Arqueological Daytrips from Lima

March 14, 2018

Caral is one of the oldest known human settlements in the Americas. Pachamac is a massive pre-Inca site soon to be home to Peru's new National Museum of Archeology.

Both make great daytrips from Lima, with Caral around five hours return by car and Pachamac two hours.

Lima may be far from the Inca heartland, up in the Andes, but the coastal area around the Peruvian capital was also home to various pre-Colombian cultures, which left behind some fascinating archeological remains. Some of those have been subsumed into the city itself, including the Huaca Pucllana, which is just a couple of blocks from Atemporal. But two of the most important and fascinating make for great daytrips out of the Peruvian capital. They are Caral, some 150 miles north of Lima, and founded around 2800BC — the most ancient city in the hemisphere— and Pachacamac, a sprawling complex of temples and pyramids first established around 200AD, just south of what is now Lima.

  1. Caral

Dating from the same period as the construction of many Egyptian pyramids, Caral was first discovered in 1948 although its significance was not appreciated at the time. It was not until further excavations in the 1990s that archeologists began to realize how important a find it was, with its temples, amphitheater and hundreds of homes. Although the adobe nature of the constructions — as opposed to the granite and other stone used by the Incas — has not been preserved well, we do now know that Caral was a bustling commercial center with, perhaps, 20,000 inhabitants living in and around it. We also know it appeared to be home to a peaceful society, with no weapons, art or other artefacts that would indicate violence of any kind having been found there. Finds do, though, include flutes made from the bones of condors and pelicans and cornets made from those of deer and llamas.

  1. Pachacamac

Pachacamac is a much larger, and more recent, site, covering more than 1,000 acres just south of Lima. Named after a creator god (the name literally means “earth-maker”), it features various temples, including a “temple of the sun”, and extensive graves. It appears to have been a thriving city state until being conquered by the Incas around 1470, just a half-century before the Incas were in turn subjugated by the Spaniards. Grave robbing and erosion caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon down the centuries, mean that Pachacamac, like Caral, requires visitors to use their powers of visualization to fully capture the splendor that might once have existed here. It will also be home to a large, new national archeological museum, due to open its doors in 2021, to mark the bicentenary of Peru’s independence from Spain.

To visit Caral or Pachacamac while staying at Atemporal, visit, mail or call +51 1 700 5106.

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