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General Manager: PERUVIAN TOURS Y SERVICIOS SAC
General Manager: PERUVIAN TOURS Y SERVICIOS SAC

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Greenpeace don't have respect for the Peruvian Culture
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MACHU PICCHU 
Machu Picchu "old peak", is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level is an outstanding example of man's interaction with his natural environment, in the midst of a tropical mountain forest in an extraordinarily beautiful setting, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacutec (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.

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SACSAYHUAMAN INFORMATION
Sacsayhuamán is one of the most amazing Incan constructions for tourists. Its Quechua name means "satisfied falcon", it was the falcon that guarded the capital of the empire, since it was possible to overlook Cusco from the hill in where it was erected. If, as it is known, Cusco was designed with the shape of a lying puma, Sacsayhuamán would be its head, and the Coricancha would correspond to the feline's genitalia. 

It is said that the work was started by Pachacútec and continued by Túpac Yupanqui, even though some chroniclers state that it was Huayna Cápac who gave it the final touch. Inca Garcilaso de la Vega says that Apu Huallpa Rimachi was the main architect, and that Inca Maricanhi, Acahuana Inca and Calla Cunchuy successively took control of the works. 

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CARAL, THE OLDEST TOWN IN THE NEW WORLD
Sometime before 3200 BC, if not 3500 BC, something happened in the Norte Chico in Peru, an agronomical no-go area, where hardly anything grows. This, however, is the site where the oldest traces of a “genuine civilisation” – pyramids included – were found in America. 
Here, at least 25 large ceremonial/residential sites have so far been found, of which Caral has become the most famous. The North Chico, roughly 100 km north of the Peruvian capital Lima, consists of four narrow river valleys, from south to north, the Huaura, Supe, Pativilca, and Fortaleza. The ancient pyramids of Caral predate the Inca civilisation by 4000 years, but were flourishing a century before the pyramids of Gizeh. No surprise therefore that they have been identified as the most important archaeological discovery since the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911.

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Colca Canyon and Colca Valley
42 km / 26 miles west of the town of Chivay the capital of the province of Caylloma - Arequipa (1 hour by car)
This is one of the deepest places on the planet, reaching a depth of 3400 meters / 11.155 feet at the lowest point in the location of Canco. On the right side, it is flanked by the Chila Cordillera (Bomboya, Serpregrina, Mismi, Queshihua) and on the other by Mount Hualca Hualca, Sabancaya, and Ampato. You can see Mount Ubinas and beautiful Mount Coropuna in the distance.

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Nazca Lines and Cahuachi Ceremonial Center
The Nazca Lines are located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). The desolate plain of the Peruvian coast which comprises the Pampas of San Jose (Jumana), Socos, El Ingenio and others in the province of Nasca, is 400 Km. South of Lima, covers an area of approximately 450 km2, of sandy desert as well as the slopes of the contours of the Andes. They cover nearly 400 square miles of desert. Etched in the surface of the desert pampa sand about 300 hundred figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes most clearly visible from the air.

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The Chimu Kingdom, with Chan Chan as its capital, reached its apogee in the 15th century, not long before falling to the Incas. The planning of this huge city, the largest in pre-Columbian America, reflects a strict political and social strategy, marked by the city's division into nine 'citadels' or 'palaces' forming autonomous units.

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ENJOY PERU: GASTRONOMY AND TOURIST PLACES 8 Days 7 nights
LIMA, CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU, HUAYNAPICCHU 

ITINERARY

Day 1 LIMA PICK UP
Upon arrival reception and transfer to the select hotel - overnight (no meals)

Lima City - Peruvian Gastronomy

Day 2 ENJOY LIMA: CITY TOUR, LUNCH, GOLD MUSEUM AND DINNER SHOW
After the breakfast you will be picked up from you hotel. The excursion starts at 9:30 am. and offers the best combination of the different attractions in Lima and its three historical periods: pre-Hispanic, colonial and contemporary. In Lima, there were several different pre-Columbian cultures which are dated thousands of years back. Lima was part of the Inca Empire until was founded by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro on the 18th. of January, 1535. During our guided tour we will travel along its millenary history.

ANCESTRAL LIMA. At the Huaca Pucllana, an archaeological precint build in the IV century A.C., we will have a panoramic view of this magnificent ceremonial and administrative centre which was considered by the Incas a holy village. We will learn about the life and rituals of its ancient inhabitants and admire its typical pyramidal building, very characteristic of sacred pre-Hispanic edifications which were adored in the coast of Peru.

COLONIAL LIMA. The Peruvian Viceroyalty was the most important one in the Spanish Empire and Lima was its capital. The highlights of its historical centre are its architecture and the urban design of the city, found in the old streets filled with colonial houses adorned with Moorish-style balconies. Our trip includes the Paseo de la Republica (Promenade of the Republic), Plaza San Martin (San Martin Square) and the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), with their different buildings: Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), Palacio Arzobispal the (Archbishop's Palace), the Basilica Catedral (Cathedral Basilica) and the Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace). We will enter the monumental Convento de San Francisco (Convent of Saint Francis), which displays the biggest collection of religious art in America. We can admire the Choir Room and the Monks’ Library, the Sacristy, with its collection of Zurbaran and Rivera paintings. The Big Patio of the Main Cloister, decorated with Seville tiles from the XVI century, its beautiful Moorish arches and its subterranean crypts known as The Catacombs, where you will feel the presence of Lima's colonial past.

CONTEMPORARY LIMA Visit to the most traditional residential areas in the capital: The Olive Grove of San Isidro, Miraflores and Larco Mar, distinctive tourist centre of contemporary Lima.
After the tour transfer to you hotel.

Lunch: You will enjoy our coastal cuisine, you will discover a rich variety of marine products in the hands of peruvian chefs.

Gold Museum
You will know the most famous collection of gold in Perú.
An important private collection of gold pieces from various pre-columbian cultures some of which are over 2000 years old.

Lima Gold Museum

Night: Dinner buffet and tipical dances show (breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 3 LIMA / CUSCO CITY TOUR - CENTER QOSQO OF NATIVE ART (Inca's Dance and Music)
You will be picked up from your hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco upon arrival reception and transfer to the select hotel, morning at leisure to acclimatize to the altitude. In the afternoon 1:00 pm you will be taken on a city tour and visit a local archeological sites, the Cathedral, Koricancha, Sacsayhuaman and surroundings returning later afternoon 5:30 pm to your hotel around and enjoy the hospitality of the local people.
Night: You will pick up from your Hotel to go to CENTER QOSQO OF NATIVE ART (Inca's Dance and Music) 
After show, you will go at the Restaurant "El Truco" to enjoy a dinner of Cusco cuisine.(breakfast and dinner included)

Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo.

Day 4 CUSCO FREE DAY
Explore the city on your own! 
Enjoy an day off in Cuzco. Relax, look around, and admire what you see. 
Accommodations in Cusco. (breakfast included).

Day 5 SACRED VALLEY, PISAC, OLLANTAYTAMBO AND CHINCHEROS
After breakfast at 8:00 am you will be taken through the Inca Sacred Valley where life has remained almost unchanged for 500 years. You will visit the impressive village of Pisac and the Indian market, enjoy the beautiful handicrafts on sale and wonder at the many ethnic tribal costumes worn, not just for tourists, but as part of their heritage by the local people. The tour also include the visit to Ollantaytambo fortress and the Chinchero Market Before returning to your hotel in Cusco late afternoon (around 6:30 pm) (breakfast and buffet lunch included)

Ollantaytambo

Day 6 MACHU PICCHU 2days 1 night by train
Early morning 5:30 am and after breakfast, we'll depart to the train station to our journey to Machu Picchu on Vistadome Train (4 hours) at 9:40 am you will arrive to the Aguas Calientes Town from where you will go by bus to the Archeological site (20 minutes); Once there where you will have a guided tour with an English speaking professional guide follow by some time at leisure. You can stay in the area or relax in the hot springs near the Aguas Calientes town (entrance to hot springs not included) Overnight in your Hotel (breakfast, box lunch and dinner included)

Day 7 MACHU PICCHU AND HUAYNAPICCHU - CUSCO
Early after breakfast, you will visit the citadel when the full magnificence of the site reveals itself in all its majesty. You will hike up to Huaynapicchu, the pyramid-shaped peak that overlooks Machu Picchu (entrance and bus fee for this day included on the rate)
Afternoon after lunch, return to Cusco where you will arrive around 7:30 pm. (breakfast and lunch included)

Machu Picchu and Huaynapicchu

Day 8 RETURN TO LIMA - INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURES
Pick up from your hotel and transfer to the airport - end of our services (breakfast included)

INCLUDE:
Domestic airfares, nights at select hotel based on double occupancy, all transfers, professional bilingual guide service, entrance fee, transportation and meals as specify in the program.

NOT INCLUDED:
International airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, extra expenses for flight cancellations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls, reconfirmation of international flights and items of personal nature.

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INCAS EMPIRE 14 Days 13 Nights
LIMA, NAZCA LINES, AREQUIPA, COLCA CANYON, CUSCO, MACHU PICCCHU, PUNO, TITICACA LAKE 

ITINERARY

Day 1 LIMA PICK UP
Upon arrival in Lima reception and transfer to the select Hotel - overnight

Day 2 LIMA CITY TOUR 
This tour could start in the morning 9:30 am or 2:30pm. You will be picked up from you hotel. This excursion offers the best combination of the differents attractions in Lima and its three historical periods: pre-hispanic, colonial and contemporary. In Lima, there were several different pre-columbian cultures which are dated thousands of years back. Lima was part of the Inca Empire until was founded by the spaniard Francisco Pizarro on the 18th. of January, 1535. During our guided tour we will travel along its millenary history.

ANCESTRAL LIMA. At the Huaca Pucllana, an archaeological precint build in the IV century A.C., we will have a panoramic view of this magnificent ceremonial and administrative centre which was considered by the Incas a holy village. We will learn about the life and rituals of its ancient inhabitants and admire its typical piramidal building, very characteristic of sacred pre-hispanic edifications which were adored in the coast of Perú. 

COLONIAL LIMA. The peruvian Viceroyalty was the most important one in the Spanish Empire and Lima was its capital. The highlights of its historical centre are its architecture and the urban design of the city, found in thold streets filled with colonial houses adorned with moorish-style balconies. Our trip includes the Paseo de la Republica (Promenade of the Republic), Plaza San Martin(San Martin Square) and the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), with their different buildings: Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), Palacio Arzobispal the (Archibishop's Palace), the Basilica Catedral (Cathedral Basilica) and the Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace). We will enter the monumental Convento de San Francisco (Convent of Saint Francis), which displays the biggest collection of religious art in America. We can admire the Choir Room and the Monks’ Library, the Sacristy, with its collection of Zurbaran and Rivera paintings. The Big Patio of the Main Cloister, decorated with sevillan tyles from the XVI century, its beautiful moorish arches and its subterranean crypts known as The Catacombs, where you will feel the presence of Lima's colonial past. 

CONTEMPORARY LIMA Visit to the most traditional residential areas in the capital: The Olive Grove of San Isidro, Miraflores and Larco Mar, distinctive tourist centre of contemporary Lima.
After the tour transfer to you hotel. Overnight. (breakfast included)

Day 3 LIMA - NAZCA LINES ( FULLDAY)
You will be picked up from your Hotel in Lima at 6:30 am, and transfer to bus station. You will travel in tourist bus to Nazca. You will visit the Museum of the site. The Maria Reiche tomb. The lines, that represent some sort of vast astronomical pre-Inca calendar, are best seen from the air, we will take a half hour flight above the Lines (Airfare included), after the over flight we will take some time to rest and we will have lunch (included) before to travel to Arequipa. Upon arrival transfer to your Hotel. (breaksfast and lunch included)

Day 4 AREQUIPA
You will be picked up from your hotel at 2:30pm( City Tour will last 3 hours) you will visit the Historical Center , taking in the Plaza of Armas, the Jesuita Church of the Society of Jesus, the Santa Catalina Monastery, then visit to the Yanahuara Neighborhood, the beautiful colonial district, where we visit the "Mirador". (breakfast included). Overnight

Day 5 COLCA CANYON 2/1 (more information about Colca Canyon) 
A t 8:30 am, depart on a wonderful four hours bus trip to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world (3,400 mts.). On the trip we drive across Pampa Carnaubas in the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, inhabited by herds of vicuñas and alpacas. You will continuo to the plain of Patapampa (4800 ), the to the “ Mirador de los Andes”, where you ill overlooking the Chila’s Mountain Chain where there are many volcanos: the Mismi, Chucura, Misti, Chachani, Ampato, Sabancaya Y Hualca Hualca. The you will arrive at CHIVAY town where you will have lunch, in the afternoon you will visit the hot spring “La Calera” (entrance not included), and the ethnological Museum. Dinner and overnight in the selected Hotel. (breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

Day 6 CONDOR CROSS / PUNO
We leave early in the morning to the "Condor's Cross", where the biggest bird in the world can be usually seen flying. On the way back we visit the colonial towns and churches of Pincholo, Yanque, Achoma and Maca. Lunch at Chivay town restaurant. At 6:00 pm aprox. You will go to the selected hotel in Puno (breakfast and lunch included)

Day 7 UROS AND TAQUILE
We will pick you up from your hostel at 07.15 a.m. and we will go to our boat. Today we will visit the floating islands of Uros, located inside the bay of Lake Titikaka only nine miles away from the city (20 to 30 minutes of navigation). It is believed that the Uros were one of the first ethnic groups populating the Andean region. When the Spanish chroniclers encountered the Uros by the end of the XVI century, the Uros were still living on the lake in small reed-boats that they used as floating houses. Only in the early 60's, the Uros started to build small artificial islands with reeds for their homes. Then we will discover Taquile, the biggest island of the lake. Taquile has approximately 1,200 inhabitants. The people from this island have a Quechua origin and they are mostly small farmers. We will arrive in the northern dock of the island and we will start 1 hour hike as far as the main village of Taquile, where we will visit the plaza and the market. After lunch we will return to Puno from the main dock. We will arrive in Puno at 17:30 p.m. (breakfast and lunch included)

Day 8 PUNO / CUSCO
7:00am pick up from your hotel and transfer to the bus station to depart to Cusco 8 hours journey, on the way you will visit some archeological sites (Andahuaylillas, Raqchi, Pucara), arrival reception and transfer to select Hotel - overnight (breakfast and lunch included)

Day 9 CUSCO CITY TOUR PM
In the afternoon 2;00pm you will be taken on a city tour and visit a local archeological sites, the Cathedral, Koricancha, Sacsayhuaman and surroundings returning later afternoon 5:30pm to your hotel around and enjoy the hospitality of the local people (breakfast included)

Day 10 SACRED VALLEY, PISAC, OLLANTAYTAMBO, CHINCHEROS 
After breakfast at 8:45am you will be taken through the Inca Sacred Valley where life has remained almost unchanged for 500 years. You will visit the impressive village of Pisac and the Indian market, enjoy the beautiful handicrafts on sale and wonder at the many ethnic tribal costumes worn, not just for tourists, but as part of their heritage by the local people. The tour also include the visit to Ollantaytambo fortress and the Chinchero Market Before returning to your hotel in Cusco late afternoon (around 6:30pm) (breakfast and lunch included)

Day 11 MACHU PICCHU 2days 1 night by train
Early morning 5:30am and after breakfast, we'll depart to the train station to our journey to Machu Picchu on Vistadome Train. (4 hours) at 9:40am you will arrive to the Aguas Calientes Town from where you will have to take 20 minutes bus to the Archeological site; Once there where you will have a guided tour with an English speaking professional guide follow by some time at leisure, stay overnight in the area or town relax at the nearby hot springs (entrance not included) (breakfast included)

Day 12 MACHU PICCHU - CUSCO
Morning at leisure to explore by your own, you can visit the citadel early when the full magnificence of the site reveals itself in all its majesty, you will have the option to to hike up to Huaynapicchu, the pyramid-shaped peak that overlooks Machu Picchu (entrance and bus fee for this day not included on the rate) return to Cuzco where you will arrive around 7:30pm. (breakfast included)

Day 13 CUSCO - MUSEUMS, CHURCHES AND CENTER QOSQO OF NATIVE ART
Enjoy a visit of this magical city as you drive through the main streets with their Inca walls. Visit the San Pedro Local Market where you will see the real life of Cusco and then proceed to “San Blas”, the Artisans’ Neighborhood of narrow and high streets, beautiful little plaza, where the fibers of wool, the pieces of clay and the wood pieces turned into real art pieces. Continue to see the famous Twelve Angles stone, part of the largest Inca wall of Cusco, which used to be the Hatunrumiyoc (Big Stone) palace, built by Inca Sinchi Roca. This is an example of Inca skill with polygonal masonry. Center Qosqo of Native Art (Inca's Dance and Music) (breakfast and lunch included)

Day 14 TRANSFER TO LIMA
You will be picked up from your hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Lima - free afternoon (Breakfast included) - end of our services
Note: check out 11:00am  (Breakfast included)

INCLUDE:
Domestic airfires, nights at select hotel based on double occupancy, all transfers, professional biligual guide service, entrance fee, transportation and meals as specify in the program.

NOT INCLUDED:
International airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges,  extra expenses for flight cancellations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls, reconfirmation of international flights and items of personal nature.

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CARAL THE OLDEST TOWN IN THE NEW WORLD
 
Sometime before 3200 BC, if not 3500 BC, something happened in the Norte Chico in Peru, an agronomical no-go area, where hardly anything grows. This, however, is the site where the oldest traces of a “genuine civilisation” – pyramids included – were found in America.
Here, at least 25 large ceremonial/residential sites have so far been found, of which Caral has become the most famous. The North Chico, roughly 100 km north of the Peruvian capital Lima, consists of four narrow river valleys, from south to north, the Huaura, Supe, Pativilca, and Fortaleza. The ancient pyramids of Caral predate the Inca civilisation by 4000 years, but were flourishing a century before the pyramids of Gizeh. No surprise therefore that they have been identified as the most important archaeological discovery since the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911.
The first full-scale archaeological investigation of the region took place in 1941 in Aspero, when Gordon R. Willey and John M. Corbert of Harvard investigated a salt marsh at the mouth of the Supe. They found a big trash heap and a multiroomed building with no pottery and a few maize cobs under the pounded clay floor. They wondered how maize could have been cultivated in a salt marsh and why these people could have agriculture, yet no pottery. Willey and Corbett also found six mounds, some of them nearly five metres tall. They were catalogued as "natural eminences of sand". Thirty years later, Willey, in the company of Michael E. Moseley, revisited the site and realised that these "natural eminences" were in fact "temple-type platform mounds". He also realised there might have been as many as seventeen such mounds, all of which Willey had missed on his first exploration of the site. "It is an excellent, if embarrassing, example of not being able to find what you are not looking for", he commented later. As to its age: carbondating revealed that Aspero could go back to 3000 BC, whereby samples from a nearby site even revealed a date of 4900 BC. Those objective findings were nevertheless seen as impossible - far too old with "what was known" and hence not accepted.
Caral is located 14 miles inland from Aspero. Even though Caral was discovered in 1905, it was quickly forgotten as the site rendered no gold or even ceramics. It required the arrival of Ruth Shady Solis in Caral in 1994 before a genuine paradigm shift would occur. She is a member of the Archaeological Museum of the National University of San Marcos in Lima. Since 1996, she has co-operated with Jonathan Haas, of the American Field Museum. Together, they have found a 150-acre array of earthworks, which includes six large platform mounds, one twenty metres high and more than one hundred on a side. But Shady Solis did not make the same mistake Willey had made: she felt that the “pyramids” were just that: they were not natural hills, as some of her predecessor had catalogued the structures of Caral.
Her subsequent research led to the announcement, in the magazine Science on April 27, 2001, of the carbon dating of the site, which revealed that Caral had been founded before 2600 BC. The "impossible" carbondating results of Aspero now seemed more likely... and Caral had become the oldest city in the "New" World, older than the Gizeh pyramids.
 
What is Caral like? The site is in fact so old that it predates the ceramic period, the reason why no pottery was found. Its importance resides in its domestication of plants, especially cotton, but also beans, squashes and guava.
As mentioned, the heart of the site covers 150 acres and contains six stone platform mounds – pyramids. The largest mound measures 154 by 138 metres, though it rises only to a height of twenty metres; two sunken plazas are at the base of the mound and a large plaza connects all the mounds. The largest pyramid of Peru was terraced with a staircase leading up to an atrium-like platform, culminating in a flattened top housing enclosed rooms and a ceremonial fire pit. All pyramids were built in one or two phases, which means that there was a definitive plan in erecting these monuments. The design of the central plaza would also later be incorporated in all similar structures across the Andes in the millennia to come – thus showing that Caral was a true cradle of civilisation. Around the pyramids were many residential structures. One house revealed the remains of a body that was buried in the wall and appears to have been a natural death, rather than evidence of human sacrifice. Amongst the artefacts discovered are 32 flutes made from pelican and animal bones, engraved with the figures of birds and monkeys. It shows that though situated along the Pacific coast, its inhabitants were aware of the animals of the Amazon.
 
iHow did the culture begin? It is suggested that several small villages merged in 2700 BC, quite possibly based on the success of early agricultural cultivation and fishing techniques. The invention of cotton fishing nets, the cotton grown in the Supe valley, must have greatly facilitated the fishing industry. It is believed that this excess of food might have resulted in trade with the religious centres. But apart from an economic model of exchange, the new social model also meant that a labour force existed that had in essence little to do. This labour force could thus be used for “religious purposes”. Caral might have been the natural result of this process – just like the pyramids of Egypt seem to have been the result of an available workforce.
The discovery of Caral has therefore reintroduced a powerful enigma: at the same time, on two different continents, agricultural advancements created a new style of life. The available workforce that agriculture had created was reemployed in the construction of pyramids. This “template” is visible in Peru, Sumer and Egypt, all in the 3rd millennium BC. Coincidence, or evidence of design? Alternative researchers will certainly soon reopen this debate, but archaeologists steer well clear of it.
Caral is indeed hard to accept. It is very old. Still, its dating of 2627 BC is beyond dispute, based as it is on carbondating reed and woven carrying bags that were found in situ. These bags were used to carry the stones that were used for the construction of the pyramids. The material is an excellent candidate for dating, thus allowing for a high precision.
The town itself had a population of approximately 3000 people. But there are 17 other sites in the area, allowing for a possible total population of 20,000 people for the Supe valley. Indeed, the Caral archaeological team broke up to investigate some of the other sites, such as along the Pativilca River, the next river to the north, and the Fortaleza, just north of the Pativilca. All of these sites share similarities with Caral. They have small platforms or stone circles and all were major urban centres on par with Caral – though some of them were even older than Caral. Haas believes that Caral was nevertheless the focus of this civilisation, itself part of an even vaster complex, trading with the coastal communities and the regions further inland – as far as the Amazon, if the depiction of monkeys is any indication
In July 2006, Caral was opened for tourism, even though it had already received 7,338 visitors in 2003, 15,265 visitors in 2004 and 21,068 visitors in 2005. With the support of PromPeru, and its location being just two hours north of Lima along the easily accessible Pan-American Highway, this number is expected to rise in the coming years. It will continue to undergo a series of restorations that will provide an added value to the existing and future tourist circuits in the region.
But some of the other sites of Norte Chico are still the almost exclusive bailiwick of archaeologists. One site, Huaricanga, saw a first paper published in December 2004. The team of Haas, Winnifred Creamer and Alvaro Ruiz found evidence of people living inland from the coast as early as 9210 BC, with the oldest date associated with a city being 3500 BC. Other urban sites in the region are now dated as being older than Caral: Caballete at 3100 BC, Porvenir and Upaca at 2700 BC. Charles Mann writes how "individually, none of the twenty-five Norte Chico cities rivaled Sumer's cities in size, but the totality was bigger than Sumer."
 
Haas describes the civilisation of Norte Chico as the second experiment Mankind did with government: surrendering personal freedom and liberty to a centralised authority, which then apparently decided to create a ritual centre – a city, asking those who had surrendered their freedom to work hard – if not very hard – for this common or greater good. As to why this central government was created, speculation remains. The cities were not sited strategically, nor did they have defensive walls; there was no evidence of warfare. It seems that co-operation existed, because the population realised that co-operation would benefit the individual and the community as a whole. Though Haas and his colleagues put forward several "logical" reasons, Caral is primarily a religious cult centre. And no-one seems to dare to suggest the perhaps obvious reason: that these people built Caral, because of their belief and adoration of one or more deities.
That the workforce involved were not slaves or oppressed is supported by the archaeological evidence. Haas and Creamer believe that the city rulers encouraged the workforce during construction by staging celebratory roasts of fish and achira root. Afterward, the remains of these feasts were worked into the fabric of the mound. Alcohol is suspected of having been consumed, and music seems to have been played: at Caral, Shady's discovery of 32 flutes made of pelican wingbones tucked into a recess in the main temple provides the evidence for that conclusion.
The creation of a religous complex implies the existence of a pantheon. Little evidence has been uncovered of what these gods may have been, other than a drawing etched into the face of a gourd, dated to 2280-2180 BC. It depicts a sharp-toothed, hat-wearing figure who holds a long stick or rod in each hand. The image looks like an early version of the Staff God, a fanged, staff-wielding deity who is one of the main characters in the Andean pantheon, the deity that is figured prominently on the Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco, on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
 
For an unknown reason, Caral was abandoned rapidly after a period of 500 years (ca. 2100 BC). The preferred theory as to why the people migrated is that the region was hit by a drought, forcing the inhabitants to go elsewhere in search of fertile plains. The fact that the Staff God is found two millennia later elsewhere in Southern America shows that these people did not disappear; they merely moved elsewhere, and seem to have built other religious centres on their travels.
The harsh living conditions have since not disappeared. According to the World Monuments Fund (WMF), Caral is one of the 100 important sites under extreme danger. Shady argues that if the existing pyramids are not reinforced, they will disintegrate further and money from tourism, as well as private donations, will help preserve the site. Conservation will go hand in hand with exploration. And though Caral continues to steal the limelight, other nearby sites, such as Aspero, are older. Indeed, Aspero might one day lay claim to the title of the world's oldest city – the place where human civilisation began. Perhaps we might all once realise the irony of having labelled this continent the "New World".
Solis came to Caral looking for the fabled missing link of archaeology, a “mother city”. Today, she is still trying to convince people that Caral was indeed the oldest urban civilisation in the world. "The discovery of Caral challenged the accepted beliefs. Some historians were not ready to believe that an urban civilisation existed in Peru even before the pyramids were built in Egypt," she says. "This place is somewhere between the seat of the gods and the home of man."
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