63 Best Sights in The North Coast and Northern Highlands, Peru

Tumba del Señor de Sipán

The road to this archaeological site, which was excavated by renowned archaeologist Walter Alva in 1987 and which is not far from the town of Sipán, winds past sugar plantations and through a fertile valley. You'll soon reach a fissured hill—all that remains of a temple called the Huaca Rajada. The three major tombs found here date from about AD 290 and earlier and form one of the most complete archaeological finds in the Western Hemisphere. The tombs have been attributed to the Moche culture, known for its ornamental pottery and fine metalwork. The most extravagant funerary objects were found in the tomb, which is now filled with replicas placed exactly where the originals—currently on permanent display in the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán in Lambayeque—were discovered. The Lord of Sipán did not make the journey to the next world alone—he was buried with at least seven people: a warrior (whose feet were amputated to ensure that he didn't run away), three young women, two assistants, and a child. The tomb also contained a dog and two llamas. Hundreds of ceramic pots contained snacks for the long trip. Archaeological work here is ongoing, but you can see some of the excavated objects in the on-site museum.

Sipán, Peru
978-977–622
Sights Details
Rate Includes: S/10, S/20 for a guide (strongly recommended)

Ventanillas de Otuzco

One of the oldest cemeteries in Peru, the Ventanillas de Otuzco date back more than 3,500 years. The ancient necropolis, 8 km (5 miles) northeast of Cajamarca, comprises several large burial niches carved into a cliff. From afar, the niches look like windows: hence the area's name. On closer inspection, you see that many of the burial niches have carved decorations. Sadly, the site is gradually being eroded by wind and rain, though measures are being taken to slow the degradation. If you're inspired by this cemetery, you can go about 30 km (18 miles) from Combayo, in the same direction, and visit the better-preserved Ventanillas de Combayo. A three-hour guided tour to Ventanillas de Otuzco costs around S/35. If you prefer to go by yourself, combis (small buses) take 30 minutes to arrive from the Plaza de Armas.

Cajamarca, Peru
Sights Details
Rate Includes: S/5

Wilcahuaín

Some 8 km (5 miles) north of Huaraz, this small archaeological site contains a Wari temple, dating from AD 1100, that resembles the larger temple at Chavín de Huántar. Each story of the crumbling three-tiered temple has seven rooms. There's are also a small museum, basic bathroom facilities, and a limited restaurant. Trained and knowledgeable local students will be your guide for a small tip (suggested minimum: S/10).

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