Off The Beaten Path: Trujillo, Peru

18 May

Trujillo is a city in northern Peru. It is the third largest city in the country, but it isn’t really a host for many travellers.

Trujillo's Plaza de Armas

To be honest, the only reason I went to Trujillo was that it was the closest big city to me. As I was staying in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, I was dying to eat in a restaurant, to go grocery shopping, and to be able to sleep in a bed that didn’t feel like it was going to collapse any minute. I also went because there were some interesting archaeological sites nearby — Huaca de la Luna y del Sol, Chan Chan, and El Brujo.

I actually ended up liking Trujillo so much that I ended up going twice.

I probably spent about a week total in Trujillo, so I will do my best at giving you a brief overview of what to expect, what to see, etc.

I love street art!

To me, three things stood out in Trujillo: The variety of restaurants, the nightlife, and the sightseeing (the archaeological sites, in particular).

The only aspect of Trujillo that I found was lacking was accommodations. It was really hard for me to find a hostel. I got the name of a hostel from a friend, but there was no taxi driver who seemed to know where it was. Eventually someone found it and it turned out to be a nice hostel, but a little overpriced since there was no dorm option. The upside? Close to Trujillo’s centre and the staff was very friendly and helpful. It was called ‘San Pedro Residencial Hostal‘ or something similar to that. It was nice enough that I stayed there the second time I went as well. One man who worked there even walked some friends and I to a restaurant he thought was really good and wouldn’t accept any tips from us. Note: this is common in Peru and probably anywhere in South America. If someone if going out of there way to bring you somewhere, they will expect a tip. This happened to me on my very first day in Peru! Beware. You’ve been warned.

So other than that, Trujillo was perfect for me.

1) The Food

Every meal I had in Trujillo was great for two reasons: They were cheap and they were delicious. Two of my favourite words. You can look in a guidebook and I’m sure there are plenty of great options, but I just walked around and found great places.

I found that Trujillo had a lot of great breakfast spots. You may even be able to find coffee that isn’t instant for once!

If your in the mood for fast food, you’ll find it everywhere. I went to a mall one day because I needed to buy some warmer clothing and the food court was gigantic. So if you miss fast food go to a mall. I promised myself I wouldn’t have McDonald’s while in South America, but I ended up caving 3 times. In Trujillo, no one really spoke English so I had to order in Spanish. So, after I finally understood exactly how to order my meal: “Una hamburguesa con sólo la carne, pan, queso y salsa de tomate, por favor.” Yes, I was told to ask for everything I wanted, including the meat (carne) and the bread (pan). So, in short, I ordered a burger with only ketchup and cheese because I HATE mustard SO much. I opened up my burger and, to my dismay, there was mustard. Such disappointment. I had finally understood how to order, but I had no clue how to say that my order was made incorrectly. Anyway, Trujillo has some great malls and department stores that are full of resources, including fast food as well as…

This was taken in a mall in Trujillo. Turns out that Twilight really is extremely popular everywhere!

Now, back to food (blood counts though, right?)…

If you’re in the mood for Italian? Yep, you’ll find it. I went to this restaurant a few times called ‘Rustica.’ It had pasta, pizza, and other Italian favourites. It also had Peruvian cuisine like anticuchos de corazon (cow heart!), which I tried, and thoroughly enjoyed. Rustica wasn’t really budget friendly, as some dishes were expensive and some weren’t, but it was nice to have Italian for a change.

Another thing I noticed in Trujillo was that there were a lot of dessert places. So if you’re craving ‘Dulce de leche,’ which I craved pretty much every day, then you’ll be able to find it no problem.

Just walk around and find a restaurant that has a set menu (cheap!) and a huge crowd and you’re golden.

2) The Nightlife

When the night crept in, there were two different kinds of places that I went to.

One was a really fancy club/martini bar type of place. It was expensive and posh, so if that’s your style, then go for it. The other place I went to was more my style. It was called Ributo Bar and it was on one of the main streets off of the Plaza de Armas. Ributo Bar was pure awesomeness. It had cheap drinks (Although no Cusquena, which was odd). The best part though was the live music. Not only was the band amazing, but they even sang a few English songs like “With Or Without You” by U2. I also liked how my friends and I were the only ‘gringos’ in the bar. Unlike in Lima, we weren’t given any special attention. It was cool to just feel like a local.

My suggestion would be to go to Trujillo’s centre, Plaza de Armas, and just walk around the main streets. You’ll find tons of places.

Jenny, Hannelore, and me. I don't look drunk at all...

@ Ributo Bar in Trujillo

3) The sightseeing

I’m not going to go into detail on this because I’ll be dedicating an entire post to one of Trujillo’s main attractions, but I will briefly mention the places I think you should see in Trujillo.

There are two main sights to see in Trujillo that attracts tourists: Huaca de la Luna y del Sol (The Temple of the Sun and the Moon) and Chan Chan. Both are archaeological sites.

I saw the former twice. I loved it. The artwork was amazing and so well preserved. The structures were such a testament to the lifestyle of the Moche people. There is so much more to it, but I will leave that for another post. If you are keen on archaeology, Huaca de la Luna y del Sol will blow you away. Tip: Make sure you get a guide and make sure you get one that speaks English if you can’t speak Spanish. The first time I went, we had no guide, and although I still loved it, having a guide during my second visit exponentially improved my experience at the Temples. Come on, who doesn’t want to learn about blood sacrifice?

Standing in the Temple of the Moon. You can also see the Temple of the Sun in the background (the mound to the right of my head).

As for Chan Chan, I actually didn’t go see it. The reason is because I had limited time and I decided that I would rather revisit Huaca de la Luna since I loved it so much (and since I would be given a private tour through the restricted areas of the temples!). A few of my friends saw Chan Chan and they said it was really cool. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and it is entirely constructed out of adobe bricks which is quite impressive. It is Chimu, rather than Moche, and the adobe city was eventually conquered by the Inca.

Honourable mention: El Brujo. Meaning “The witch doctor.” It is also an archaeological site. It’s an ancient monument of the Moche culture, but what’s really interesting about El Brujo is that Lady Cao was discovered there during excavation. What’s so interesting about Lady Cao? She is the first known governess in Peru! She also was covered in tattoos, which are still visible on her corpse! Amazing. Another interesting thing to experience at El Brujo is, well, probably illegal so I won’t mention it here. You’ll just have to go find out yourself!

One of the rooms inside the El Brujo. I don't think you're allowed to get this close to the walls, but oh well!

So, would you ever consider adding Trujillo to your itinerary?

A lot of people bus from Lima to Mancora, which I think is around 18 hours, so why not make a stop in Trujillo?

It’s off the beaten path, but nothing less than awesome!

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