I headed north to Trujillo from Lima specifically to visit the pre-Incan ruins surrounding the city. Dating from AD 1470 (Chan Chan) to around AD 500 (Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo), the ruins are remnants of the Chimu and Moche tribes. Each of the sites has an accompanying museum which explores the culture and traditions of the respective tribe and the museums of Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo contain impressive pottery that look like they easily could have been removed from the kiln last week!
Chan Chan covers 20 square kilometers of the area just outside Trujillo and is the largest pre-Columbian site in South America. It is easily accessible via a 20-minute combi (small bus) ride. Hop on any bus that is going to Huanchaco, the beach just north of the city, and tell the combi driver that you want to get off at Chan Chan. He will make sure you don’t miss it.
Once you get off the combi you can either get a taxi to the entrance to Chan Chan or, as I did, walk about 15 minutes. You will have to pay a 10 sole entrance fee (general adult admission). It is not necessary to have a guide for this site, although I hired one for 25 soles mainly for the company and to practice my Spanish.
The site itself is spread out between three separate sites, plus the museum. The photos in the gallery are only from the main site, which is the palace. Unfortunately I only had time to visit here and the museum, where photos were not allowed.
Huaca de la Luna is paired with Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun), but only Huaca de la Luna is excavated enough to be visited. Because this site is only accessible with a guide, I booked a day trip through one of the many small agencies in town, Colonial Tours at Jr. Independencia N 616. You should not pay more then 20 soles for transportation and the guide, and you will have to pay an additional 10 soles for entrance to the site (general adult admission).
Before entering the site, visitors first see the impressive pottery of the Moche tribes in the museum, where unfortunately photography is not allowed. The photos below are of the carvings and views from Huaca de la Luna.
El Brujo is best known as the burial place of the Senora del Cao, the first governess of Peru. She died during childbirth between the ages of 20 and 25 and was given a burial fit for the most powerful kings and warriors of the time. This site is quite far from Trujillo – about an hour north along the coast – and I booked another day trip through Colonial Tours because their van is infinitely more comfortable than a combi. This trip is a bit pricier at 35 soles for the transportation and guide, and 13 soles for entrance to both the museum and the site. If you book more than one tour with Colonial (or likely any of the other agencies) you are bound to get a discount of 10-15 soles.
Like with Huaca de la Luna, visitors first enter a museum which contains information about the Moche people and their customs, some of which could be quite brutal. I found this to be the most informative of the museums, as well as the most interesting as it had Senora del Cao on display along with her jewelry that she was buried with.