Northern Peru – a voyage quite different
Many people taking their first trip to Peru focus on a mixture of Cuzco, Machu Picchu and the Andes, hitting such favourites as Cruz del Condor, the Nasca lines and Lake Titikaka.
However, those willing to venture a few hours to the North will find very special historic sites and spectacular natural beauty. Huaraz, an short flight from Lima, gives access to La Cordillera Blanca and the Huayhuash mountain ranges, providing for stunning trekking grounds, outdoor activities and two comfortable mountain lodges, the Lazy Dog Inn and Llanganuco lodge.
The coastal towns of Trujillo and Chiclayo are an exciting and adventurous overland trip from Huaraz, through the Cañon del Pato, a route carved into the mountains with otherworldly scenery. As well as having some colourful colonial architecture, Trujillo is the centre of a concentration of ruins and home to an excellent modern art gallery in Trujillo. And of course, very nearby, the beautiful site of Chan Chan.
At this stage the more adventurous travellers would be tempted to head overland to Chachapoyas, either direct from Chiclayo or via Cajamarca. The journey is relatively long but the reward is ample; rugged, dwindling cloud forest covering sweeping valleys and hilltops that are dotted with ruins from the Chachapoyas culture.
From Chachapoyas it is even possible to head to the jungle at Tarapoto and Iquitos. The Pacaya Samiria National reserve is one of the best places in the country to see wildlife, and visitors can venture even deeper into the Amazon to Iquitos for a luxury Amazon cruise with Delfin or Aqua before heading back to Lima.
Those seeking a rather more tranquil finale to the northern circuit would be more inclined to head from Chiclayo to the northern beaches near Piura and Tumbes. Mancora is the destination of choice with stretching golden sands and a good selection of accommodation, our particular favourite at the moment is the DCO suites. Another option closer to Chiclayo is the Chicama Surf Resort, where surfers and family groups alike will find themselves quite at home.
A trip to Peru would be definitely enriched by a trip up North and a stay for a few nights at any of these properties.