Sacred Earth Travel - Sustainable Nature and Adventure Travel


Moche Kingdom - Northern Peru Archaeology Tour

In Chiclayo, visit the most famous Sipan tomb, deemed one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the last 30 years and trace the steps of the ancient Peruvians at the pyramids of Tucume. In Trujillo, visit the beautiful Sun and Moon temples built by Moches, the colonial city and Chan Chan citadel, the capital of the Chimu empire.

Lords of Sipan

Day 1 - Lima to Chiclayo: the 'Cracked Pyramid', Túcume, and the Royal Tombs of Sipán.

We take an early morning flight from Peru's capital to the northern city of Chiclayo, and after some rest time we set off for the mud-brick pyramid that made world headlines in 1987 with one of the most sensational finds of recent archaeology. Known as the Huaca Rajada -- the 'Cracked Pyramid', because of the deep gulleys weathered into its flanks -- this eroded adobe platform yielded fabulous ancient treasures from a series of deeply buried tombs of the pre-Inca Moche culture, who lived in the valleys of Peru's north coast 1,500 years ago. To get there we drive east up the broad, flat Reque valley past fields of sugarcane studded with varicolored pastel foothills of the great Andean chain, then arriving at the modern village of Sipán. Here we see the tombs themselves, with superb reconstructions of the burials of priests and chieftains, together with their sacrificed guards and companions.

A highly informative site museum tells the story of this extraordinary civilization, who created some of the finest pottery, jewelry and goldworking of the Americas -- while also staging macabre costumed rituals of combat, sacrifice and propitiation as they sought to mediate a never-ending struggle between the forces of Order and Chaos.

We return to Chiclayo for a delicious lunch of Peru's northern-style cuisine, and then continue on to Lambayeque, where we visit the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum. This modern building, representing the style of a Moche pyramid, was built to house the stunning and priceless objects unearthed at Sipán. (A single looted object from the tombs was intercepted at an auction in the U.S. -- carrying a reserve price of $1.6 million!)

Here we see the incredible array of precious symbols and images, stones and shell necklaces, ear-plugs and headdresses that were worn and displayed at Moche ceremonies, and also learn what is known of their meaning. This astonishing visit ends at an "animated waxworks" exhibit of the lords and retinue of the Moche court, allowing us to glimpse and imagine the world of an unfamiliar but dazzling civilization that thrived here at a time when Europe was sliding into the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.

After these sensational experiences we drive to an oasis of calm at Tucumé, today's final destination. Here we see the chronological sequence that followed the fall of the Moche, at a site where their descendants, the Sicán culture, continued to amass millions of adobe bricks for the building of mighty pyramids -- including the longest of its kind in the world, at more than 700m/2,300ft -- but were now influenced by highland tribes, and began to abandon their old ways. The history of this scenic site -- extensively investigated by the famed Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl -- leads us all the way to the Incas, who conquered the region not long before they, in turn, were conquered by the Spanish. We can climb to a viewing platform with superb views of the surrounding pyramids and the dry woodland habitat of the Leche valley. We can also visit the small, intimate and low-tech site museum, to enjoy the excellent collection of excavated objects, dioramas of daily life, and models of the pyramids.

We return to Chiclayo for an overnight stay.


Day 2 - Chiclayo to Trujillo - Across the North Peruvian desert to Trujillo and the Moche pyramids of the Sun and Moon

In the morning, we'll travel with our guide by private car or bus to Trujillo. This half-day journey south down the Pan-American highway offers a shifting panorama of scenes from coastal Peru, alternating irrigated river valleys such as the Jequetepeque and Chicama, with stretches of arid dune and rocky desert. We make a stop at an hacienda in Paiján to enjoy a delicious lunch, along with a colorful display of the skilled horsemanship of local Peruvian paso horses and their riders, who combine their art with the dance and music of the northern marinera. This is an optional activity (cost not included), which we highly recommend.

Optional visit the archaeological site of El Brujo: This site featured in National Geographic magazine after the sensational discovery here of the mummy of a tattooed priestess, buried with a variety of ceremonial and military accoutrements. An extraordinary array of multicolored murals dating from seven or more phases of construction depicts both scenes from the daily lives of the Moche, and gory rituals of sacrifice.

We arrive in Trujillo in the early afternoon. This city, founded in 1534 on the orders of Francisco Pizarro, maintains a colonial atmosphere, with its spacious main square, and marvellous colonial-period adobe buildings in the coastal colonial style, featuring huge barred windows and massive wooden doorways. We continue onwards, driving a short way from Trujillo, to visit the Huaca de la Luna, and the Huaca del Sol, two huge flat-topped pyramids built by the Moche culture between 0 and 600A.D. The Huaca de la Luna is an extraordinary demonstration of what patient long-term archaeology can achieve. Here, at a site that has been well known and frequently looted for centuries, excavations have revealed layer upon layer of ancient construction, uncovering wall after wall of colorful friezes that were intentionally buried by the Moche, and had not seen the light of day for one-and-a-half thousand years. Bloodthirsty fanged deities and exotic gods in the form of spiders, snakes felines, octopi and other marine creatures rub shoulders with lines of dancers, warriors and naked prisoners, and scenes of ritual combat. One wall is covered with such a multitude of mystifying symbols that it has been labeled simply 'The Complicated Theme' -- until some future archaeologist can offer a plausible explanation of them. A site museum to display material unearthed here is under construction, and when opened it will be part of this visit.

We return to Trujillo to spend the night. Overnight at Libertador Hotel located in the Main Plaza.

Chan ChanDay 3 - Trujillo to Lima - colonial Trujillo, the picturesque beach resort of Huanchaco, and the pre-Inca city of Chan Chan

In the morning we tour the historic center of Trujillo, a city whose heart still pulses with colonial splendor. We visit the immense main square and the spacious mansions built by Spanish and Creole gentry during the 17th and 18th centuries. Then we make our way through Trujillo towards the coast, arriving at the great Chimú center of Chan Chan, the largest adobe city ever built. It was in fact an elite settlement, a series of nine enormous palaces belonging to successive rulers of the Chimú realm. At its height the population here may have reached 50,000 people. Many of them were artists and craftspeople, who made the sumptuous goldwork, textiles and pottery for which the Chimú were famous. At the Tschudi palace enclosure we enter a labyrinthine series of courtyards lined with clay friezes of fish and ocean birds, and walled in places with an open meshwork adobe building style believed to represent fishing nets. We visit inner patios, residences, administrative buildings, temples, platforms and storehouses, and a huge reservoir where 'sunken gardens' may have produced specialized crops for the Chimu nobility.

We continue on to the nearby beach resort of Huanchaco, where we have a chance to try the superb seafood of Trujillo at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here fishermen still paddle out to sea, kneeling on caballitos de totora -- little one-man reed rafts which have been used for millennia to collect the abundant bounty of the Pacific ocean.

In the afternoon we drive to the airport in time for our flight to Lima.

We'll travel to the charming seaside town of nearby Huanchaco for lunch, before returning to the airport for a late afternoon flight to Lima.


Costa del Sol

Located right in the heart of the city’s financial and commercial district, just a short walk from the Plaza de Armas, the Hotel Costa del Sol Chiclayo is recognized for the quality of service offered by its staff, which enables guests to feel right at home.

Libertador Trujillo

It is located right on the Main Plaza. This is a top place to stay. A combination of colonial style with comfortable and well-equipped rooms. Good restaurant, bar and nice pool.


2 passengers 3 passengers 4+ passengers Single Supplement
US Dollar US$ 680.00 US$644.00 US$ 554.00 US$ 179.00

Rates may fluctuate in accordance with current exchange rates.


For further information and booking inquiries please contact Sacred Earth Travel.