Day 3 |
Oct 20, 2009

Salaverry, Peru

By Juan José Apéstegui, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 08°13’7”S, 078°59’W

Weather: Clear skies, slight wind

Air Temperature: 18C

Sea Temperature: 16C

Pressure: 1018

Wind: S by SW 10 Knots, Beaufort 3

We arrived to Salaverry in the morning, and prepared to disembark, after the usual formalities with the Port Authorities, for our trip to Chan Chan and the Huacas of the Sun and the Moon.

Today we were to visit some of the most interesting pre-Columbian and pre-Inca sites in South America, belonging to cultures that predate the Inca Empire and that had managed to survive and flourish in this desert environment some fifteen hundred years before our present era.

Our excursion took us first to the site of Chan Chan, a very well preserved city, encompassing over twenty square kilometers of mostly adobe edifications, especially big fortified areas that flourished from the middle of the first millennium until finally conquered by the Inca Empire in the fifteen century.

The next part of the tour took us across downtown Trujillo, the town founded by the Spanish conquerors in the sixteen century, and then to lunch in a beautiful hacienda, a veritable oasis in the middle of this arid country, where we were treated to a delicious lunch with many elements of typical Peruvian cuisine.

This included Cebiche, and several dishes made with Potatoes. Peru is the country that gave the world the Potato and the Tomato, among other crops that are cosmopolitan nowadays, and it is blessed with excellent fisheries.

Our second destination in the afternoon was the site of the “Huacas” (meaning sacred sites in the quichua language) of the Moon and the Sun. We were to visit the Huaca of the Moon.
This one is a monumental edifice, built and rebuilt, by the Moche Culture, over a period lasting from 100 BC to 700 AD, and it was an extremely important ceremonial center.

There were several amazing things about this site – its size and the population that it once supported, the sophistication of their building skills, especially because they used mostly adobe, basically mud bricks, to build it, and the carefully painted high-reliefs on the walls, which are more than fifteen hundred years old.

Besides the Archaeology, there were some colorful birds to see, the most attractive being the Vermilion Flycatcher, a little bird about the size of a House Sparrow, colored in bright reds on the head and chest, contrasting with the brown of its back, and several Coots, Moorhens and Andean Ducks, seen in the morning, in an ancient water pool in the site of Chan Chan.