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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. (Meals Aloft)

  • 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. 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 coastal city of Chiclayo. This lively commercial center is surrounded by pre-Columbian sites representing the Moche, Chimú and Lambayeque people. Visit 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, 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 an 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. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before heading to Chaparri, where we spend two nights at the Chaparri Lodge. (B,L,D)

    northern per photos coastal fox
  • Day

    Chaparrí Nature Reserve

    Chaparrí Nature Reserve, a private reserve tucked into an area of Pacific dry forest, is home to projects protecting the Andean spectacled bear and endangered white-winged guan. During a day of nature hikes among the carob trees, watch for the white-winged guan, the park’s flagship species, which is a turkey sized bird that is considered rare outside of Chaparrí but is numerous within the reserve. Other animals we are likely to observe include deer, Sechuran fox, king vulture and ocelot. During our nature walks with the local guides, we learn about the endemic species that call this semi-arid desert home. Watch for the brightly colored military macaw, a bird rarely seen outside of Chaparri Nature Reserve. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Tucume / Jaen

    Travel to Tucume, where we visit this vast complex of Lambayeque ruins. Dating from 1000-1350 AD, Tucume is home to an impressive, prehistoric urban site which encompassed 26 pyramids. Drive toward Jaen, the capital of the Jaen Province in Peru’s Cajamarca Region, in the Northern Highlands. Along the way, our naturalist guide will stop for birding, looking for Marañon crescentchest, Marañon slaty antshrike and more. Overnight at the Hotel El Bosque. (B,L,D)

    northern peri photos gocta waterfall
  • Day


    This morning we head into the Andes to the eternal spring climate of Gocta Lodge, where every room enjoys views of the Gocta Waterfalls, a towering, two-tiered waterfall that is almost as tall as Angel Falls. After lunch and a brief siesta, head out on a naturalist-guided hike, where we look for the area’s famed endemic marvelous spatuletail hummingbird. Other species of interest are Andean cock-of-the-rock, speckle-chested piculet, emerald toucanet and masked trogon. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Cocachimba: Kuelap

    Spend our morning at 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. Archaeologists have dubbed them the Chachapoyans or Sachupoyans. Before returning to Gocta Lodge, stop for a visit at a local home. Once we return to the lodge, enjoy another naturalist-guided birding excursion looking for the marvelous spatuletail hummingbird. (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 local farms near Pomacochas Lake. Walk trails around the lake, where we may observe torrent duck, Andean solitaire and Inca flycatchers. At the private Huambo 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 Lulu’s tody-tyrant or the area’s endemic rusty-tinged antpitta, ochre-fronted antpitta and long-whiskered owlet. Plus, there is also a chance to spy the endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Lamas / Tarapoto

    Late this morning, depart our lodge for the colorful village of Lamas. Spend most of our morning meeting the locals and browsing through the lovely artisan shops. Visit the private Waqanki Orchid Center, hiking in this area of primary and secondary cloud forest. During our nature walk, search for black-throated hermit, gray-breasted sabrewing, rufous-crested coquette and as many as 12 other hummingbird species. Continue to Tarapoto, the “City of Palms,” and a true tropical crossroad of mountains and lowland Amazon forest. Spend the next two nights at Rio Schilcayo, nestled in 12 acres of green gardens. (B,L,D)

    northern peri photos lamas
  • Day

    Tarapoto: Huallaga River / Cordillera Escalera National Park

    Depart this morning for the Pumarinri Lodge, perched on the edge of the Huallaga River. This lodge, just 657 feet above sea level, is nestled in a canyon that crosses the last Andes Mountains before going into the Amazon. Before lunch, set out by boat across the river and venture into the forests of Cordillera Escalera National Park. A short hike through the forest is an opportunity to spot insects, birds, medicinal plants, giant trees and ferns, and colorful frogs. Our walk ends at the peaceful Canoayacu Creek, where we can enjoy a relaxing swim. After lunch, join our local naturalist guides for a birding excursion before visiting the small fishing port of Chumia. Return to Tarapoto for a festive farewell dinner in a local restaurant before spending tonight at the Hotel Rio Schilcayo. (B,L,D)

  • Day

    Lima / En Route

    Enjoy a morning nature walk before flying to Lima to meet your independent overnight flight to the U.S. (B, Meals Aloft)

  • Day


    Arrive in the U.S. and meet your independent connecting flight home. (Meals Aloft)

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
Expedition Destinations