Places in Peru You Might not have Heard of but Should Visit
Peru is an incredible travel destination with its diverse landscapes ranging from deserts to the Andean mountains, exotic rainforests teeming with biodiversity and beautiful coastal towns. Even the food reflects that diversity with seafood dishes (ceviche!) to Anticuchos de Corazón (Grilled Heart) and 3800 different types of potatoes to very spicy chillies.
Machu Picchu is probably the most well-renowned tourist magnet in the country. And Lima and Cusco are among the more prominent cities that always make the top-things-to-do-in-Peru lists. But if you ever plan to make a trip to this incredibly vibrant part of the world, there are some other not-so-well-known but equally precious hidden gems in the Northern region of Peru that you could explore.
“Don't you know, if you don't step outside yourself, you'll never discover who you are. ” ― José Saramago ┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬┴┬ Cajamarca seen from the hill Santa Apolonia. #cajamarca #peru #clouds #mountains #cordilleradelosandes #city #ciudad #sky #skies #andes #quote #nikonreflex #nikonphotography #love #josesaramago #blooming #succulove #cactuslover #landscape #landscape_captures #fleurs #ctperu
This town, which is the capital of the Cajamarca province, is encircled by harsh Andean mountains on every side. Cajamarca is home to a very important piece of history – the end of the Incan Empire. The last Incan Emperor, Atahualpa, was imprisoned in El Cuarto del Rescate (The Ransom Room) after losing the Battle of Cajamarca to a Spanish force. A room, considered to be The Ransom Room, is a favourite spot to see. Also, just 20 kilometres south of the town lies the Cumbe Mayo, which is one of the oldest man-made structures in all of South America. Cumbe Mayo, which translates to thin river, is a series of canals believed to be approximately 3,000 years old. The Cajamarca Cathedral, which stands in the main historic square in the city, Plaza De Armas, and has a gold-leaf covered covered altar is also a must-see.
Local specialties like the tamales (corn dough stuffed with meat, beans or chilis) and sesos (cow brains) are must try when in this region. If you want a break from local cuisine (but why would you!) you can try some burgers at the popular Sanguchon or sample some Italian food made with cheese from the best cattle in the country from the region at Pizzeria Vaca Loca. You can also enjoy a night at a local peña, a bar or club featuring live folklore music, like El Batán.
Nicknamed the “La Primera Ciudad” meaning the first city, Piura is the first and oldest Spanish town in South America. The town served as a port for the colonists to ship the Incan gold back to Spain. Today the coastal region, especially Mancora Beach and Cabo Blanco, is a hot surfing destination with its big waves and unoccupied beaches. Peru’s oldest park, the Plaza De Armas, lies in the heart of Piura, with a lot of shops and restaurants around. Need a break from history? Head to the Kurt Beer Ecological Park to check out the interesting flora and fauna in the region. Piura is also known for its artisans that make straw hats, Chulucana Pottery and silverware.
For food, Piura has diverse options to serve all palates. Chifa, a culinary tradition that came about after the immigration of Chinese to Peru in the 19th and 20th Century, is a fusion of Cantonese and Peruvian cuisine and an essential part of food culture in the country. Chifa Canton is a dining spot in Piura place. If you are craving a hearty bite of well-cooked steak, El Uraguayo is the way to go. And for local cuisine, the Snack Bar Romano is the well-known choice. To cool down when the temperatures soar, try the manjar blanco (milk caramel) or límon ice cream at Heladería el Chalán.
A must-visit for all history buffs and museums maniacs – Lambayeque boasts some of the most world-class institutions in the country featuring local pre-historic artefacts. The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán and the Brüning Museum are the most popular. Another massive chunk of history lies at Túcume, deep in the Lambayeque Valley, a short drive from the town. Aptly nicknamed “The Valley of Pyramids” for the 250 pyramids in the region, archaeologists are still exploring and discovering more. The Monsefú Handicraft Market, located just a 15-minute bus ride south of Chiclayo, the biggest city in the Lambayeque region, is the place to go to see the beautiful floral art and woven handicrafts made with cotton, straw, and gold and silver embroidery.
The must-try local dishes are Chinguirito, a ceviche made from dried guitarfish meat; a stew made from kid offal, onions, garlic, chilli peppers, coriander and squash; Chirimpico, King-Kong, a sweet biscuit filled with dulce de leche and pineapple or peanut jam. To wash all that deliciousness down, order a renowned Pisco sour or a Purple Chica which is a local non-alcoholic drink made of purple corn.
Don’t hesitate to extend your trip to Peru to go off the beaten path and delve deeper into the history of the region. Or go back to see the bits you might have missed out the last time. This beautiful country has a lot more than meets the eye!