Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

And now, presenting a part of the world that just doesn’t see much tourism at all. As you might have guessed from the name of the blog, this is Worthy Go, not one normal world. In any case, full credit for the vast majority of this itinerary goes to my wife, who’s both better at Spanish and awesome at finding some of the less-traveled places on earth.

To say Chiclayo, northern Peru is on the tourist trail is kind of saying a stopped clock is correct. Twice a day, you might see a tourist. Gringos are pretty rare here, though it’s admittedly difficult to tell whether the non-gringos are locals, from other parts of the country, or from other parts of the Latin American continent. My ear isn’t nearly attuned enough to Spanish to make heads or tails of the subtle regional differences…

In any case, Chiclayo is a waypoint, a hub for northern Peru if you’re coming from Ecuador (see my recent post on crossing the border at Huaquillos for an inspiring development). Two places worth seeing are in town, while a few others are fairly short collectivo rides away and are best caught from within Chiclayo.

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

Start with the witches market / witch’s market, a small sub-section of the Mercado Modelo and somewhat hidden (start from the southwest corner of the market). We didn’t see any witches (dangit!) but if you were looking for some of the ingredients needed in a witch’s concoction, this is supposedly the place to come.

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

The cures and offerings in this corner of the market tend to go from homemade to bizarre boxed products promising a windfall of money or a sudden libido boost.

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Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

Don’t forget about the skulls and talismans needed to bring about the spirits to do your bidding or somesuch…

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

Between being poorly marked and essentially just a couple of short rows in a much larger market, it’s certainly not a reason to make the journey here by itself. It’s a fun side stop if you’re already in town, however.

Name: Witches Market / Witch’s Market
Address: inside the Mercado Modelo, southwest corner — Calle Juan Cuglievan 1379, Chiclayo 14001
(GPS coordinates: -6.766361, -79.840185)
Directions: Mercado Modelo is a pretty central landmark in Chiclayo, and any taxi driver will know this place. Navigate to the southwest corner and start looking for stuff that doesn’t look like it belongs.
Hours: 7am-8pm Mon-Sat, 7am-2pm Sun.
Admission: free
Phone: none
Website: none

Museo Tucume and the Tucume pyramids

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

Also occasionally spelled ‘Tucumbe’, the pyramids and civilization date back centuries. Work on the museum began back in 1993, and was revamped along with a few other modern touches were inaugurated on 5 September 2014. It seems a clear attempt to raise the place’s profile to Machu Picchu visitors, but it’s not quite there.

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

Start with the new museum rooms (especially if you walked) and enjoy the air-conditioning along with the history retold in pretty good English.

Destination: Chiclayo, Peru: a witches market and ancient pyramids - Peru -

The Tucume pyramids were built, not carved, and there are 26 in all that date from the eighth century according to legend. The reality is that there’s no signage on site explaining this. Once you’re out of the museum, only a few signs in total explain anything about the site. One pyramid is under renovation, but others are readily visible from the dirt trail.

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Multiple mirador (viewpoints) await, and the stairs make relatively quick work of getting to them. Be aware they’re both steep and uneven, so watch your step.

Perhaps in 5–10 years the site will have evolved into a more legitimate Machu Picchu competitor. Some parts of it are already priced at a premium — the cafeteria’s meals are a bit higher priced than similar offerings elsewhere…

Name: Tucume Museum (Museo de Sitio de Túcume)
Address: Caserío La Raya, Campo. Apartado Postal 970, Chiclayo, Peru (GPS: -6.513382, -79.847385)
Directions: A number of collectivos head here from Chiclayo, and for 2.5 soles a person, you’ll stop along the road about two kilometers away from the entrance. From here you can opt to walk or take a tuk-tuk directly to the entrance (for 3 soles a person). Since you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking once on the site, a tuk-tuk is probably a worthy way of saving energy — especially on a hot day.
Hours: Open 8am-4:30pm.
Admission: 8–10 soles (same price for foreigners and locals alike — the 10 sol ‘integral’ ticket doesn’t seem to offer anything beyond the 8 soles ticket. There’s also no one checking tickets once you’re inside and on the trails.
Phone: none
Website: none

A few other things to know about Chiclayo:

  • Collectivos and unmetered taxis are king here — there are no buses or trains to get around town. Before jumping into a taxi, be sure to announce your destination and ask how much (Cuanto?). While unmetered, taxis were pretty consistent with their rate — we paid 4–6 soles for our rides throughout town.
  • Plaza Real and the surrounding area are great for restaurants and shopping in general. This modern mall is well-known and easy to reach on foot.
  • In three days around the city, we saw maybe seven or eight gringos. This is not what you would call a tourist town. In other words, know your Spanish (at least one person in your party) and don’t expect all the amenities as found in more touristy towns.

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