Exploring Pre Inca Ruins In Trujillo

Our decision process for Trujillo was little more than asking a few people in Colan what they thought of it – we’d just picked it because it seemed like a convenient location. Luckily, everyone recommended it.

Trujillo, despite having a few excellent sights, is far from a tourist hotspot, and even finding a taxi driver who understood our Spanish or even wanted to drive us to our first stop – Chan Chan. But we did eventually find one.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chan Chan is a pre Inca city and apparently the largest adobe structure in the world, even though the current ruin is only a fraction of the original structure – most is still being excavated, but what has been restored is stunning.

We were dropped at the end of a long road in a deserted car park with a visitor centre closed for renovation. It wasn’t looking good but it was still open, one tiny window selling tickets.

The city was almost deserted of tourists as we made our way inside into a vast courtyard guarded by two statues. Following the route around the complex we soon discovered passageways and remains of walls which presumably used to divide rooms – the details on these were amazing.


The lattice style walls coupled with the mixture of almost pixel art and animal carvings were like nothing we’d seen before.



Eventually the shaded passageways turned into more vast squares, one of which was described as an oasis – it was not hard to see why. It was the water source for the city when it was inhabited.


When we left, the car park was utterly deserted, save for an ice cream vendor, so we had little choice but to walk down a dusty road for a mile to the main road with ice lollies in hand. Luckily within a few minutes of standing on the main road a bus stopped for us and took us into town.


Next we wanted to go to Huaca de la Luna y Del Sol, a few kilometres the other side of town. It should have been easy but we waited and waited and could not find the right combi.

After half hour of watching drivers go past us stating a different destination, and asking the ones who did stop, we finally got lucky and found one who understood us and was going roughly the right way. I say roughly as we were dropped on a busy main road 5+km from the site.

We got lucky though and flagged down a taxi coming from roughly the direction of the pyramids. He knew where they were though it seemed like the first time he had taken tourists there as he couldn’t find the ticket booth.

We were dropped near a modern museum which we looked around as it was included in the ticket price, it had a decent selection of artefacts and information about the Moche era pyramids we were about to see.


From the museum to the pyramids was another 10 minute walk in the heat, and straight away we started making our way towards the pyramid before being bellowed at by staff – it is guided tours only, whoops!

So we had to wait a little while and look at a hairless dog until enough people showed up.


The tour was in Spanish only, however for the benefit of us gringos the friendly tour guide spoke extremely slowly, meaning we could understand 90% of what she was saying – after 4 months in Latin America our knowledge was fairly good, but understanding it at the incredible speed locals speak is another matter!

We also discovered that only one pyramid was actually able to be visited – the one we were at, Huaca de la Luna. The other (Huaca del Sol) had barely been excavated.

We were taken up a ramp ‘into’ the pyramid and then inside a covered section where we viewed the first of many stunning murals. Stunning because of the amazing condition they were in – the colours had been preserved beautifully.



Everything was under cover to protect it from the elements, with suspended platforms allowing us to get high up inside the pyramid, as well as giving us a fantastic view back to Trujillo and the ruined Huaca del Sol.


The crowing glory was an amazing stepped section of the former outside of the pyramid, again complete with murals retaining their colour despite being several thousand years old, though they weren’t in quite as great condition as those inside.


After the hour long tour it was time to make our way back to the city, luckily this was a lot easier this time around as a combi arrived and took us back to more or less the city centre.

With only a few hours of the day left we wandered around the colonial centre which was as impressive and well preserved as any other in South America, though it was compact – outside of a few central blocks the city was not quite so attractive.



Our time in Trujillo was brief but was well worth visiting to see Chan Chan and Huaca de la Luna.

Practical Info

Getting to Trujillo from Piura took 7 hours and was a simple enough journey, costing us S/.45 each. Moving on to Lima took 8 and a half hours and cost S/.60 each. I really don’t remember much about the bus station, but I believe we bought tickets to leave as soon as we arrived, a practice we often did in South America due to the distance of bus stations from city centres.

We stayed at B&B Orrego which gave us a perfectly functional double room for S/.70 per night. We even had a separate living room and balcony! Breakfast was basic but passable. The area wasn’t the most happening, and was a good walk from the centre, so we mostly used the very reasonably priced taxis.

As far as I can recall, entry to Chan Chan was around S/.10 each, and to Huaca de la Luna S./15 each.


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