Chiclayo is another city known for pickpockets and thieves, an inauspicious warning for a city surrounded by ancient ruins. They only discovered the ruins because an archaeologist noticed a lot of things showing up on the black market and moved quickly with the police to protect the pyramids. It is no Machu Picchu, it’s also a good millennium earlier, from the Moche culture, which is even more impressive. I was talking to my friendly hostel owner (Muchik Hostel is a nice option in Chiclayo) and he mentioned that he wished more tourists would see their great treasure here. I agree, why all flood Machu Picchu when there is this even more ancient trove? There were all of twenty people at the pyramids as school is out and there were no groups of children. They might want to do something about all the rip off taxis and pickpockets though.
End of the article has transport advice for how to do all of this on your own as I found guidebooks to be a bit scarce in details. I’ve also skipped the cuisine of Chiclayo as I got no good pictures. Arroz con pato (duck with cilantro/beer rice), chirimpico (offal and blood breakfast), and tortilla de raya (manta ray omelette) are all delicious but I found no stand out restaurants in town. I also briefly stopped at the shaman market in Mercado Modelo but was off put by the overly aggressive clerks with their cheap looking bottles of colored oils and left to enjoy an anticucho (grilled skewer) of beef heart in front of the market instead. Seemed like a safer way to get courage.
The next day I headed to the actual site in Sipan which had another well designed and even newer museum.
Walking 200 meters from the parking lot and museum brings you to the actual pyramid site.
There are tours available through Mochi Tours in town, however I found them a little steep (70 soles/28 USD) given we were skipping the Lambayeque museums as the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan is closed on Mondays. It’s completely possible to do alone but public transportation is always slower and there isn’t a huge amount of English descriptions. Museums are all 10 soles or less and an English guide is available at the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan for 30 soles. The Spanish guide is free and friendly as he follows you around telling you stuff even after I told him I didn’t speak much Spanish. The museum stores, a random favorite of mine, were lacking as they were mostly replaced with stalls of tchotchky vendor instead.
How to get to Lambayeque: There are collectivo taxis that leave from either Avenida Angamos or San Martin (I forget which) just north of San Jose street. There are vans just on the street or an actual office midway down the block with cars. They leave when full. Get off near the main market in Lambayeque or just tell them you want to go to the museo. Should be 1.5 soles.
How to get back to Chiclayo; The collective taxis gather either kitty corner from the Brunning Museum (you can see the sign in front of the park) or on the main street between the two museums. You’ll return to the same park in Chiclayo you left near. 1.5-2 soles.
How to get to Sipan: Go to the Tepsel minibus station where Castaneda Iparraguirre and Avenida Agricultura meet. The Sipan bus is buried in the complex, just keep asking where the Sipan bus is. It leaves every half hour (Latin American style, so whenever it feels like, maybe on time). After passing the first town of Sipan, mention you want to go to “los piramedes” and they’ll let you off in the parking lot for the museum on the right. You’ll see the pyramids before this. To get back, catch the same bus going back. 3 soles each way.
Next up I head to the coast to enjoy yet more delicious food and relax. I’m nearing the end of my adventuring towns in foreign countries.