Archi-exploration in a prehistoric Beatle...

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2013

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Where I stayed
Casa de Clara Trujillo
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Chan Chan Trujillo
Read my review - 2/5 stars
Huaca del Sol y la Luna Trujillo
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Peru  , La Libertad,
Monday, December 10, 2012

At the risk of sounding like a terrible bus bore, I start this once again with a description of how I travelled the 8 hours south from Máncora to Trujillo on yet another overnight bus. But this was no ordinary bus service of the same ilk as National Express or Mega Bus...!! In fact, I'd go as far as to say that Oltursa (the company) would put a lot of airlines to shame, and I don't just been budget airlines. 130 degree reclining seats, blankets, pillows, wifi, hostess trolley service with included drinks and snacks, movies... I had also luckily chosen the very front seat on the upper deck, therefore had a great view out both the front windscreen and side window. Possibly of greater use on a day bus, but it was nice to wake up to see a panorama of the sunrise.

I'd decided to go to Trujillo because it is close to 2 archaeological sites which sounded interesting and worth a visit: Chan-Chan, the largest adobe city in the ancient world, and the Huacas del Moche (Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, the latter being the largest adobe temple in Perú). Yes, finally some building stuff I hear all you architectural enthusiasts say!!

The guesthouse I'd reserved - Casa de Clara - came recommended in my Footprints (2012 edition) guidebook and sounded small, friendly and family-run with the added bonus that they ran their own tours out to the sites. Hhhhhhmmm...well, I'm not sure when it was last actually reviewed, rather than just being rolled over from the previous edition... It felt like you'd strayed into someone's house from the late 60s/early 70s as you had to walk through the family areas to get to the accommodation. This wasn't great either - the rooms were uncomfortable and cramped, the bathroom could have been cleaner and definitely needed mould treatment, and there was a chicken coup directly above me on the roof which woke me up very early in the morning. I have written a full review linked to this for anyone who wants to read more...

I'd requested 2 half day tours to each of the sites. The tours included Clara (guide and driver) and transport - possibly the oldest Beatle I have ever seen still being driven. Whether it should still be on the roads is very debatable!! The whole car rattled as if bits were going to start flying off as the accelerator was pressed, although I reckon the top speed couldn't have been more than 50kph!! Sitting in the front beside Clara, I also found the passenger seat to be loose - it kept sliding backwards and forwards as she increased the speed and then slammed the brakes on to prevent either an accident with another vehicle (she wasn't the safest driver!!) or when approaching one of the many speed bumps in and around Trujillo.

First up, was the visit to Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) and Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun) along with the museum situated adjacent to the sites. The museum is actually really good and a good starting point for understanding the moche culture as has a lot of exhibits and translations into english are provided. Unfortunately, Clara's idea of guiding was to hurry me through her favourite exhibits, in no real logical order whilst offering a very basic explanation in english. I also spent a great deal of the time translating spanish words into english for her so it felt more like a combined english lesson for her/history lesson for me. She also kept asking me to read large chunks of the English text to her. A bit weird for me, but I did it nonetheless. I left feeling like I'd gotten a brief understanding of the Moche culture and what role the Huacas played in it, but also in hindsight wish I'd asked for time alone in the museum to read the information a bit more thoroughly.

Huaca de la Luna is the only site you can visit. It's believed to have performed a religious and ceremonial function for the Moche city and was at one point fully decorated with brightly coloured murals. Years of looting and sun damage means that most of what you see now is brown adobe brickwork, with small sections of murals only visible in certain locations. One which was really interesting was the 'Mural of Myths' which incorporated many of the symbols of Moche life and culture - waves, manta rays, owls, eggs, snakes, pelicans, fish etc. One bonus here was that what you saw seemed to be authentic, preserved as originally found unlike what I was later to see at Chan Chan...

The next day I did the second of the tours to Chan Chan, the ruins of an adobe city built by the Chimu, who grew out of the Moche civilisation. Although the city covers a massive area (20km2) you can only visit one of the 10 citadels which formed the complex. Massive triangular walls surround the citadel built to withstand earthquakes and also protect against the weather coming in from the pacific coast. Inside, labyrinths of passages lead to burial chambers, ceremonial rooms, reservoirs, temples and some residencies. Carvings are believed to have been extensive throughout the complex using many of the symbols important to its people, specifically sea related - nets, birds, fish, waves etc. Unfortunately, much of the work done at Chan Chan has been focused on restoring a lot of these features as opposed to preserving what was found. In some instances this restoration is obviously different to the original. There was also one excavated temple that apparently had a 'mummy' inside it. Although too far away for the naked eye, I did manage to see it through the zoom on my camera...revealing what looked more like something we would put on top of a bonfire. It may well have been authentic, but this and finding out about the restoration made the visit less enjoyable as I wasn't sure how much was 'fake' and what was authentic. Clara was very honest in saying that there have been great issues with corruption and that some of the money received has never been used to finance the excavations of Chan Chan. At this point in time there is no excavation going on, which given the size of the site and how much remains unexplored is really very sad. Especially if there is money available and it is lining people's pockets instead...

Anyway, enough on the ruins...!! Trujillo itself has an attractive historic centre, but not one which is notable enough to stop in if you aren't interested in visiting either of the sites mentioned. One other draw is its proximity to the coastal town of Huanchaco, famed for its cabballitos de tortera (little reed horses) - boats made from reeds used by the local fishermen. These can be seen lining the beach and I believe you can go out in one if you so wish. Unfortunately, I had spent most of the morning in the post office trying to post a parcel back to the UK for Christmas so only had enough time to take the obligatory photos and then hop on the bus back to Trujillo. If Wikipedia is to be believed, Huanchaco was also the birthplace of ceviche...not sure about this but who knows!!

I decided to leave Trujillo a day ahead of my original schedule as managed to see what I wanted in 2 days. I didn't really want to stay at Casa de Clara (especially as they tried to overcharge me for the tours and claim I owed them the difference for the discounted entry to both the sites!!) until my bus left so went to the cinema to see Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 2. For those who know the story, it's not too hard to follow even in Spanish and I managed to understand enough of it to enjoy it. The acting is even worse with dubbed speaking though...!!
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Pigwig on

You are so brown ...... well jel ; )
What a pimping bus, Emirates should take note
Glad to see one of Betty's cousins whizzed you around.
BTW Xmas Parcel arrived today ; )

curlsandtales on

If Betty was anything like this junk bucket then I would be happy to lend you money to get her pimped up!! Xx

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