On the Ruta de la Trembladera to the Coast

Some more historic stones, Perú’s most dangerous road, the country’s Coastal Desert, and the famous site of Chan Chan. Then to the Cordillera Blanca.

Chachapoyas 2 Huaraz

Leymebamba, 3rd September

After a few days in Chachapoya we move on. To Leymebamba. A small village in the middle of the Cordillera Negra, well known for its museum.

On the way a few km on a side road to the famous Chachapoyan necropolis of Revash. High up in the mountains.

A short walk to the tombs. And here we are. The only visitors.

Then just a few km left to reach Leymebamba. 

It’s nearly 4 pm. We quickly have to head for the museum. As it’s a Saturday, we already know that there’s little chance to visit it tomorrow. Arriving there, we learn that we just have 1/2h to see everything. And that for a museum as famous as this. What the hell, we have to concentrate on the most important exhibit: the mummies. The Austrian founder of the museum has preserved over 200 of them from the tombs of the Chachapoyas from the Laguna de los Condores.

Then to the village. Quickly it becomes clear, that the tourist infrastructure in Leymebamba got heavily damaged by the pandemic. Nearly all sleeperies have closed down. Most eateries as well. Finally, we find a room in a guesthouse under construction. At least the guys have a safe place for Prado.

Well, finally we even discover a watering hole. Serving fried chicken with fries as well. The energy we need for tomorrows adventure.

Cajamarca, 6th September

We’re on the Ruta de la Tembladera. The famous 160 km between Leymebamba and the town of Celendin. Some people think it’s the most dangerous road in Perú. Peruvies don’t think about it, they just drive it, and marvel at the view. It’s definitely not a very large road. Often you have the hell a lot of space on your side – down to the valley some 1000m below. If you have a really large car, better make sure your car-shrinking-function works properly.  You will climb to passes, 1 at 3600m, the other at 3200m. And you’ll drive down to a valley where you’ll see the mangoes flowering at some 900m.

Well, that’s all about this road. It’s just 4-5h and you’re done.  Maybe 1 last point: avoid crossing a truck on the way. Especially, in some of the narrow sections.

To make sure everybody is well prepared and feels comfortable when driving this beautiful road, below a small trailer with some of its most spectacular parts.

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From Celedin it’s just another 2h on an ordinary (boring) road to reach Cajamarca … 

… just on time for our well deserved-beer.

Cajamarca CBD – definitely not small, but pretty sleepy. A nice colonial center, a hill in the middle of the town to climb up. Not much more.

Normally, visitors don’t visit it to enjoy its vibrant nightlife or the smell of the never-ending traffic queues in its streets.

The main reasons to come are Las Ventanillas. Nearly 2000-year-old tombs a few km out of town. There are 2 sites: Las Ventanillas de Ozuco (tourist-infested, part of the program of each’n’every tour operator), and Las Ventanillas de Combayo (15km further on a dusty gravel road, completely cut off the tourist pilgrimage path).

We start with the latter 1. Some 25km out of town. Park the car at the street side, search a bit to find the path climbing up to the rocks where the tombs are. And some 15′ later we arrive. We can go everywhere, nothing closed, no fences, even nobody around.

Then we’re on our way to the Ventanillas de Ozuco. An opportunity to experience Peruvi rural life.

Otuzco, definitely a pretty civilized place. There’s a big signboard, food stalls next to the entrance, and a well-established ticket booth with well-defined opening hours where you can empty your pockets to fill others. And there are tourists sneaking around. Wow.

Behind the ticket booth, there are also some tombs. Well fenced to keep off unruly tourists. 

The site definitely not to be compared to Combayo.

Huanchaco, 8th September

Next morning we’re on the way to Huanchaco. A beach resort a few km north of Trujillo. Thus, all reasons to dream of sea, sand’n’sun. Turquoise water, cozy lounges along the beach to sip some Pisco Sour before munching the very best lobster of your life at the gourmet sunset restaurant. Well, surely you know it – ordinary beach life.

To reach this paradise, we 1st have to cross Cordillera Negra – up to some 3300m, just to descend again to the sea.

Finally, we reach Perú’s Coastal Desert and the sea. We’re back on the Panamericana. Still, quite some distance to reach Huanchaco further south

But what a difference to the highlands. A mix of desert, irrigated agricultural land, and industries. The sides of the highway filled with garbage. The whole way long.

True, we’ve heard many times that Perú has a serious garbage problem, especially in the coastal areas. And that many visitors are repelled by all this dirt. Nevertheless, we could never imagine such quantities. Somehow worse than we imagine Kinshasa’s waste disposal.

Late afternoon we arrive in Huanchaco. It’s pretty foggy and cold.  Maybe not exactly what you expect when heading for a beach. Well, probably the sea is warm enough to compensate for the air’s 16 degrees.

To enter the village, you pass a gate. This not really to wish you the warmest welcome you deserve. They rather try to ask for a kind of fee for the honor to enter this incredible beach resort. Fortunately, the booth is abandoned. 

A short walk to the beach. Well, it’s not white sand. It’s more like gravel. And between the stones all kinds of garbage. Not as bad as along the highways, but still a lot. And the sea? Even colder than the air. The only attraction we find is a concrete monument with peeling-off paint as a background to take pictures.

Quickly we stop dreaming of a beach lounge to sip our Pisco Sour after a swim in the turquoise water of the Pacific.

Finally, we have a beer in 1 of the bars along the beach road and something to munch in a rather cold eatery.

Later we search intensively on how to avoid the coast while driving southwards thru Perú.

Anyway, we’re not in Huanchaco to enjoy the outstanding beauty of the place.

 It’s more about a visit to Chan Chan. The largest pre-Columbian settlement in South America. Entirely built with banco some 1400 years ago. Today a UNESCO world heritage.

A huge complex of walls you drive thru to reach the Palacio Nik An. Currently the only area fully accessible to tourists. Still, a lot to see. Mostly carefully restored and well protected from rain under ugly roofs.

On to the next highlight. To the Sun’n’Moon Temples dating of the period before Chan Chan. Some 30km to drive on the bypass of Trujillo, Perú’s 3rd largest town.

A drive maybe not exactly thru your preferred residential area.

Only the Moon Temple is open to the public, the other 1 seems to be under the care of another less active ministry and consequently is decaying.

Only guided tours are allowed, thus a great opportunity to perfect our Spanish. 

From the outside, the complex reminds us of a mine. Still, the interior has to be marveled at.

Huaraz, 9th September

Enough of beach life, enough of the Coastal Desert, and enough of all this garbage. We’re on the way to Huaraz.  The most important town in the Cordillera Blanca. Some 300km to drive. The 1st part along the coast, then crossing the Cordillera Negra to reach Huaraz at an altitude of more than 3000m.

In the afternoon, we finally cross the Cordillera Negra at a little over 4000m – and what a view. The snow-covered Cordillera Blanca. Many summits well above 6000m.

Then downhill again to reach Huaraz. Perú’s hiking’n’trekking capital. Thus 1 of the tourist hotspots.

Well, guys, that’s enough for now. We’re heading for a beer.

Don’t worry, more adventures await you in the next post.  Whatever, just remain jealous and wait for it.



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Perú's Cordillera Blanca