Indiana Jonesing in Chiclayo – In Pictures

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.

First stop is the beautifully laid out and designed Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in Lambayeque.  Unfortunately National Geographic owns the rights of the amazing finds inside, often called the Tutankhamun of the Americas, so we only get a building shot.

First stop is the beautifully laid out and designed Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in Lambayeque. Unfortunately National Geographic owns the rights of the amazing finds inside, often called the Tutankhamun of the Americas, so we only get a building shot.

Afterwards I went to the older Brunning museum, which lacked ventilation in a hot day so I made a quick jaunt of it.  I rather enjoyed this whimsical looking statue of death and what looks like a wheel of cheese or whetstone.

Afterwards I went to the older Brunning museum, which lacked ventilation in a hot day so I made a quick jaunt of it. I rather enjoyed this whimsical looking statue of death and what looks like a wheel of cheese or whetstone.

Right next to death was this much more terrifying monkey.  My nightmares are filed with barrels of these.

Right next to death was this much more terrifying monkey. My nightmares are filed with barrels of these.

The kings were thought of as gods so the royal family and religiously important wore mouth masks to hide the fact they were mortals.  You wish you were important enough for a snazzy bling mustache.

The kings were thought of as gods so the royal family and religiously important wore mouth masks to hide the fact they were mortals. You wish you were important enough for a snazzy bling mustache.

The intricate metalwork is beautiful but the little stuff was impossible to get a good picture of.

The intricate metalwork is beautiful but the little stuff was impossible to get a good picture of.

The next day I headed to the actual site in Sipan which had another well designed and even newer museum.

These impish things seemed more European to me than Latin American.

These impish things seemed more European to me than Latin American.

They really like their death statues.

They really like their death statues.

They also really like their terrifying animals, this is a feline-humanoid mask.

They also really like their terrifying animals, this is a feline-humanoid mask.

The king got a seriously large mouth mask.

The king got a seriously large mouth mask.  I’m not sure how he ever spoke or moved his body with all this gold and silver on him.

I'm not sure how this guard was supposed to protect anyone, perhaps by blinding them with his golden chest?

I’m not sure how this guard was supposed to protect anyone, perhaps by blinding them with his golden chest?

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the poured metalwork that long ago.

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the poured metalwork that long ago.

You can tell what ancient Peruvians thought was important.  A-maize-ing. Har had har. There's a statue of peanuts, potatoes, and pumpkins right behind this one.

You can tell what ancient Peruvians thought was important. A-maize-ing. Har had har. There’s a statue of peanuts, potatoes, and pumpkins right behind this one.

Walking 200 meters from the parking lot and museum brings you to the actual pyramid site.

It's no terra cotta warriors of Xi'an but that is still a heck of a lot of jars.

It’s no terra cotta warriors of Xi’an but that is still a heck of a lot of jars.

The recreated grave of the lord of Sipan.  When being buried in a pyramid don't forget your important wife, your military chief, your other wives, a random child, your llama, and jars to hold snacks.

The recreated grave of the lord of Sipan. When being buried in a pyramid don’t forget your important wife, your military chief, your other wives, a random child, your llama, and clay jars to hold snacks.

Two millenniums is not very kind to adobe pyramids.  I'm not sure what the metal sheeting is covering as they told me excavation has stopped.

Two millenniums is not very kind to adobe pyramids. I’m not sure what the metal sheeting is covering as they told me excavation has stopped.

Well ok, this pyramid was slightly less eroded.  I'm not really sure why.

Well ok, this pyramid was slightly less eroded. I’m not really sure why.

The view from the top of the pyramids was wonderful against the runny pyramids.

The view from the top of the pyramids was wonderful against the runny pyramids.

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.

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