Trujillo: Peru's northern gem
by Sara Maria Vivanco
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Many people think of Peru as Macchu Pichu and the Andes mountains, which are certainly a gem in the world, but when coming to Peru, most tourists miss out many other hidden little gems that are spread out throughout this wonderful country. The North of Peru has many of them, which I will be covering in later posts. For now, I will start with the beautiful city of Trujillo, deservedly known as the city of the everlasting spring.
How to get there
Trujillo, located north from the Peruvian capital Lima, is a city of beauty, sun, tradition, history and friendliness. From Lima, you can take a 45 min flight here, or if you’re on a budget, you can take a bus starting from as little as 15 $. The first thing that strikes travelers is the mild temperature, not too hot but not cold either, just perfect!
The city center
Let’s begin with the area of the Plaza de Armas, Trujillo’s main square, where you will find most of the cities colonial buildings, with it’s beautiful wooden balconies, typical of the XVI century Spain. The main square is the place to be if you don’t want to miss out any of Trujillo’s happenings. There is almost always something going on there, especially during the weekends: a band playing, a dance performance, street comedians or a religious celebration. Also, you will find free WIFI -something unsusual here in Peru- which is why you will find lots of locals hanging out there (and playing Pokémon go!)
The Plaza de Armas is surrounded by the Cathedral, the regional government, the municipality and the Libertador hotel. If you want to see more colonial buildings, go shopping or treat yourself to some local specialties, walk down Pizarro Street to the Plazuela el Recreo. This is a boulevard where you will find everything from a fresh-pressed orange juice to banks. You can also find many travel agencies where you can book local tours, bus and flight tickets inside and outside Peru.
When you want to take a break, I can recommend you the little fruit shop right in front of the water fountain. They sell delicious breakfast, drinks, ice cream, fruit salads and juices. Everything is fresh, delicious, and budget-friendly. If you want more comfort, you can continue walking down Pizarro Street until you reach Café Asturias, where the prices are higher, but the food and the service are excellent.
My favorite coffee shop in Trujillo is Café Van Gogh, located on the left side of the Cathedral on Independencia Street. It’s a vintage café, where you can enjoy the best coffee of the city, amazing food, great service and reasonable prices. Also, you will find events happening there on weekends such as the trivia night, outdoors movie and more.
The Peruvian Paso horse
Moving out of the Plaza de Armas area, you can go to Victor Larco district to the Peruvian Paso Horse Association to watch these beautiful horses which are proudly and traditionally bred here. The horse-rider, called chalan, wears a hat and a poncho, and you will get a sense of what Trujillo is all about tradition and elegance. You will also be able to watch a variation of the marinera dance performance: the lady in the traditional dress, and the gentleman riding the Peruvian Paso horse both beautifully dancing at the beat of the band. At this place you will be able to delight the local cuisine such as cabrito a la norteña (northern style goat), arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), papa a la huancaina (potatoes in huancaina sauce), ceviche (spicy raw fish in lemon sauce) and more. I recommend you to drink chicha morada, a tasty drink made of boiled purple corn, an Inca Cola, the Peruvian answer to Coca Cola, or a Pilsen Trujillo, the local beer.
Art, dance and festivals
Trujillo is also well-known for it’s festivals and cultural events: The Annual Marinera Contest takes place in the city every January, where you will see dancers from all over the country display the elegance and courtship of this couple’s dance.
The International Folklore Festival gathers dancers from all over the world to proudly represent their countries in Trujillo every August.
Since Trujillo is the city of the everlasting spring, arriving in Trujillo in September will get you to experience it in all of it’s glory. There are cultural activities every day of the month, which comes to a peak at The Spring Parade and The Color fest at the end of September.
The perfect place for sand boarding!
To get some action, go sand boarding at Conache in Ladero. This is actually my favorite place in Trujillo. It costs approximately 1$ by public transportation and it takes 30 minutes to get there. Take any mini-bus towards Laredo and then ask them to drop you at the market in Laredo. The mini-bus will leave you two blocks from the place. At the market you’ll find shared taxis that will take you to Conache. You will pay a little fee to enter (approximately 2$). Then rent your sand board for about 4$ and you’re ready to go! No previous experience needed! When I fist got to Conache, I was a bit skeptical since I have never been the snowboarding type. Rest assure, you’ll fall but the best part is, the sand is so soft that you yourself would like to fall! I’ve fallen on my back, on my hands, on my head, and I’ve returned home with sand in every part of my body –but no bruises, and a big, big smile!
Archeological sites in Trujillo
Last but not least, Trujillo has two important archeological pre-Columbian sites: Chan Chan archeological site and the Sun and the Moon temple.
The Chan Chan archeological site is the largest ancient adobe city in South America, and a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Sun and the Moon huaca are well-preserved adobe brick temples located in the Moche valley near Trujillo. Both sites are very interesting, especially if you’re into ancient history or archeology, and they easily reached by either bus or taxi from the city center.
This was only a speak peek into all what Trujillo has to offer the visitor. I hope you will take time to experience it by yourself when you visit Peru!