peru sipan and chan chan temple of the moon pre inca moche

Sipan and Chan Chan Extension

Ancient Wonders of Northern Peru


Discover Peru’s mysterious pre-Inca Moche Empire as you explore massive earthen pyramids dedicated to the Sun and Moon (Huacas del Sol and de la Luna), among the biggest monuments ever built in the New World; roam the lanes of Chan Chan, a 13th century Chimu capital in adobe and the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas; and gaze on the incredible golden treasures of the Lords of Sipán, unearthed with the discovery of the Royal Tomb of Sipán in 1987, the richest unlooted tomb ever found in the Americas.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Lima / Chiclayo

Fly via Lima to Chiclayo in northern Peru. Overnight at hotel...meals on your own

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Day 2
Sipán / Tucume / Lambayeque Museum Trujillo

Explore the colossal pre-Columbian site of Tucume, center of the Lambayeque culture, with its 26 earthen pyramids. Later, visit the National Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan (note: closed Mondays), home to rare and beautiful Moche gold masterworks as well as artifacts from Chimu, Chavin, Lambayeque, and Vicus cultures. The Moche were excellent metalworkers who created complex sculptures through the art of lost-wax casting. They also developed ways to accomplish electrochemical plating long before the harnessing of electricity.

Or, explore the Royal Tomb of Sipán, the mud-brick burial platform of the Moche ruler Huaca Rajada, where the extraordinary golden treasures of the Moche people were discovered in 1987 by looters digging into a pre-Incan pyramid. Although few pieces from this original tomb were ever recovered, Dr. Walter Alva, Director of the Bruning Museum, and his wife, fellow archaeologist Susana Meneses, immediately began excavation of the site’s three huge pyramids. They soon discovered two additional tombs that have proven to be the richest unlooted tombs ever excavated in the Western Hemisphere.  We will also visit the Sican Museum, a treasure of pure gold artifacts discovered in the tombs that revealed their culture's surprising command of metallurgy and its exquisite artistry in gold and silver, in addition to its known excellence in ceramics. Continue to colonial Trujillo for overnight...BL

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Day 3
Chan Chan

Explore Chan Chan, capital of the Chimu Empire (heirs to the Moche). Sprawling over ten square miles, it is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest mud city in the world. The center is dominated by ten huge, high-walled complexes—the palaces of the Chimu kings. The Chimu kings were held to be gods, and they retained all of their property and privileges after death, thereby necessitating a new palace for each successive king. One of the complexes has been sufficiently reconstructed so that visitors can explore a bewildering labyrinth of ruined adobe walls, many adorned with fine adobe friezes depicting fish, seabirds, fishnets, rainbows, and moons, bearing testimony to the Chimu’s extraordinarily sophisticated fishing and farming systems developed in response to the arid terrain that typifies much of northern Peru. Later, visit important Moche sites in the Moche and Chicama valleys, including the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, among the largest labor projects ever undertaken in the New World. Overnight in Trujillo...BL

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Day 4
Lima / Depart

Morning tour of the city of Trujillo, a traditional colonial city with a charming ambiance. We’ll visit the old town and the Plaza de Armas to see some of the distinctive architecture with its lovely wrought-iron ornamentation, elegant historical homes, and many churches.

Alternately, visit Paijan, a nearby ranch that raises Peruvian Paso Fino horses. You’ll see a colorful demonstration of the elegant pacing horses bred here, famous for their smooth gate and easy ride. Transfer to airport for evening flight to Lima...BL


Length: 4 days
Cost From: $1270  
Arrive: Lima, Peru
Depart: Lima, Peru
Lodging: 3 nights hotels
Meals: Meals as indicated
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Cultural explorations and walking tours

Visa Requirements

A visa is not required for U.S. citizens visting Peru. A tourist card will be issued to you on the flight to Lima.