The city of Chiclayo in northern Peru is the jumping-off point for trips to some of the greatest pre-Inca sites in the country. From treasure-filled tombs and vast ancient cities to huge adobe pyramids, here are just a few of the archaeological highlights of the region.
The Huaca Rajada site only came to public attention in 1987 when archaeologist Walter Alva became aware of rumors of local thieves looting precious objects from the area. Excavations of the pyramids, which until then had been obscured by earthen mounds, led to the discovery of the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, a Moche leader found buried with a hoard of treasure. This discovery propelled the site to international fame. Many of the tombs have now been restored with replicas of the objects found there to show how they would have appeared before being sealed up by the Moche people some 1,500 years ago.
Situated about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Chiclayo, this vast archaeological site is peppered with the ruins of more than 20 sand-carved pyramids, most of which were built by the Sicán people, who succeeded the Moche culture. One of the best views of the expansive site is from the Purgatory Hill (Cerro Purgatorio) lookout.
Set northeast of Chiclayo, the pre-Inca temples of Batán Grande stand amid the National Sanctuary of the Pomac Forest (Santuario Histórico Bosque de Pómac), one of the largest dry tropical forests in the world. The site was originally inhabited by the Sicán people but was abandoned in the 12th century in favor of Túcume.