Though rarely included on first-time visits to the country, Peru’s northern provinces of La Libertad, Lambayeque and Amazonas play host to some lesser-visited gems which will delight those with a particular interest in history and archaeology. This region is home to vestiges of ancient civilisations such as the Moche and Chimu which pre-date the Incas by many hundreds of years.
An easy two-hour flight north from Lima takes you to the unassuming colonial city of Trujillo. Though the sights in Trujillo itself can easily be seen in an afternoon, it serves as the perfect gateway for a shorter archaeological circuit, with easy overland travel taking in the vast adobe city of Chan Chan, the Temples of the Sun and the Moon and the intriguing pyramids at El Brujo. This circuit finishes in Chiclayo, where the highlight is a visit to the Royal Tombs of Sipán and superb nearby museum. For those with even more time who wish to explore further north, the area around Chachapoyas in Amazonas province is a region of lush cloud forests, waterfalls and the pre-Inca walled city of Kuelap, a site that rivals Machu Picchu in its grandeur but attracts only a fraction of the visitors.