The Moche Route, a fascinating look into a pre-Colombian coastal culture
May 6, 2016
Vast adobe pyramids, royal tombs and XXX-rated ceramics, the Moche have left archaeologists and visitors a rich patrimony of sites and artifacts to explore.
The Moche route, along Peru’s northern Pacific coast, also provides a pleasant contrast to the Incas’ Andean legacy, with many Moche destinations near beautiful windswept beaches and world-class surf breaks.
Ever since the Spanish first arrived on South America’s Pacific coast in the early 16th Century, it has been the Incas who have dominated Western imaginings of traditional Andean life. But the truth is that the Inca Empire barely existed for 200 years, and was just the chronological climax of millennia of pre-Colombian civilization in and around the Andes that threw up cultures as varied as those of the Mediterranean basin.
One of the most fascinating is the Moche, who inhabited a 200-mile stretch of modern day Peru’s northern coast, and left behind a series of monuments that have become the focus of the “Moche Route”, a series of award-winning museums and archaeological sites that are no less fascinating, but far less visited, than the Inca ruins in and around the Sacred Valley.
Probably best known for their sexually explicit ceramics, the Moche were a complex culture with a high standard of living, based on the abundant fish and seafood from the Pacific and a sophisticated system of agriculture that used irrigation systems that made the most of Andean run-off. Today, the highlights of the “Moche Route” include the Huacas, or Pyramids, of the Sun and the Moon, vast adobe structures, with well-preserved colorful friezes showing geometric patterns and feline deities, which have yielded up countless royal tombs. The former was the largest pre-Colombian man-made structure in the Americas.
Another breathtaking highlight is the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan, once voted Latin America’s best museum. Treasures found here include a gilded deity, half-man, half-crab, and half-a-meter tall, dating from 100AD. But the Moche Route has some pretty wonderful other attractions to offer visitors once they are saturated with museums and ruins. The area’s regional cooking, including lots of seafood, is rightly celebrated, while the windswept beaches are spectacular and the surf breaks at nearby Chicama and Pacasmayo have what are repeated to the world’s longest waves.
To visit the Moche route as part of your unique, individually tailored itinerary, contact the Peru Empire Company at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +51-1-700-5100 or, if you are in the US, 347-713-7030/34.