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Stretching across the countryside about 35 kilometers (21.7 mi) northeast of Chiclayo along the old Panamericana are the extensive ruins of Túcume. Dating back nearly 1,000 years, the ruins at Túcume consist of a vast network of 26 pyramids, residential complexes and sacred cemeteries organized around a ceremonial center. Considering the number of pyramids spread across the area, Túcume is often referred to as the Valle de las Pirámides (Valley of the Pyramids). Archaeologists believe that the site was constructed between 1000 and 1375 AD by the Lambayeque people who occupied the area until they were conquered by the Chimú.

Túcume is also home to the longest adobe structure in the world. Measuring an astonishing 700 meters (2,297 ft) long, 280 meters (919 ft) wide and over 30 meters (98 ft) high, Huaca Larga is truly an impressive site. This pyramid and others in the area tell an interesting story of occupation and change in the area. Like the structures of Huacas de La Luna y Sol near Trujillo, these pyramids were constructed in stages, added to with each new wave of conquerors. The Chimú left their mark in 1375, followed by the Incas in 1470. At Huaca Larga, for example, archaeologists discovered the Chimú Temple of the Mythical Bird, beneath an Inca tomb housing the body of a warrior buried with two other men and 19 women.

Excavations led by the late Norwegian explorer-archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl uncovered a number of new and contradictory facets of Peruvian culture, and some experts believe that future excavations will reveal that Túcume was an even grander center of civilization than Chan Chan. For more information regarding the area and its history, visit the site museum near the entrance (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. E-mail:, URL: $3 for adults, $1.50 for students with ISIC card. Closed Christmas). While not spectacular, the museum does contain some interesting photographs and drawings of the area.

Besides the pyramids themselves, the most inspiring aspect of Túcume is the surrounding landscape. If you're up for a bit of a climb, head up to the lookout on Cerro La Raya (also known as El Purgatorio), a massive mountain poking out of the otherwise-flat desert. The views from here are stunning: a complete panorama of all 26 pyramids and accompanying structures.

To get to Túcume, you can either take public transport from the corner of Avenida Manuel Pardo and Angamos in Chiclayo, or head to Lambayeque and take a minivan from the market there (20 min, about $0.50). If you're in the area in February, definitely check out Túcume's Fiesta de la Purísma Concepción, which takes place eight days before Carnaval. If you'd like to stay a bit longer near the site, Los Horcones is a great lodging option, located about 200 meters (656 ft) from the pyramids (Cel: 951-831-705, E-mail:, URL:

08 May 2012

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