You’ll be seeing a lot of BROWN in today’s post. I’ll be taking you to three archaeological sites that are easily explorable during your time in Lima, Peru.
The first one up is Pachacamac, located about 20 miles south-east of Lima. It served as a place of worship for the people situated in and along the central coast. A vast complex of temples, pyramids, plazas, and dwellings, it was first built by the Huari people between 600 and 800 AD. It survived the Inca conquest, who actually kept it as a religious shrine and even added structures to it, but fell with the Spanish conquest in the 1530s.
We took a tour bus to the site (about an hour’s drive each way) from our base in the Miraflores district. Now Hubby and I usually like to explore on our own but in a place like Lima and it’s surrounding systems, where there’s really no good public transportation, unregulated taxis everywhere and CRAZY driving conditions, combined with our lack of fluency in Spanish, the easiest was just to pay a company to do everything for us.
One benefit of our apartment in Lima was that it was just a ten minute walk to Kennedy Park. A friendly relative of the apartment’s on-site manager told us that when we just arrived that there was a kiosk in the park where you could book various tours. The tour with Mirabus to Pachacamac was 60.00 Nuevos Soles, or $23, per person. We paid the morning off and off we went in the open deck bus. First, the tour, staffed by a friendly bus driver and bilingual tour guide, went through through the districts of Barranco and Chorrillos along the coast. Then along the way we made a very brief stop to the Natural Reserve of Villa Swamplands. The natural reserve is very special to the area since everywhere else is a desert….but we didn’t really see much of it. All we did was get off the bus, walk to an area where some boats are docked and take some pictures. Didn’t see any birds at all.
Then it was on to the main event, Pachacamac. The site is very large and is still being explored/excavated, which means that for the majority of the tour, you remain on the bus going from area to area while the guide talks about what you’re seeing. The one place where you get out is when you reach the Temple of the Sun. The Temple of the Sun, besides being an impressive site in itself, affords wonderful views of the Lurin Valley below and the Pacific Ocean. We spent quite a bit of time just exploring the temple and taking pictures. On the way out, we went into the small museum that houses some of the archaeological finds of the site.
Would I recommend going to Pachacamac? Yes, if you have half a day to spare while you’re in Lima. It’s a great reminder that there’s more to Peru than the Incas and Machu Picchu. It doesn’t cost much and is easy to do so why not? Just don’t get your expectations up that this is an AMAZING site where you’ll see wondrous things and be like Indiana Jones. As you can see from the pics, things are pretty run down and some areas just look like big piles of rocks.
Pachacamac is actually probably going to be a lot more popular now with tourists because a team of Belgian archaeologists working on the site just discovered a 1,000-year-old oval tomb containing the skeletons and mummies of over 70 people, including that of a dozen infants. The people are believed to have been sacrificed to the gods since buried with them were offerings such as masks, copper and gold, and ceramic vessels. Dogs and guinea pigs were also buried with the people. This new discovery is likely to raise Pachacamac’s international profile and lead to more visitors. Once they get done with examining and cataloging the finds, they’ll probably go into the museum.
Huaca Pucllana is actually a little more fun in my opinion. Plus its so convenient since it’s literally IN the city. It’s quite something to see a pre-Inca pyramid surrounded by high rises. It served as an administrative and ceremonial center for the Lima culture ( 200 A.D. – 700 A.D.) in and around the Lima valley. The site itself was probably built around 500 A.D. This site was only a five to ten minute walk from our apartment in Miraflores.
You can only explore the site with a tour, which is included in the ticket price (about $5). There are no set tour times, you basically wait around until there are enough people that speaks and understands your own language (English or Spanish) to form a small group. There’s always people arriving so it doesn’t take long.
I really liked Huaca Pucllana because we got to walk all around the site and there were exhibits to make the history come alive. See the pic above of a representation of what the people who worked there may have looked like. They also had a small garden and animal area to illustrate the types of foods they raised and ate. Archaeologists have found several “tomb” areas where people were buried/sacrificed and they’ve placed fake figures in them to illustrate how they were found.
Another thing located in the site is a gourmet restaurant, Restaurant Huaca Pucllana. The one thing I regret is not having a nice dinner one night. Imagine sitting in the patio on a warm night eating dinner with a 500 A.D. year old illuminated archeological site as the backdrop! It must be magical! For one reason or another though, not enough time, too tired, trying to reign in our costs, etc…we never did end up going.
Huaca Huallamarca is another pre-Inca site right in the middle of the city, located in the San Isidro district. Entrance for the small site was about $2.50 per person (if I remember correctly). You first go into the small museum housing some of the finds, including a very well-preserved woman mummy, and then come back out to walk up the big ramp to the upper platform. From the platform you get wonderful views of the San Isidro district and can look into some of the dig areas.
Is it worth it to go to Huaca Hullamarca. If you happen to be in the area. The site is VERY small and 15 minutes is all you really need to spend there.
So there you have it, three different days spent exploring three different pre-Inca archaeological sites.