On arrival to Huanchaco, we expected a town like Mancora because of the stories we heard of it. As it turned out, this town was quit a bit bigger and the beach was definitely not as nice. Unfortunate for us, only our first day is was sunny and warm. The second day here was cloudy and it was slightly drizzling, which of course did not help us to fall in love with this beach town.
As we had taken a night bus from Mancora, we arrived early and after checking in to our lovely French owned hostel, we went to see the nearby pre-inca ruins. We read its possible visiting them with an organised tour, but living on the budget and doing some research, we choose to visit the sites by ourselves.
Ruins of Chan Chan
Site number one, close to Huanchaco and easy to reach with a combi or local bus. These combi’s you find everywhere in South America, which are minivans with most of the times a set route, cheap prices but small and with our european length not always comfortable seating.
Chan Chan (meaning Sun Sun) was the capital of the empire Chimor. It was named for its sunny climate which is cooled year round by a southerly breeze. It is believed that this site was built around 850 AD and defeated by the Incas around 1470 AD and is nowadays a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Due to the lack of rain in this area at its prime, the major source of water for Chan Chan was in the form of rivers carrying surface runoff from the Andes. Unfortunately due to climate changes, causing erosion, most of the site today is effected and the centre part is covered with a roof for protection and preservation.
Temple of the Sun and the Moon (Huaca del Sol y Huaca de La Luna)
The second ruins we planned to visit were more challenging to reach. First we took the bus from the museum next to Chan Chan. This bus dropped us off at a roundabout in the nearby busy town of Trujillo. The bus boy told us this would be the place to hop on a combi to get the temples. After waiting for 10 minutes we started asking around and although probably with the best intentions, everybody was telling us a different story. Than a lovely lady approached us if we needed any help. She spoke a decent level of Englisch and told us we were on the wrong side of the roundabout. Not long after waiting at the right location, the combi we needed arrived and off we were.
Arriving to the temples, to us, this site was less impressive than Chan Chan but also quite less preserved. Huaca del Sol is (not yet) open for visitors but we could visit Huaca de la Luna and got a “free”, tip based, guided English speaking tour. Learning about the history of this place was interesting as this site belonged to the Moche people, who supposed to have lived from about 100 to 700 AD. The two temples used to be massive pyramids unfortunately erosion seriously damaged them. Each dynasty ordered to build a new layer on top of the temple, filling the old one completely with bricks. What made these temples hughe! Luckily one side of the temples was covered by sand for years which had protected if from erosion. Excavation work completely funded by North American and European institutes only, makes it possible today to give an impression on the serious size these temples must have been in their prime.
Returning from the temples to our hostel went luckily a bit smoother and our day ended with a cold drink watching a beautifully colored sunset. The next day we had planned a beach and surf day. Unfortunately the weather was cold and the waves were low, so thanks to Netflix we did spent the day quite nice 🙂
Next stop: Huaraz