This journey had started in Quito and we arrived at the border of Peru at Aguas Verdes on Saturday 15th April 2006. The crossing proved to be as expected, a trial of patience. Eventually we were ready to leave. We had no transport booked and we were going to use a bus but through negotiation we were able to hire an old American Dodge car to take all six of us plus driver and luggage to our beach side hotel at Punta Sal, a distance of about 120 kms. It was very hot and we were very cramped in the car so a swim in the Pacific was very welcome when we arrived. This was a lovely small hotel with cabins directly on the beach.

We were only allowed one night and so it was off early next morning to catch two buses firstly to Piura and then to Chiclayo. This part took us eight hours so we decided to leave the bus a few kilometres from Chiclayo in order to visit the Museo de las Tumbas Reales de Sipan at Lambayeque. This museum housed a number of the magnificent treasures found at Sipan in 1987. The site at Sipan dates back to 100AD and the objects discovered give a fascinating knowledge of the Moche culture (c AD 1 to 750).

Our journey then took us up into the mountains. After the first hour we started our climb from the very flat coastal strip into the hills. We reached a height of 2130 m before descending once again. The scenery was spectacular. The road was not good and there was evidence of many landslides. The tarmac gave way to gravel and potholes early in the journey but we finally arrived at Chacapoyas in the evening.

Next day we visited Kuelap. High up in the mountains this ruins of this unique site are situated on a ridge overlooking deep valleys. The Chachapoyans were one of the most advanced pre Inca cultures. It was built between 900 and 1100 AD and parts are still in a good state of repair. The most memorable part is its position on a cloud forest ridge with many bromeliads and mosses.

One full day was not really long enough in Chachapoyas but we had to move on. Our next night was spent in Leymebamba, a delightful small town. On our way we visited a museum devoted to the 219 mummies found at a burial site twelve hours walk away from Leymebamba. It was at the museum that we were fortunate to see a young Alpaca, only six hours old.

Another very long day followed as we journeyed to Cajamarca. The road, all unmade, firstly took us up to a height of 3600 m, often in the clouds, then down to 850m as we reached Balsas on the Maranon River. Then it was up again to 2400 m before our decent to Celendin. Re fuel and then on to Cajamarca. Of the eight villages we passed through, five were in the last four hours. The journey took about twelve hours.

Cajamarca is a pleasant town with many historical sites. It was here that Inca Chief Atahualpa lost his life to Pizarro and the Spanish conquerors. An easy day around the town visiting a number of the historical sites. The following day in Cajarmarca we took a minibus up to Cumbe Mayo to look at some Petroglyphs from the Chavin culture. The pre-Inca water channels that run for 9 kms. Are said to be the oldest man-made construction in South America. It was a very pleasant area and our walk around the outcrops in the hills and the walk back to town gave us the chance to see the activities of the local people at the weekend. After our activities of the day we took the overnight bus from Cajarmarca to Trujillo on the coast. We left at 22.45 and arrived at 04.30 and in bed by 05.30!

There was to be no lying in bed however, Zoe had us in the minibus by 9.00 a.m. for our first visit of the day to the Temple of the moon. A short drive across cultivated fields brought us to the site. This remarkable place was only really excavated in the 1990’s. Until the Spanish arrived its neighbour the Temple of the Sun was the largest man-made building in the western hemisphere. The temple of the moon is , however much more interesting as it contains more than 6000 sq. m. of remarkable wall paintings. For more details of this site click here for a slideshow. The next site visited was Ciudadela of Tschudi. This was part of the largest pre Colombian adobe city in the world and dates back to the Chimu period.

Time for lunch at Huanchaco and to see the well known Reed boats still being used by local fishermen. Then it was off to visit Chan Chan, probably the most well known of the sites in Northern Peru. This is part of the original Chimu City and apart from the relief designs on the walls it is the size of the structures, which are most impressive.

After an early morning walk around the square we squeezed into a Land Rover type vehicle for our journey up into the hills. We started by travelling along the Pan American Highway for about ninety minutes before we turned off on to a dirt road. The road followed the Rio Santa through tunnels and eventually through a gorge only six metres wide. We arrived at the very pleasant town of Caraz after about eight hours. The lovely hostel was to be home for the next three nights. Wow!

Our first day trip took us up into the mountains. We drove up to Lake Paron where we walked a short distance around the lake with views of snow topped mountains rising to over 6000 m. We were at 4140 m. In the evening we celebrated Roger’s 70th Birthday with Cuy (Guinea Pig).

An early start for some of us as we went to the market to buy food for our evening meal that we were going to help prepare. Then it was off again to the mountains. On the way we stopped to view the town of Yungay, this was the town, which in 1970 was hit by a massive earthquake. Further up the valley we passed two lakes to reach the Portachualo de Llanganuco at 4767 m. Back at the hostel we helped to make Causa, a chicken, avocado and potatoes, as a starter with Papa Rellena as the main course.

Our last bus journey! We reluctantly left Caraz for Huaraz where we joined the bus for Lima.

This was the end of our Tico Tico journey together. We had travelled many kilometres mainly over very rough roads in a variety of transports. In just three weeks we had journeyed from Quito to Lima, seen many historical sights, experienced life with the local people, seen so amazing scenery but above all enjoyed the company of the group.

Ecuador Border to Lima - 2006

The group arrive at the

hotel in Punta Sal

My beach side room

My beach side room

Sun set over the Pacific

Arriving at Piura to change buses


Driving up into the hills from Chiclayo


Driving up into the hills from Chiclayo


Our group


Driving up into the hills from Chiclayo


Time to stretch our legs


Marañon River


One of the many landslides


Marañon River


Some of the roads were good and straight


Other roads were bad


Rice Fields


Rice fields


Waiting our turn to pass


A stop on our way to Kuelap


Tombs in the rock face



Notice the zig-zag roads




It was no wonder the trip to Kuelap

took three hours



The group at Kuelap


We had a delay on our return while we waited

for this lorry to be repaired

A six hour old alpaca at

Leymebamba museum

Mummies in the museum


Leymebamba Square


Travelling from Leymebamba

to Cajamarca

Travelling from Leymebamba

to Cajamarca

Travelling from Leymebamba

to Cajamarca

Travelling from Leymebamba

to Cajamarca

Travelling from Leymebamba

to Cajamarca



Crossing the Marañon River at Balsas


Marañon River


Refueling at Celendin


A view of Cajamarca






On the way to Cunbe Mayo near Cajamarca




Typical adobe house construction


Pre Inca water channels


Petroglyphs at Cumbe mayo


Using a back strap loom


Using a back strap loom


Cactus flowers on the walk

down to Cajamarca

Reed boat at Huanchaco


Reed boats at Huanchaco


Trujillo main square


Trujillo main square


The desert landscape south of Trujillo


The road as we travelled inland


In the valleys there was some agriculture


Getting into the hills


There were some fascinating rock formations


Picnic time


The gorge narrowed


Cochineal beetle feeding

on Prickly Pear cactus

What is so interesting?




The gorge narrowed to six metres


Hydro-electric scheme


Our hostel in Caraz


The road up to Lake Paron


The Cordillera Blanca


Artesonraju Mountain?


Piramidel Mountain?


Rob at Lake Paron


Chacraraju Mountain




Our group at Lake Paron


Zoe at Lake Paron with Piramide(L) and

Chacraraju(R) with the tip of Pisco

Chacraraju Mountain


Huandoy Mountain


Rob with the Cuy


The group at the start of the party


Happy Birthday Roger


Caraz market


A cattle market high up the Llanganuco Valley


Looking back as we started our climb

up the Llanganuco Pass

The glacier below Huscaran Mountain


Looking down from the

Llanganuco Pass

Rob at the Pass


The road down


Pisco Mountain?


Laka Llanganuco


The journey down to Lima from Huaraz


Historical Sites of Northern Peru



 This site is twice as old as the Incas being started in 900AD and went on for 200 years.  It was constructed by the Chachapoyan Cloud People to stop an invasion by the Wari people from Bolivia.  Kuelap, situated on a mountain ridge (3000m), is heavily fortified with high walls and extends to about a kilometre.  There are over 400 structures within the walls and possibly 3500 people lived here.  The many bromeliads give the clue to the reference to cloud forest people and water would not have been a problem although for so many people they probable had to bring some from the river in the valley.  There has been some restoration but most of the site is original.  A house has been reconstructed showing its circular design with a thatched roof.  Other structures are thought to be of a more scientific nature relating to stars, sun and points of the compass.

Kuelap can just be seen on the ridge


Walking up to Kuelap


View from the site, notice the Bromiliads


The walls of Kuelap


A main entrance gate


Our group


This shows the walls of a

circular house with a view

This shows the position of Kuelap

and the approach road

The narrow entrance viewed

from the inside

Showing the spectacular defensive

position of Kuelap

More structures


Some with geometric reliefs which possibly

represent the eyes of birds or animals

Some with geometric reliefs which possibly

represent the eyes of birds or animals

Some with geometric reliefs which possibly

represent the eyes of birds or animals

A reconstructed house






Temple of the Moon

The Temple of the Moon or Huaca de la Luna was just one large building in the ancient city of Moche.  It served as the major political and ceremonial site for the Moche society.  The Moche people date from 100AD to 800AD and were located along the northern coast of Peru.  The structure is built using adobe bricks of a uniform size.  The bricks often have marks on them to show which village made them.  The ceremonial platforms in many cases have been built on previous ones.  The mural paintings are very extensive and although repetitve in places showing their God Ai Apaec.  Some of the murals depict highly complicated scenes and are extremely well preserved.                               

First impressions


First impressions


Designs showing their

God Ai Apaec

Designs showing their

God Ai Apaec

This gives some idea

of the construction

More designs




Adobe bricks with makers signs


More designs


A view from the site showing the temple

or pyramid of the sun



Notice the designs on the steps








This was perhaps the most impresive mural


Some of the detail






Tschudi Palace near Trujillo.

This building was part of an ancient Chimu city.  It has some interesting reliefs depicted on the walls.

Reliefs on the walls at the Ciudadela

or palace of Tschudi

Reliefs on the walls at the Ciudadela

or palace of Tschudi

Reliefs on the walls at the Ciudadela

or palace of Tschudi





Chan Chan.

Chan Chan was the centre of the Chimu culture which exisisted between 800AD and 1400AD.  It is thought to be the largest pre Columbian city built from mud bricks.  They were good craftsmen and constructed networks of underground irrigation channels to bring water from the hills to reservoirs within their buildings.  The wall decorations often depict sea creatures.  The most impressive thing is the great size of the squares and walls. 

The size of everything is most impresive


Relief carving


Relief carving




Relief carving


Relief carving




Relief carving


The thickness of some of the walls


Relief carving




A reservoir