Hidden Peru

Peru

Culture | Archaeology

Discover the nature, history & charms of little-seen northern Peru

13 days £2,095 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Get to know the real Peru as you step away from the tourist trail and head north. Start by discovering Peru's colonial and pre-colonial history at Lima's excellent museums and take a culinary tour of this gastronomy hotspot. Head to Chachapoyas and marvel at the sheer majesty of the Gocta Waterfall, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, before seeking out the ancient sarcophagi of Karajía. Explore the little visited ruins of Kuélap, deep in the jungle. Take in the lavish Royal Tombs in Chiclayo and experience the awe-inspiring Sun and Moon Temples and archaeological site of Chan Chan in Trujillo.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lima's beautiful coasts and parks
  • Vibrant street art of Barranco
  • Gocta, one of the world's tallest waterfalls
  • Pre-Inca sarcophagi of Karajía
  • Fascinating ruins of Kuélap
  • Lady of Cao in Chiclayo

Places Visited

Lima - Chachapoyas - Gocta Waterfall - Kuélap - Chiclayo - Trujillo - Chan Chan

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

On arrival into Lima, you will be met at the airport by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Lima. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Lima: Historical sites and city tour

After breakfast you will embark on a city tour of Lima, including visits to Plaza Mayor, Lima Cathedral, Casa de Aliaga and the Larco Museum. Finish the tour at the 'Love Park' in the upmarket coastal district of Miraflores. Enjoy lunch with a view at Mangos Larcomar, which serves innovative Peruvian and international cuisine (buffet style). Overnight in Lima. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Lima, Peru's capital, is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, and is one of the most arid cities in the world.  Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is a city with a variety of architectural styles. Also known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas, Lima has a mixture of Spanish, Andean and Asian cuisines.

The San Francisco Convent, also known as the Convento de San Francisco, was built in the 17th-century. As well as being an active convent, the church contains catacombs and a world renowned library. The convent, in the Historic Centre of Lima, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. 

Larco Museum is a museum of pre-Columbian art located in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima, located in an 18th century building built over a pre-Columbian pyramid. It is specifically renowned for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery, and also provides an overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian history through ceramics, jewellery, and garments. The museum first opened to the public in 1926 and was founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle.

Casa de Aliaga is a house that once belonged to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of the followers of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzaro, the founder of Lima. Given to de Aliaga in 1535, the interior of the house contains vintage tiles and furniture, and has been home to the Aliaga family for 17 generations.

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Day 3 : Lima: Culinary tour and Barranco district

In the morning, take a half-day culinary tour of Lima, known for its vibrant gastronomy scene. On this tour, you will have the chance to try juices prepared with Peruvian fruits and visit Surquillo Market, one of Lima's traditional marketplaces. Afterwards, head to Pucllana Temple to tour the archaeological complex. Your next stop is a cooking class, at which you will learn how to prepare traditional Peruvian dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado (sautéed sirloin) and the classic cocktail, Pisco Sour.

After a lunch of traditional Peruvian fayre, you will visit Barranco, the most colourful and artistic neighbourhood in Lima. Stroll the streets and admire the colonial houses and craft shops then visit the Mate Museum. Finally, enjoy a hot drink in a local café then transfer back to your hotel. Overnight in Lima. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Barranco is a colourful town situated on a scenic cliff on the coast, well-known for its thriving artistic district. The district contains the most concentrated collection of street art and murals in the whole of Lima, which lends itself to Barranco’s reputation as a romantic and bohemian location.

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Day 4 : Lima - Chachapoyas

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Jaen. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to Chachapoyas and check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Chachapoyas. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Chachapoyas is the capital of the Amazonas Region located in northern Peru. Situated far from the coastline, several cities of this name were founded and abandoned by Spanish conquistadors until the current location was chosen in 1545. Slightly isolated from the rest of Peru, Chachapoyas is surrounded by vast swaths of cloud forest which was was once the home of the Chachapoya 'People of the Clouds', before Inca conquest.

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Day 5 : Gocta Waterfall

Today, you will hike to Cocachimba, a paradise in the middle of the jungle that houses many waterfalls, including Gocta Waterfall, one of the highest in the world. The trek is roughly 5 km long and take on average 2.5 hours. Walk along a beautiful route lined with lush vegetation and look out for wildlife hiding in the trees. The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore at your own pace or relax after the morning's exertions. Overnight in Chachapoyas. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Gocta Waterfall is a 771 metre high two-basin waterfall located in the district of Valera, in the upper Amazon basin. Well-known to locals, the waterfall was discovered for the first time by a foreigner in 2005, a German explorer named Stefan Ziemendorff. It is currently considered one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.

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Day 6 : Karajía and Quiocta Caverns

In the morning you will be transferred to Cruzpata where you will see the sarcophagi of Karajía. After lunch, you will visit the Quiocta Caverns, before returning to the hotel. Overnight in Chachapoyas. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Karajía is an archaeological site in the Utcumba Valley, known for the sarcophagi lining its cliffs. These stone, clay, and wood-based anthropomorphic sarcophagi are remnants of the Chachapoya peoples’ pre-Inca burial system for their nobility, dated from the 15th century. Discovered in 1985 by archaeologist Federico Kauffmann, the sarcophagi are found high along the cliffside, and stand roughly 2.5 metres tall with painted faces and large, exaggerated heads, with skulls atop them. Of the original eight sarcophagi, six remain after severe earthquake damage.

Quiocta Caverns are a naturally occurring inter-connected cavern system, consisting of six caverns. Located deep in the Andes Mountains near the small town of Lamud, the caverns contain limestone formations and stalagmite rock structures, as well as human remains from ancient burial practices.​

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Day 7 : Kuélap

Today you will have a full day at the imposing fortress of Kuélap, reaching the complex via a 20-minute scenic cable car ride. Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant. In the afternoon you will be transferred back to your hotel. Overnight in Chachapoyas. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Kuélap is a walled mountaintop settlement located in the southern sector of the Amazonas region. Considered the largest stone ruin site in the New World, it was originally built by the Chachapoya people in 500 AD, and was in use until roughly the 1500s. Discovered in 1843, the ruins contain an outer wall of 18.5 metres, with a length of 584 metres. The large limestone blocks that comprise the wall exhibit intricate carvings with geometric and anthropomorphic designs. The site also contains terraces, tombs, and outlying settlements.

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Day 8 : Chachapoyas - Chiclayo

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Chiclayo. Upon arrival, you will check-in to your hotel and have the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Chiclayo. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Chiclayo is a city in the Lambayeque region of northern Peru. The fourth-largest city of Peru, it was founded by Spanish missionaries in the 16th century and remains an important trade hub for the region as a point between the jungle, coastal, and highland trade routes.

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Day 9 : Chiclayo: Túcume and Royal Tombs

Today's tour will begin at Túcume Archaeological Complex, where you will spend time visiting the site and its fascinating museum. Enjoy the views from Cerro Purgatorio before heading towards Lambayeque to visit the Museo Tumbas Reales (Royal Tombs Museum). Pay a visit to local craft villages to see fine examples of handmade Peruvian arts and crafts, then have lunch in a local restaurant. 

Next, visit Huaca Rajada Archaeological Complex, including the recently discovered tomb of the Lord of Sipán, and its museum. Return to Chiclayo and overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Túcume Pyramids comprise a site in southern Peru, covering an area of 540 acres that includes 26 pyramids. The site was originally built by the Lambayeque peoples in 1000 AD, taken over by the Chimu peoples in 1375, and ultimately absorbed into the Incan Empire in 1470. The pyramids themselves contain tombs, elaborately carved friezes, and various burial goods. The site is known as “Purgatory” to the local people, for its religious connotations in local shamanic rites, where the site is invoked for the gods believed to dwell there.

Museo Tumbas Reales is a three-level archaeological museum established in 2003 in the city of Lambayeque. The style of the museum was inspired by the truncated pyramid architecture of the Moche culture. Founded in 1987 by Peruvian archaeologists, it was designed to recreate and display the tomb of the of the Lord of Sipan, an ancient Moche ruler, as well as other tombs found at Huaca Rajada and the many goods found therein, including 400 pieces of jewellery, gold, garments, and ceramic works.

Huaca Rajada Archaeological Complex is an archaeological site located on the northern coast of Peru. Discovered in 1987, it was built by the pre-Inca Moche people as a monument. The site consists of two small pyramids and a platform, two of which were built by the Moche in 300 AD, except the second pyramid, which was constructed in 700 AD by another culture. Tombs have been found on the site, including the well-known Lord of Sipan, a Moche mummy, his attendants, and relatives. The name of the site means “split monument”, drawing from the large cut through the site resulting from road-building.

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Day 10 : Chiclayo - El Brujo Archaeological Complex - Trujillo

Your tour begins in the town of Magdalena de Cao in Chiclayo to visit El Brujo Archaeological Complex and its museum. After lunch at a restaurant serving traditional dishes from northern Peru, transfer to Trujillo and check in to your hotel. Overnight in Trujillo.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

El Brujo Archaeological Complex is an ancient monument mainly built by the Moche people as a religious site between the 1st and 5th centuries, though occupation of the site can be traced back to pre-ceramic times. Located northwest of the Chicama Valley in Ascope province, the complex is constructed of elaborately decorated bricks. Within the complex lie two pyramids, including the Cao Viejo, within which was discovered the Lady of Cao, a mummy of Moche origin and high rank, and the most well-known Peruvian mummy. Alongside the ruins, a museum has also been built.

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Day 11 : Trujillo: city tour

Today you will take a half-day city tour in Trujillo. Begin at the central Plazuela el Recreo square and continue to the Wall of Trujillo and the churches of El Carmen, Santa Clara and San Francisco. Visit the city centre, known for its characteristic colonial and colorful constructions. See the main square and cathedral, then visit Casa Urquiaga, which exhibits pre-Inca, colonial and Republican collections. Visit Casa de la Emancipación, where the independence of Peru was first declared, and the Itúrregui Palace, a 19th century building considered a National Heritage Monument. After this, you will be transferred to the Museum of Archeology to learn about the history of the northern Peru coast. Finally, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Trujillo is the capital city of La Libertad Region and the third largest city in Peru, located in northwestern Peru. Founded in 1534 by Diego Almagro and raised to city status by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, the city is the second oldest in all of Peru. It is well-known for retaining its colonial architecture.

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Day 12 : Sun and Moon Temples, Chan Chan & Huanchaco

Your tour today starts at Huacas del Sol y de la Luna (Sun and Moon Temples) archaeological complex. Visit the handicraft workshop of a traditional Moche family then transfer to your hotel for a short rest. Next, visit the Huaca Dragón (Dragon Temple), also known as the Rainbow Temple, in northern Trujillo. 

After lunch at a local restaurant, head to the Chan Chan archaeological complex, the most important city of the Chimú culture. Finally, visit the traditional fishing cove of Huanchaco and see how the locals maintain their traditional way of life. Transfer back to the hotel and overnight in Trujillo.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Huacas del Sol y de la Luna are temples located in Trujillo, constructed by the Moche peoples. Both structures are constructed of bricks formed from adobe, a material made from mud and other organics. Together, the temples are known as the Huacas de Moche, after their constructors. The Huaca del Sol is the largest pre-Columbian structure in the country, estimated to have been constructed out of roughly 140 million bricks, though a significant portion of it has been damaged over time since its construction in 500 C.E. Graves found within the structure suggest it had religious and ceremonial significance. The Huaca de la Luna is the smaller of the two, and was built over six centuries in two main phases, in 600 and 900 C.E respectively. Numerous intricately decorated and painted friezes have been found on this site while still well-preserved, depicting anthropomorphic friezes representing various spirits.

Chan Chan is an archaeological site in Trujillo. It was once the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. Built in 850 AD by the Chimú, the city would have housed over 60,000 people along with gold, silver and ceramics. Today much of the site has been eroded by flooding and rainfall, but royal burial chambers and intricate designs can still be found. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986.

Huanchaco is a beachside town located in the city of Trujillo, and contains the most visited beach in that area. Founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistadors, it was the main port for Trujillo for over three hundred years. Presently, it is well-known as a surfing locale, and for its proximity to both the city and the nearby historical and archaeological sites.

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Day 13 : Departure

At a suitable time, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lima (and from there any onward connections as required). 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

Along the Inca Trail (4 days)

Trek the ancient trail to Machu Picchu

Classic Peru (16 days)

Spanish colonial towns, Inca ruins & floating islands

Hidden Peru (13 days)

Discover the nature, history & charms of little-seen northern Peru