If you can Chan Chan?

Days: 285 (6 April 2015)

Total distance travelled: 54,631.7 kilometres (33,932.73 miles)

As we trudged along the edge of a dusty, litter strewn highway, to our right appeared a gleaming white church.

Out here in what felt like the desert, it seemed as though we’d strolled into our very own ‘Kill Bill’ movie scene…

Thankfully there was nobody ready to gun us down!

Like a scene out of our own Kill Bill movie…

Like a scene out of our own Kill Bill movie…

So, why were we here, out in the dusty desert, under the beating sun, breathing noxious fumes from the various vehicles that passed us by (sure, this sounds a little stupid)?

Well, having apparently missed our stop, we were now forced to walk back along the highway, to the entrance to the Chan Chan archaeological site.

How I missed it, with it’s huge fucking sign however remains a mystery…

Imagine our joy upon discovering that having now finally reached this entrance/turnoff, we now had to walk another couple of kilometres to find the ruins proper… as well as the ticket office!

Despite only being on the fringes of Trujillo, a bustling, colonial city, all of a sudden it felt like we were somewhere very remote.

The seemingly empty vastness of the desert will do that…

Welcome to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Chan Chan

Welcome to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Chan Chan

As we began our second long walk, you can imagine how we’d wonder who’d bother building a city out here, in the midst of a desert?

That would be the Chimu people, back in around 1300, or so I’ve read.

This city once housed close to 60,000 people (making it the largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas) and is listed as the largest adobe city in the world.

As we walked towards the site proper, it was hard not to be impressed with the scale of the place, whilst at the same struggle with the concept that anybody had dared to live in this inhospitable place at all!

We handed over our entrance fee (it taking us a little while to actually find which window was the ticket office), and made our way towards the ruins closest to us, the most restored section of Chan Chan.

Entering the restored areas of Chan Chan

Entering the restored areas of Chan Chan

All of a sudden, with walls again close to their original height, this place began to feel and look a little more impressive.

Just beyond the main entrance, the narrow pathway (well, not truly narrow, but it feels such with the high walls) opened up to a vast expanse that was apparently the main plaza, almost a little too neat thanks to the restoration works.

What is now visible however, is the lovely artwork that borders the square, perhaps otherwise dull because of the monotony in just the single coloured, sandy floor and walls.

Showing off some of the charms of the ruins

Showing off the charm of the ruins

As we wandered, we had to be careful to dodge a multitude of ladders, as workers, mainly women, perched precariously atop the walls where they made repairs by hand, as they applied buckets of mud.

We got quite the surprise as we came to one corner, discovering how the Chimu lived here, for before us lay a sea of green (or more accurately, a pond of green).

This overgrown square, was in fact the lifeblood of Chan Chan, its well.

Chan Chan’s water source. Gold in the desert

Chan Chan’s water source. Gold in the desert

We wandered the complex some more, for the place is truly vast, and this despite only a fraction of it having been restored.

To wander further afield would likely cause lasting damage, so we did what we thought right and stuck to the main areas.

The colours of Chan Chan: Sand & blue

The colours of Chan Chan: Sand & blue

When we were done, we spied an opportunistic ice-cream vendor with over inflated prices, but given that by now we were quite hot, we succumbed, not to his charm, but simply to his product.

It wasn’t long lasting, but it did provide some relief for the walk back to the main highway…

Bidding farewell to the vast desert complex

Bidding farewell to the vast desert complex



* A local bus to Chan Chan cost us $1.40 Soles, per person, each way.

* Entrance into the ruins is $10.00 Soles per person, is valid for 2 days and also allows entrance into 3 other locations (including the Museo de Sitio which was closed at the time of our visit).

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3 Responses to If you can Chan Chan?

  1. It looks like you found yet another cool and way-off-the-beaten-path attraction Chris. And it looks like you had the place to yourselves. Given the vastness of the desert, no surprise there. We wish you all the best for a happy and healthy 2016 – and Happy Trails. ~James

  2. thatsbalogna says:

    Yay! Chan Chan was one of my favorite ruin sites in Peru. I wish we’d had more time to spend in Trujillo. We let the host at our hostel talk us into letting her be our tour guide, and we did the Chan Chan museum and ruins, and then the Sun and Moon Temples with her. We normally hate tours, but it worked out really well for us this time.

  3. Pingback: Huaca del Sol y Huaca de la Luna | theworldwithchrisandsarah

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