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Guided Tours

Agencies offering standard city and archaeological tours include Guía Tours, Jr. Independencia 580 (tel. 044/245-170); Chacón Tours, Av. España 106 (tel. 044/255-212); Consorcio Turístico del Norte, Jr. Pizarro 478 (tel. 044/205-645); and Trujillo Tours, Diego de Almagro 301 (tel. 044/233-091). Most standard tours cost S/45 to S/60 per person. Tours to El Brujo are generally S/90 to S/120.

Colonial Trujillo

Trujillo has an impressive collection of elegant colonial- and republican-era houses (casas antiguas) and baroque churches, as well as one of Peru's odder museums of ancient ceramics. A tour of Trujillo rightly begins with the graceful Plaza de Armas, where vendors hang out and families in their Sunday finery pose for pictures in front of the Libertad monument. On the square is the Catedral, built in the mid-17th century but rather sober and uninteresting, although it has a Museo Catedrático (tel. 044/235-083) with silver and gold chalices and bishops' vestments. The museum is open 9am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday; admission is S/5. The plaza is ringed by colorful examples of fine colonial-era mansions, including the one that is now home to the Hotel Libertador. Trujillo's pastel colonial buildings are distinguished by their ornamental wrought-iron window grilles, unusual in Peru.

Trujillo's Other Casas Coloniales -- Besides the colonial and republican houses that allow visitors, other houses worth a look from outside (and occasionally inside, if they're public buildings) are the bright yellow Casa de la Emancipación (now Banco Continental), Pizarro 610, where independence from Spain was proclaimed on December 29, 1820; Casa Bracamonte, Independencia 441; Casa Lynch, on the Plaza de Armas opposite the cathedral; Casa Aranda, Bolívar 621; Casa del Mayorazgo de Facalá, Pizarro 314; and Casa García Holguín, Independencia 527 on the Plaza de Armas.

Huanchaco

Huanchaco, 13km (7 1/2 miles) northwest of Trujillo, is a tranquil and traditional fishing village now doubling as a pretty low-key resort. On summer weekends, though, it gets jumping with folks from Trujillo and vacationing Peruvians. Huanchaco is a very good alternative to Trujillo as a base for exploring the archaeological sites of the Chimú and Moche (and a day's visit to the capital city is easily accomplished from Huanchaco).

The town's fishing character is apparent in the long jetty that juts out over the water and the pointy handcrafted boats called caballitos del mar (or caballitos de totora), for which Huanchaco has become famous and which remain the photogenic vessel of choice for fishers. These small boats, made of bound totora reeds, have been used by fishermen for more than 1,000 years, since the reign of the Moche. The area around Huanchaco is one of the few places in Peru where this ancient sea-vessel tradition has not disappeared from use. When not out on the water, they're parked on the beach in groups like slender tepees.

Besides a stroll on the beach and visit to Huanchaco's pleasant artesanía market, there's not too much to see or do. A 16th-century colonial church clings to a cliff, but it's a long walk uphill from town. More than anything else, Huanchaco's easy pace and proximity to the sea are its main attractions. It has several agreeable resort hotels, seafood restaurants, and nice stretches of beach. The big waves here attract local surfers and a few board-carrying tourists, although the biggest and best waves are at Puerto Chicama (also known as Malabrigo), about 80km (50 miles) farther up the coast. Waves there can be ridden up to a half-mile, and it's the site of the largest left wave in the world. (Another good spot in the far north is Cabo Blanco, about 110km/68 miles south of Tumbes.) La Casa Suiza hostal rents out body boards.

Getting There: Pick up a Huanchaco bus along Independencia in Trujillo; the buses go along the first part of the beach before turning on Los Ficus. You can get to Puerto Chicama by colectivos, which depart hourly from the Terminal Interurbano on Calle Santa Cruz in Trujillo; the journey takes about 90 minutes.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.