In Túcume, 35 km (21 miles) north of Chiclayo, you can see an immense pyramid complex, including Huaca Larga, one of the largest adobe pyramids in South America, as well as dozens of smaller ones spread across a dry desert. Go first to the small museum, Museo de Sitio, and take a tour with an English-speaking guide to learn about the history of the nearby ruins. Then follow your guide and climb 10 minutes to see the 26 giant pyramids, surrounded by the smaller
ones, and the areas in between, which have yet to be excavated.
The rugged desert landscape, sprinkled with hardy little algarrobo (mesquite) trees, is probably very similar to what it looked like when—so the legend goes—a lord called Naymlap arrived in the Lambayeque Valley, and with his dozen sons founded the Lambayeque dynasty and built the pyramids we see today. Keep an eye out for burrowing owls as you make your way from the entrance toward the pyramids.
Adjacent to the archaeological site there is a lovely hotel designed from adobe and algarobbo wood, Los Horcones de Tucume (951/831–705, www.loshorconesdetucume.com), whose architect/owner seemlessly incorporated pre-Colombian designs into the walled complex. There are 12 airy guest rooms with private terraces and a small pool at the hotel. They can arrange various horse-riding trips through algarobbo forests and meetings with local curanderos, or shamans.