Planning Your Time

Exploring Ancient Civilizations

If seeing the important archaeological sites and museums is your main priority, start your journey in Trujillo with the important Moche pyramids of the Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, as well as Chan Chan, built by the Chimú people (though be sure to take at least a day to walk around and enjoy the spectacular colonial architecture). From here, head north to Chiclayo and peer into the Tomb of Sipán, check out the pyramids at Túcume, and explore world-class historical museums. If you can extend your trip beyond a week, preferably another four to five days, take the bus from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas and visit Kuélap, which rivals Machu Picchu in magnificence and was built more than a thousand years before.

Exploring the Outdoors

If you want to see the spectacular mountains of the Northern Highlands, head up (and up and up) to the mountain town of Huaraz. Drink lots of water, and allow a day or so to acclimatize to the altitude, taking in the local sights and hot springs. From there, make a three-day trek around the Cordillera Blanca. If you can extend your trip past a week, head to Trujillo to enjoy the architecture and ruins.

Rest and Relaxation

If you want to take a week to relax, fly from Lima to Piura, walk around the city, eat in one of the excellent restaurants, and sleep in one of the first-rate hotels. After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel (almost always included in the price of your room), head to Máncora or Punta Sal for a few days. Regardless of where you stay, you'll be able to lie back on the beach or poolside, and—if you're inspired to get out of your beach chair—go on a fishing trip, learn to surf, or try the even more adventurous kitesurfing.

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Fodor's Essential Peru: with Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail

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