The Pearl of the North
Chiclayo, the capital of the Lambayeque region in northern Peru, is known by many names. Some call it The Pearl of the North, others the Heroic City in recognition of its fight for independence and some even refer to it as the capital of Friendship. Whatever the name, it is clear that if you are visiting Peru it should be on your must-see list.
Renowned for the archeology of the Moche culture, the Lord of Sipan’s tomb (also known as King Tutankhamun of the Americas) is one of the most significant discoveries in Peru’s history. The amount of valuables buried with the Lord of Sipán rival the treasure found in the young Egyptian Pharaoh tomb putting Chiclayo permanently on the tourist map. Once in Chiclayo, you can visit the tomb site at Huaca Rajada as well as admire the valuables and treasures on display in the Hans Heinrich Bruning Museum and the Royal Tombs of the Sipán Museum. The Moche culture began between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. and expanded in many northern Peru coastal regions. They developed a knowledge of hydraulic engineering and constructed canals to support their farming and agricultural lifestyle. They are considered the producers of the best ceramic artifacts with elaborate pottery designs portraying images of humans, animals, religious themes, ceremonies and more.
Chiclayo is also situated near Tucume and the Valley of the Pyramids. Here you will find 26 pyramids of varying sizes. Atop the hill overlooking Tucume, you will be able to appreciate the size and scale of the complex. The most prominent of all the pyramids is the centrally located Huaca Larga which extends over 2,000 feet in length and is one of the largest adobe structures in the world. 119 sacrificed bodies were found in the burial chambers underneath the pyramid. Huaca Las Balsas is a partially excavated pyramid most famous for its ocean-themed murals; images of waves, sea creatures and birds can be found on the walls.
For visitors looking for something a little different, you will enjoy the laid back atmosphere of nearby Pimental, a popular beach resort. During the summer, tourists, locals and even a few pelicans enjoy the sun and the waves. From here you can see on the water the “caballitos de totora”, typical boats made of reeds.
Nature lovers will also enjoy the sanctuary of the protected Pomac Forest with dense formations of carob trees. It was created to preserve over 36 pre-Inca pyramids built by the Sican as well as the natural surrounding habitat. Bird watchers will enjoy the 70 bird species as well as seven mammal and nine reptile species that live in this forest.
The Modelo Market is worth a visit. It is approximately five blocks in length selling everything you can imagine. If you are looking for something to eat, drink, wear or take back home, you will find it here. It is also well known for its amazing range of herbs, lotions, and potions favored by shamans.
From history to shopping, hiking to surfing, Chiclayo seems to have it all and more. If you have the time to wander off the beaten track to visit this pearl you will soon understand that no tour of Peru is complete without it.