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Trujillo | Gateway to Chan Chan and the Temple of the Moon
Trujillo is Peru’s third largest populous city and lies on the North Western coast of the country. Its said to be rich in culture and the ancient archeological sites of Chan Chan and the Temple of the Moon which lie just outside the city are testament to that. Below we will help you explore Trujillo and the surrounding areas and give you an idea on how to navigate this city and its history.
How did we get to Trujillo?
We arrived at Trujillo from Chiclayo and used the Cruz del Sur bus service. The journey takes about five hours and costs approx 30 to 40 PEN depending on which seat you choose and how comfortable you want your journey to be. We opted for the downstairs seats as they are more comfortable and recline more. Even though we were travelling in the daytime it was nice to be comfortable and have the added benefit of a USB port. The journey follows the Pan American Highway down the coast. The bus station in Trujillo was not far from the hostel we had booked so we walked but there are many taxi’s flying about if you need transportation to your hostel.
Where did we stay in Trujillo?
The hostel we chose was Yaqta Hostel as we wanted a more traditional hostel that was fairly central and cheap and this one didn’t disappoint. It was one block away from the main square Plaza de Armas and really close to the main restaurants and bars of the city. The hostel was basic but the room had everything we needed. A comfy bed, hot water and good wifi. There is a roof terrace at the hostel which seemed to be a good meeting place to meet other travellers but we didn’t really have time to venture up there and check it out. The two chaps that ran the hostel were really helpful in answering any questions about the region and how to get to certain places. All in all it was a good experience.
What did we do in Trujillo?
Explore the city and the main square Plaza de Armas
Trujillo has a beautiful main square in Plaza de Armas. It is the central point of the town and where all the locals congregate especially at the weekends to chill and have fun. The buildings surrounding the square are the Cathedral and the Municipal buildings and palace and in the centre is the freedom monument to represent the city’s independence in 1820. Near the square you will find some great restaurants and coffee shops as well as artisan products. The city’s open top bus tours also have an office here.
Visit the Chan Chan Archeological site & museum
Chan Chan was the largest pre-Colombian city in South America and is now a vast archeological site just north of the city of Trujillo. It was the seat of the ancient Chimú civilization before it fell to the Incas. The site has the uncovered remains of a palace complex, plazas, temples and tombs. There are several ways of getting there with the easiest being either by taxi or bus. We chose the bus. From Trujillo, you can catch the local bus to Huanchaco, which stops at Chan Chan and should cost about 2.50 PEN You could also get a taxi or book a tour which would cost considerably more. If you chose the bus option then tell the driver/conductor that you’re going to Chan Chan and it will drop you off on the roadside at the main entrance to the Chan Chan site. Once at the main road you then have a ten min walk up the driveway to the entrance. The fee to enter is 10 PEN per adult and this also gets you access to three other sites including the Museum and at time of writing the museum was the only other site that was open, the other two were closed permanently.
The main Chan Chan site is amazing and like most archeological sites there is the opportunity to hire a guide to take you through but we found it ok to just wander around the site ourselves. There was a clearly marked path to follow with pictures of fishes on wooden sticks. At the main entrance there is a couple of shops where you can buy drinks and souvenirs and there are toilets. The museum is about 500 mtrs away along the main road back to town and its quite a pleasant walk. The museum holds a variety of artefacts from the site and a large recontstruction of how the site would have looked when populated.
Explore the Temple of the Sun & Moon archeological site
The temples collectively known as the Temples of Moche lie a few kms south of the city and are well worth a visit. To get there you have to take a van on Avenida de Los Incas, Tupac Yunpanqui Street or at Ovalo Grau. There are 2 types: a blue one and a brown one. When you stop them, just ask: ‘Huaca de la luna?’ and they’ll either say yes or no. The fare is approx 3 PEN and the journey is about thirty minutes, depending on traffic. The bus drops you off a the museum entrance where you need to go and buy your ticket. You can visit the museum first but we left that till last and headed over to the archeological site first. There you’re invited to join the next tour in your language and the best thing is the tours are for free with the expectation of a small tip for the guide. While we waited on our tour we had some lunch at the cafe and wandered round the artisan souvenir stalls.
The tour itself was amazing. Our guide was really knowledgable and passionate about the site. He explained the wonderful colourful freezes on the walls of different parts of the complex. How the Moche people lived and worshiped and changed through the ages. We only visited the Temple of the Moon as the Temple of the Sun wasn’t open at the moment which was sad but it was a really good experience and we really enjoyed our visit.
Visit the local fishing village of Huanchaco
The local coastal village of Hunchaco is a great place to visit after trailing round the archeological sites. As its by the sea and being by the sea makes anyone feel good, right? We took the local bus here and it cost 2.50 PEN each way and the journey was around thirty mins. The bus drops you off at the seafront and picks you up there again so its really easy to get there and get back. The great thing about this resort is that it has a sandy beach, it has some great seafood restaurants and it has the local fishermen and their unique straw boats. Huanchaco fishermen still use caballitos, small thin boats made from the totora reeds that grow in the marshy area at the north end of the town. We even saw a man repairing one with more reeds which was really cool to see. If you do visit then don’t leave without a taste of the Picarones on the sea front. A lovely lady and her daughter have a stall and they are delicious. Fried donuts drizzled in syrup, yum!
The town of Trujillo is very much worth visiting if you have an interest in the archeological sites. There are many public transport options to get you to all parts of the city that you can use or there is the open topped tour bus if that’s your thing. With regards to beaches and coastal areas I think there are better places north of Peru but we only sampled one so could be wrong. If you do visit the city then my restaurant recommendation is Al Dente, an Italian restaurant just north of the main square where the Cathedral sits. Enjoy your visit.
Booking resources for your stay in Trujillo
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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Tipon & Pikillaqta are two archeological sites that are located in Cusco’s less visited southern valley. Tipon is a large Incan site believed to be from the early fifteenth century, while Pikillaqta was built by the Wari culture that predates the Incans.