Travel off the Beaten Path to Caral, Peru

If you want to travel off the beaten path in Peru, book a day trip to Caral. The 4 hour drive from Lima is long, but you get to see a different part of Peru that not many get to see. Tours typically start at 6am and end at 6pm, with a stop in a nice little town for lunch on the way back that is also not frequented much by tourists.

Photo: Jann Segal

The ruins at Caral are 5,000 years old, and are the remains of the oldest civilization known to man, from pre-Columbian times. The current symbol for Peru is a swirl you now see in advertisements for Peru and it is etched in stone there. You will see it at the second pyramid. The tour you and your English speaking guide purchase is conducted only in Spanish, so your guide will translate for you. 

You will do a lot of walking to get to and from the excavation site, but there are horse drawn carts and donkeys to help with the long walk back to your car or bus for anywhere from 3 to 5 Soles. You will likely have a driver and a guide, and meet many locals whose small homes you pass on the way in. They will sell you handicrafts and sodas. Bring a hat and water; it can get hot in the desert foothills of the Andes. Modern restroom facilities have been built at the entrance to the site.

Before you embark on this journey, be aware that about 15 pyramids exist in Caral, but only two have been excavated due to financial problems, and for those two the job has not been completed. The site was discovered in 1992 and resides among miles of moonscape desert scenery not far from the Peruvian coastline. Many tour companies and private guides can take you to Caral. Try Haku Tours and Caral Tours for starters. Prices range from $125 to $250 for the day and include all transportation costs, admission to the ruins as well as lunch.

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