A full guide to Trujillo and Huanchaco
Trujillo is a great place to visit on the way to Ecuador from Peru or vice versa. If you are interested in Peru from an archeological perspective, a visit here is an absolute must and is either a 2 hour flight from Lima or an 8 hour bus from Lima or Mancora. Trujillo will supply you with settlements and temples very different to those found in the more popular Peruvian hotspots.
Around 600 years ago, Chan Chan was the largest city in the Americas and the largest adobe (mud brick) city on earth. Once the home to 60,000 people, it is fun to marvel at the space and visualise all the life that passed through. Chan Chan was eventually abandoned after the Incas invaded and most of its people moved to Cusco, followed by the Spanish who left it alone after taking any remaining silver and gold.
Due to the dry weather conditions in this area Chan Chan has remained in fair condition, but unfortunately rainfall has increased in more recent years and is slowly dissolving the brick back to mud, so make sure you see this delight asap! As we’re not sure how much longer it’ll be around to admire.
Once at the entrance, it is possible to hire a guide to take you around. We split the cost with some others who entered at the same time as us and we'd highly recommend it.
It is super easy to get a taxi to Chan Chan, although they can be quite pricey for a short journey. A taxi is best if you are able to share the ride and split the costs. As Chan Chan is one of the only reasons people are in Trujillo - this shouldn’t be too hard to organise.
If you’d like to save some money or just take a more adventurous route, you are able to catch a bus there from Av Los Inca. The “bus” is more like a mini van (called a combi) and will state that it is headed to Huanchaco. Mention to the driver or conductor that you are heading to Chan Chan and they will drop you off at the right spot, although be aware that you will then have to walk around 2km to the entrance. There are usually taxis waiting around the entrance if you’d like to take a taxi back home or elsewhere.
Huaca del Sol y Luna
Huaca del Sol y Luna are two temple ruins, meaning The Temple of the Sun and the Moon. These temples are 700 years older than Chan Chan, yet impressively, parts are still very well preserved. Huaca del Sol is actually closed to visitors but it can be viewed from Huaca del Luna, as they are only 500m apart. The colourful friezes are the main spectacle in this temple and for good reason! The entry includes an English-speaking guide, who will give more detail of the history that happened within and around the temple walls. One of the richly decorated external walls is the grand finale of the tour, so don’t even think about dropping out early or you will miss out on something spectacular!
A combi leaves Trujillo every 15 minutes from Av Los Incas or of course, it is possible to take a taxi.
Where to stay:
We recommend staying in the family-run Residencial Munay Wasi for cheap private rooms with easy access to the main attractions.
Huanchaco is a lovely, sleepy beach town nearby Trujillo and is believed to be the origin of the famous ceviche dish. It is a great place to visit to just unwind and sample some delicious, fresh seafood. We visited for some dinner and drinks after our day trip and it felt like we stepped back in time! The beach here is beautiful too so you could easily enjoy a night in this sleepy beach town.
Being a beach town, a visit to the beach is of course inevitable. Huanchaco is a hotspot for surfers so there’s lots of surfing activity to feast your eyes on or if you’re a surfer yourself, you can hire wetsuits and surfboards from most of the hostels in the area. People watching from the pier is also a great shout.
Eat on the beachfront
Huanchaco has a line of delightful seafood restaurants along the beachfront so it is a great idea to head to one and catch the sun setting as you eat your dinner overlooking the surfers or the traditional Peruvian fishing boats, known as caballitos de totora. Being the home of ceviche, it makes sense to have some here and we would recommend trying causa too, another delicious Peruvian dish consisting of mashed potatoes and seafood such as crab or tuna. El Sombrero is a fab choice, if you want to slim your options.
Mandalas has an amazing atmosphere, attracting friendly people and good vibes only. The place is covered in vibrant, impressive artwork and they have a great happy hour too. We also hear they do a mean breakfast so more reason to stay the night as Mandala is also a hostel.
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