast clip, though they say to allow 5-6 hours.  Alternatively, there are horses for rent for those who aren’t up for the difficulty of the hike.

The base of the falls is quite something.  You can only see the second half of the waterfall (all 540 meters / 1,772 feet of it!) from the base because there is a rocky ledge that beaks up the waterfall.  Even still, the sound of the crashing water is impressive and the mist rises up in ever shifting clouds. While we opted not to go all the way to the base, during the dry season you can go down there and some people even wade into the cold water.  During the rainy season there is too much water coming down to even approach the base of the falls, so all visitors have to stay on the platform where we stopped or even stay a little higher up on the trail.

We made it (just as the rain started!)

We made it (just as the rain started!)

The waterfall lies in what they call selva seca (dry jungle) with lush trees and foliage.  Along the hiking path Samuel pointed out a variety of flora and fauna to us, listening to the sounds of birds and spotting them long before we could.  We saw the native and funnily-named gallito de las rocas (literally translated as “cock of the rock”), as well as toucans and parakeets.  We also saw many types of bromeliads and orchids growing, and lots of butterflies and moths in all shapes and colors.

Female cock of the rock

Female cock of the rock

Male cock of the rock

Male cock of the rock

Three male cock of the rock (their feathers don't make for great camouflage!)

Three male cock of the rock…their feathers don’t make for great camouflage! (P.S. Check out those pink bromeliads!)

Toucan

Toucan! His camouflage is much better.

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Orchids

Gocta Falls aren’t the easiest to get to.  We took a 9-hour long, overnight bus from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas and then an hour-long taxi ride out to Cocachimba.  We splurged and stayed at Gotca Lodge, a beautiful hotel with unobstructed views of the falls from each of its six rooms.  The hotel restaurant serves breakfast (included), lunch, and dinner, so you don’t have to venture too far from the hotel if you don’t want to (not that there is much in Cocachimba anyway).  The hotel also has a few llamas (3 plus a baby) that they tie up on the grass in the late afternoon and leave out overnight while they munch on the grass like natural lawnmowers (genius!).

View of the falls from the hotel (P.S. It's too cold to get in that pool even in the heat of the afternoon, we tried!)

View of the falls from the hotel (P.S. It’s too cold to get in that pool even in the heat of the afternoon, we tried!)

Hotel and llamas!

Hotel and llamas!

Llamas lawnmowers!

Llamas lawnmowers!

Next stop… the ruins at Kuélap!


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Chiclayo: Home to the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán and the King Kong!

Our first stop on our trip north was Chiclayo, the “city of friendship.” While we did find the taxi drivers, hotel staff, and waiters to be friendly, we had a hard time understanding their Spanish!  It’s definitely more lilting with words smooshed together than the clear Spanish spoken in the Andes. The bustling city is a few miles inland from the coast and is home to both the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán and the King Kong!

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Paintings outside the museum, which mimic those found on ceramics and jewelry inside the tombs

The Moche (or Mochica) people lived in this area of the world and built large pyramids around 100 AD that housed tombs of the royal members of the society.  One such pyramid was “rediscovered” in Sipán (just a few miles from Chiclayo) in 1987 after several curious items turned up on the black market and tipped off scholars that a new sight must have been found.  The scholars managed to find the sight and unearthed an amazing amount of artifacts from the tombs in the pyramid, including the tomb of El Señor de Sipán (The Lord of Sipán).

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The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán

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The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán opened in 2002 and is located about 20 minutes outside of Chiclayo in Lambayeque.  The museum is built to mimic the pyramid found at Sipán.  The tour starts on the top floor and you slowly wind your way down the floors as if you were going deeper into the pyramid and unearthing more and more tombs and artifacts.

A reproduction of the tomb of El Señor de Sipán displays him resting bedecked in intricate gold, silver, copper, and turquoise jewelry and accompanied by other remains, including three women (one likely his wife), two males (most likely warriors), a young child, and a dog (probably El Señor’s favorite pet).  Additional tombs were discovered lower in the pyramid, likely the father and grandfather of El Señor.

There were many ceramic pots found in the tombs, which are either shaped into different half-animal/half-human gods (like crabs, owls, and fish) or painted with similar motifs. The amount of jewelry also found at the sight is astonishing.  Most of it has been restored at the museum, but some pieces were left in the state that they were discovered in to show visitors the restoration that was required.

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The museum itself is well done, with a variety of displays and videos throughout.  We went through without a guide, but we did pass a group that had an English-speaking guide who seemed very knowledgeable about the displays.  The entrance fee is s. / 10 ($3.50) per adult.  They do not allow photos inside the museum, but I managed to snag a couple of postcards that show some of the exhibits.  You can also visit a couple of photos galleries online (here and here) to see examples of the jewelry and ceramics found at the sight.

Cathedral on the main plaza in Chiclayo

Cathedral on the main plaza in Chiclayo

Before we traveled there, we had been told that a trip to Chiclayo would not be complete without a King Kong!  What on earth is a King Kong you might ask…it’s a dessert!  It’s two cookies with manjar blanco (milk caramel) in the middle.  Why it’s called the King Kong is still a mystery to us.  They come in a few different fruit flavors like pineapple and passion fruit, but we opted for a bar of the traditional pure manjar blanco. We each tried and little piece and, to be honest, it wasn’t the most amazing dessert we’ve ever had.  The cookies were a little dry and the manjar blanco wasn’t particularly flavorful.  If we ever had one again, we’d definitely try one of the fruit-flavored ones… probably the passion fruit flavor!

King Kong!

King Kong!

For others traveling to Chiclayo, we took a quick, 1 hour 15 minute flight from Lima and stayed at Hostal Hikari.  It was conveniently located a block from the main plaza.  The rooms are tiny, though well appointed and have hot water.  Warning that it is noisy at night from the traffic on the street (though I bet any hotel in the city would be busy since the taxi drivers and other drivers do not shy from using their horns often!).  Breakfast is included and very good!  It’s served on the covered rooftop and you can choose from 5 different options ranging from bread and jam, to fried eggs, to a cheese sandwich, and all come with juice and coffee.

Next stop on our journey… Gocta Falls!

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