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Salaverry and Trujillo, Peru - South America Port of Call

Cruising from Lima, Peru through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale

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Chan Chan archaeological site near Salaverry, Peru

The Chan Chan archaeological site near Trujillo, Peru is a fascinating look at the ancient Chimu civilization.

Chan Chan Photo (c) Linda Garrison
Cruise ships often port in Lima, Peru before sailing north along the western coast of Peru towards the Panama Canal. Salaverry is the port for Trujillo, the second largest city in Peru. Since most visitors to Peru choose to travel south of Lima to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, the northern coast Peru is not as developed for tourism. However, it still has numerous interesting archaeological sites and has managed to retain much of its colonial flavor. Like Lima, Trujillo was also founded by the Spanish conquistador Pizarro.

Most of the shore excursion options in Trujillo revolve around exploring some of the 2,000 archaeological sites in the river valley nearby. The ancient Chimu capital of Chan Chan is near Trujillo and the most famous site. The Chimu, who preceded the Incas and were later conquered by them, built Chan Chan about 1300 A.D. At 28 square kilometers, it is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest mud city in the world. At one time, Chan Chan had over 60,000 inhabitants and was a very rich city with a vast wealth of gold, silver, and ceramics. After the Incas conquered the Chimu, the city remained untouched until the Spanish came. Within a few decades of the conquistadors, most of the treasures of Chan Chan were gone, either taken by the Spanish or by looters. Visitors today are amazed primary by the size of Chan Chan and by what it must have once looked like.

Another archaeological site that is very interesting are the Temples to the Sun and Moon (Huacas del Sol y de la Luna). The Mochicas built them during the Moche period, over 700 years before the Chimu civilization and Chan Chan. These two temples are pyramidal and about 500 meters apart. The Huaca de la Luna has over 50 million adobe bricks, and the Huaca del Sol is the largest mud structure on the continent. The desert climate has enabled these mud structures to last for hundreds of years.

For those who love colonial architecture and design, the city of Trujillo is an interesting place to spend the day. Trujillo sits on the edge of the Andean foothills and has a beautiful setting amongst the vast greenery and brown hills. Like most Peruvian cities, the Plaza de Armas is surrounded by the cathedral and city hall. Numerous colonial mansions have been preserved in the old city and are open to visitors. The fronts of many of these buildings have distinctive wrought-iron grillwork and are painted in pastel colors.

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