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Overview

Running along the Pan-American Highway from Lima all the way to Ecuador, Peru's north coast is strung with beaches bursting with golden sunlight and surf. The oceanfront resorts of Máncora attract a hedonistic jet set, while smaller hideaways by the Pacific Ocean such as Huanchaco and Puerto Chicama pull in international surfers. Nature lovers flock farther north to the crocodile sanctuary and mangrove forests outside Tumbes where jaguars prowl and parrots roost. Archaeology buffs should explore not only Peru's north coast but also the northern highlands region, strewn with the adobe and rock ruins of fascinating ancient cultures. ...

Running along the Pan-American Highway from Lima all the way to Ecuador, Peru's north coast is strung with beaches bursting with golden sunlight and surf. The oceanfront resorts of Máncora attract a hedonistic jet set, while smaller hideaways by the Pacific Ocean such as Huanchaco and Puerto Chicama pull in international surfers. Nature lovers flock farther north to the crocodile sanctuary and mangrove forests outside Tumbes where jaguars prowl and parrots roost. Archaeology buffs should explore not only Peru's north coast but also the northern highlands region, strewn with the adobe and rock ruins of fascinating ancient cultures. Must-do stops on any cultural tour of the north are elegant colonial Trujillo and friendly Chiclayo, both cities surrounded by the ruins of pre-Columbian pyramids, royal tombs, and vast prehistoric settlements. In the remote cloud forests of the northern highlands, the mighty mountaintop fortress of Kuélap and other ancient ruins hidden in the jungle beckon. Mystical-minded travelers may make the epic journey to Huancabamba where Peruvians still consult with brujos (shamans) and cuanderos (traditional healers).

Sara Benson
About the Expert

Sara Benson was the coordinating author for Lonely Planet's Peru and wrote the Peru chapter for South America on a Shoestring.

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Sara Benson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through March (coast), May through September (highlands). Also Carnaval (February/March).