Speeding our way through Peru's desert coast

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May 21st 2014
Published: May 21st 2014
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Our past week has involved lots of travelling and lots of whistle-stop sightseeing. We have been to Lima, Trujillo and are now in our last Peruvian destination, Mancora. Having covered about 500 miles on bus journeys that have lasted between 10 and 12 hours each we can safely say this has been one of the less exciting parts of our trip. Had the stops in between been more interesting the travelling may not have seemed so bad but sadly Lima, Trujillo and Mancora aren’t really ‘must-see’ destinations.


Our experience in Lima was marred somewhat by having nearly half of all our clothes ruined when the local launderette spilt bleach on them. At the time this was very frustrating but looking back I guess it’s not that bad; we’ve been on the road for nearly 6 months and our clothes have survived this far. The launderette were very good and compensated us to the tune of nearly $50 which was enough for Helen, who lost the most clothes in the debacle, to buy a few new tops and she also inherited a nice alpaca jumper that the owner gave her out of lost and found.

I suppose that it’s not really fair to judge a place on one bad experience but the truth is Lima is much like most cities, big, busy, congested and expensive and neither of us really felt that enamoured by it. We did however enjoy a few nice meals in the city and even had some great sushi which we bought from the very swish Wong’s supermarket. We also did a short ‘free’ walking tour (tips are expected & requested) which took us through the downtown area where we got to see several churches and the changing of the guards outside the main government palace.


To break up our journey north we decided to stay in Trujillo to see the ruins at Chan Chan. Trujillo is quite similar to many of the colonial cities we have visited on our trip, although maybe a little bit more middle class. As is a common thread, you guessed it, we enjoyed some good food here including traditional Peruvian cuisine, namely pork chicarron and papa rellena (a fried potato pasty).

The ruins of Chan Chan, just a ten minute bus ride north of Trujillo, are certainly worth a look and are famed for being ‘the America’s largest pre-Columbian city’. The capital of the Chimu people, Chan Chan was built around AD 1300 and at its height was home to an estimated 6,000 people. Much of the city is being excavated but there is still plenty to see, including various burial chambers and lots of glyphics of various sea creatures including birds, sea otters and fish. Set on the coast the city is surrounded by huge 10 metre high walls which are in various stages of decay; over the years they have been battered by wind and sand and now match the same colour as the desert they are built in. From a distance the walls look quite curious rising out of the yellow sand. It appears that the Chimu co-existed with the Incas but like most indigenous peoples in the America’s they soon disappeared after the Spanish arrival in 1471.


Billed as Peru’s best beach, Mancora is very much a resort town. Tacky merchandise, over-priced restaurants and annoying touts make up the town’s main stretch but once you get past that you can find some nicer, cosier eateries and the beach is nice. The sea here is built for surfers and a bit rough just for a swim but we found a perfect little chalet set just off the beach where we managed to make home for a few days. Lazy days have been interspersed with Spanish practice and making preparations for our trip to Quito where we will catch our flight to Bogota. It looks like we’re heading for a few more long bus journey’s before we make it to Ecuador’s capital but knowing that we’ll soon be in Columbia is good motivation.


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