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Huaca de la Luna

Northern Peru

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Land-Based Expeditions
Huaca de la Luna

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Northern Peru

Nature and Archaeology of Northern Peru

Drawing on 37 years of trailblazing travel to Peru, International Expeditions invites you to join a truly pioneering journey into the fascinating cultures and magnificent nature of Northern Peru. From Pacific coast through the lush forests of the Andes, you will discover Peru’s less-visited treasures, where we find one of Latin America’s last great archaeological frontiers and such rare wildlife as the Andean spectacled bear and famed marvelous spatuletail hummingbird.

Peru’s Earliest Cultures

The Northern Coast of Peru is a desert of shifting dunes and scrub area where the earliest of Peru’s cultures thrived and developed great civilizations. The Moche and Chimú people boasted cities that rivaled the famed Machu Picchu, with huge adobe temples and had thousands of artisans creating masterful weavings, metalwork and jewelry. And in Peru’s highlands, the titanic ramparts of Kuelap perch above the jungle, surrounded by small Indian villages still more in tune with pre-Columbian ways than the 21st century.

Peru’s Birding Paradise

IE’s private Peru tour features some of the world’s best birding and seasoned naturalists to ensure you see the most wildlife possible. Search for endangered white-winged guan in the private Chaparrí Nature Reserve. Along with many other species of hummingbirds, you may even spot the marvelous spatuletail hummingbird during hikes near the Gocta Waterfall and Huambo Reserve. Other species to find include the colorful Andean cock-of-the-rock and rare military macaw.

Daily Itinerary

Northern Peru Itinerary

  • Day

    U.S. / Lima

    Fly independently to Lima, Peru and overnight at Costa del Sol Wyndham

  • Day

    Lima / Trujillo

    After breakfast, our guide leads a morning briefing before visiting the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. The museum’s collection documents the development of every major culture and civilization in Peru, from the first hunter-gatherers to modern times. Fly to Trujillo later this afternoon. Founded in 1534, Trujillo was named after the city in Spain where Conquistador Francisco Pizarro was born. Considered the cultural capital of Peru, Trujillo retains much of its colonial charm, which you can discover during a welcome dinner. Spend the next two nights at the Hotel Libertador. (B,L,D)

    northern peri photos trujillo
  • Day


    Start the day exploring Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna — the Temples of the Sun and the Moon. Huaca del Sol, the largest pre-Columbian structure in Peru, is a stepped pyramid of adobe brick that once soared 194 feet into the air and rests on a base measuring 500,000 square feet. The smaller Huaca de la Luna is riddled with rooms that contained ceramics, jewelry and famous polychrome paintings. The Temple of the Moon is an exquisitely decorated temple that represents the spiritual center of the Moche culture. The monument consists of a series of temples built one on top of the other for many years. Within the site, archaeologists have found, among a wealth of ceremonial objects, about 40 skeletons of sacrificed soldiers. In the upper reaches of the adobe ramparts, one can view the remains of enormous walls decorated with figures of multi-colored divinities, the most important of which being the Moche “God of the Mountains.” Continue on to the Huacas de Moche Museum, where an archaeological project preserves the findings on the Huaca de la Luna site. Continue to Huanchaco Beach, watching local fishermen riding totora reed canoes much like their early ancestors. After lunch, enjoy a guided exploration Chan Chán, the largest adobe city in the Old World and the capital of the Chimu Kingdom. Chan Chán’s nine-square-mile complex includes nine major sub-cities, each of which was built by a different ruler. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Trujillo / Chiclayo

    This morning travel to the Brujo Archaeological Complex and Museum, named after the polychrome friezes on its walls. Explore the Lady of Cao Complex where you will see a preserved mummy discovered a few years ago who was possibly the ruler of the Moche culture.

    Continue on to Chiclayo with a stop at the Tumbas Reales Museum where on our guided tour we see many of the artifacts found at the Sipán Tombs. Sipán is one of the most important sites in the Moche culture and in 1987 the excavations revealed a royal mausoleum on an adobe platform 230 feet long, 165 feet wide and 33 feet high. The wealth of gold and precious items made this a historic find but the tomb also offered additional insight into the culture’s technology and belief systems. Buried along with the king who was presumed to be a sort of living deity were companions joining him on the journey into the afterlife including a warrior, priest, three female concubines, a dog, llamas, a child, 212 food and beverage vessels, and a guard with a copper shield, gold helmet and amputated feet. This is an incredible experience you won’t soon forget.  Spend the night at the Casa Andina Select Chiclayo. (B,L,D)

    northern per photos coastal fox
  • Day

    Chaparrí Nature Reserve

    In the morning, we will head towards Laquipampa, a state-protected area that holds one of the finest samples of Tumbesian endemics and Andean Avifauna and the white-winged guan. We also might have the opportunity to observe Baird’s Flycatcher, White-edged Oriole and with luck Elegant Crescentchest and Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner.  Also Spectacled Bear and Sechuran Fox are found in the area. Spend the day exploring Laquipampa and enjoying beautiful landscapes.

    Later, we will head towards the reserve of Bosque de Pomac. This dry forest is a refuge for carob trees, birds, and at the same time for Sican archeological remains. Here are twenty pre-Inca mounds or pyramids, called huacas, like Las Ventanas Huaca, Huaca Lucía, Huaca La Merced or Huaca Rodillona. The archeological discoveries have been surprising because of the number of gold objects found. At Pomac, we can find several common Tumbesian endemics along with threatened species such as the Peruvian Plantcutter and Rufous Flycatcher. Species that occur here include Necklaced Spinetail, Superciliated Wren, Cinereous Finch, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Fasciated Wren, Long-tailed Mockingbird and Saffron Finch. Return to Chiclayo and spend the night at the Casa Andina Select Chiclayo. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Tucume / Jaen

    Early in the morning, we explore the valley of the Pyramids in Tucume.  This impressive urban center, the most important of its time is home to an impressive, prehistoric urban site which encompassed 26 pyramids.

    After lunch, continue through the winding roads of the Andes towards Jaen. The road takes us to 2100 meters of elevation before we descend to the warm Marañon-Chinchipe valleys. Along the way, our naturalist guide will stop for birding, looking for the Marañon Crescentchest, Marañon Slaty Antshrike and more. At the Abra Porculla pass, we look for Porculla Hermit, Ecuadorian Piculet, Chapman’s Antshrike, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and more.

    In the afternoon we will explore the rice paddles north of Jaen looking for Spotted Rail, Gray-breasted Crake, Paint-billed Crake and Ecuadorian Ground-Dove.  Spend the night at El Bosque Hotel in Jaen.  (B,L,D)

    northern peri photos gocta waterfall
  • Day


    This morning we head into the Andes to the eternal spring climate of Chachapoyas Hacienda Achamaqui.  After our arrival, enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by beautiful green landscapes.

    This afternoon visit Trapiche to explore an organic orchard, the hanging bridge and archaeological remains (mausoleum, sarcophagus and cave paintings).  Spend the night at the Hacienda Achamaqui.  (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Cocachimba: Kuelap

    Rise into the clouds this morning on new cable cars that take us up to Kuelap. It took over 200 years and 40 million cubic feet of stone to build the titanic ramparts of this impressive pre-Inca city; however, little is known about the people who built this marvel. This majestic architectural site was built by the Chachapoyas. On our way, we will stop for panoramic views of the Macro Archaeological site known as "Macro Towers" for its interesting design.  Kuelep is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and at first, it seemed inaccessible since it is protected by colossal walls and cliffs on three of its four sides. It has three platforms with circular buildings decorated with rhomboidal and zigzag friezes. Its complex interior architecture indicates it was a well-organized population group.  The surrounding landscape and the natural scenarios make it unforgettable.

    Before returning to the lodge, stop for another naturalist-guided birding excursion looking for the Blue-necked tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and Streaked Tuftedcheek. (B,L,D)

    northern peri photos keulap
  • Day

    Pomacochas Lake / Huambo Private Reserve

    En route to our accommodations at the Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, we stop at the private Huembo Reserve, we may spot male Marvelous Spatuletails at feeders as well as a number of other hummingbird species. Continue to the Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge, where we spend our afternoon hiking trails to observe the prolific local birdlife. Lucky birders may be able to see the area’s endemic Rusty-tinged Antpitta and Ochre-fronted Antpitta.  Plus, there is also a chance to spy the endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey. Explore the “Grallaria trail” looking for the Johnson´s Tody-Flycatcher this afternoon. For the adventurous and physically fit you may choose to try the steep and sometimes muddy trail to find the famous and endemic long-whiskered owlet.Spend the night at the Owlet Lodge. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Lamas / Tarapoto

    These days are spent birding along the road to Moyobamba and the trails of Abra Patricia. This is an incredibly rich region with forests that support the rare Long-whiskered Owlet and the little-known Ochre-fronted Antpitta, the stunning Royal Sunangel, Johnson's and Black-throated Tody-Tyrants, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Bar-winged Wood-Wren and the splendid White-capped Tanager. Multi-species flocks are common here with a plethora of tanagers such as the endemic Yellow-scarfed Tanager, several bush-tanagers, mountain-tanagers and flowerpiercers along with antbirds, woodcreepers, fruiteaters, becards, flycatchers, vireos and warblers. We will also find loads of hummingbirds like Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Bronzy Incas, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Long-tailed Sylph.  Spend these nights at the Owlet Lodge (B,L,D daily)

    northern peri photos lamas
  • Day

    Lima / En Route

    Depart this morning for Tarapoto. Along the way, we will stop at Waqanki orchid center that offers more than 150 species of orchids and a garden for hummingbird viewing. We may also find Blue-tailed Emerald, Golden-tailed Sapphire, White-hecked Jacobin and everyone’s favorite rockstar the Rufous-crested Coquette.

    We will also visit the Arena Blancas Reserve. Here you will sit in blinds where bird feeders attract Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Cinereous and Little Tinamous. We may also find Napo Sabrewings, Rufous-crested Coquette and Wire-crested Thorntail hummingbirds at the excellent feeders at this reserve.  Spend the night in Tarapoto at the DM Tarapoto hotel.


  • Day


    Today, we will visit the Ecoaldea San Roque which is Social Entrepreneurship co-created by the willingness of volunteers, students and global travelers who enjoy empowering local communities towards a global sustainable impact. Their goal is to reduce the educational gap between large cities and rural Amazon, focusing mainly on empowering local skills for sustainable Eco-businesses like Ecotourism, Forest Conservancy and Ecological Farming. We will join students to see their school, learn about their recycling efforts and bio orchards.  We will also explore a biodiversity Trail through an Environmental Education Area. Spend the night in Tarapoto at the DM Tarapoto hotel.  (B,L,D)

  • Day


    Enjoy a morning nature walk where we may encounter Blue-headed Parrots, Black-throated Hermit, Ruddy Ground-dove as well as Double-tooth Kit before flying to Lima to meet your independent overnight flight to the U.S. (B)

Things to Know

How active is IE’s Northern Peru tour?

Guests need to be reasonably fit to enjoy their Peru tour. This includes being able to walk up to four hours unassisted and withstand being in a vehicle for up to 10 hours, with stops. Walks in forests are typically on good paths but can be a bit challenging in bad weather.

Do I need a visa to travel to Peru?

No visas are required for US or Canadian citizens to travel to Peru.

Will I need to a converter?

Electricity in Peru ranges from 110 to 220V AC. Many appliances are dual voltage and can handle 110V to 220V. Guests need to check their appliances to see if a convertor is needed. Guests will need Type G British 3-pin adaptor.

What wildlife will I see on IE’s Northern Peru tour?

While we can never guarantee wildlife sightings, some of the notable species in the areas we visit are:

  • Marvelous spatuletail hummingbird
  • Andean spectacled bear
  • Andean cock-of-the-rock
  • White-winged guan
  • Sechuran fox
  • King vulture
  • Ocelot
  • Marañon crescentchest
  • Marañon slaty antshrike
  • Speckle-chested piculet
  • Emerald toucanet
  • Masked trogon


Hotel Rio Shilcayo

Hotel Rio Shilcayo

With more than five hectares of gardens and greenery, Hotel Rio Shilcayo is “the” place to stay in Tarapoto and the perfect location from which to explore the Amazon rainforest. Rio Shilcayo is far from the noise of Tarapoto but just five minutes from the city center. All rooms feature AC, TV with cable, minibar, hot water, private terrace and Wi-Fi.

Gotca Lodge

Gotca Lodge

In addition to featuring one of the most spectacular views in all of Peru, Gocta Lodge also enjoys an exceptional climate and a strategic location, making it an ideal base to explore the whole region of the Chachapoya. Gocta Lodge is located in the small village of Cocachimba, the starting point for hikes to Gocta. Situated at an altitude of 1,800 meters, it enjoys a privileged spring climate. Gocta Lodge is specially designed to enjoy views of Gocta waterfall. Every room has either a balcony or a terrace facing the waterfall. The gardens, pools and surrounding terraces also face the waterfall, ensuring maximum visual impact. Rooms are large and comfortable. The kitchen incorporates the best ingredients of this Andean region, and the restaurant also has an indoor dining room and a large terrace.

Chaparri Eco-Lodge

Chaparri EcoLodge

Chaparri Ecolodge is located in Chaparri Nature Reserve, deep in the forests of northern Peru, providing a tranquil escape in the foothills of the Andes. While here, you enjoy excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The lodge has six en-suite double cabins. All buildings are constructed in traditional style with local materials (adobe and stone) to ensure they blend into the environment, reduce the carbon footprint of importing materials and provide local jobs during construction. Hot water is provided from solar water heaters. Electricity is provided from solar panels. Waste water is treated through a sedimentation tank and horizontal flow reed-bed treatment system before being used for irrigation. An open-air dining area maximizes the visitor’s interaction with the local wildlife. The menu uses local produce where possible and is a fusion of traditional local cuisine with international elements prepared by staff from the local community – food cooked in the traditional earth oven is a particular specialty. Around the lodge there are communal areas where one can swim in the pool, in the stream, rest in a hammock or just sit back and enjoy the view. There is a network of trails and some hides and viewpoints for wildlife viewing.

Hotel Libertador - Trujillo

Hotel Libertador – Trujillo

Hotel Libertador Trujillo is located in the main square of the city’s historic center, offering guests the best in service amidst elegant colonial style surroundings. The Hotel Libertador is considered the best in town, owing to the quality of the services, amenities and the warm hospitality of their highly trained staff. The hotel has just 79 rooms, a large dining area and a business center. The hotel also features a restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

From: $6,000 per person
13 Days, 12 Nights
Trip Type