Pachacamac may not have the immensity and grandeur of Machu Picchu, but the archaeological complex has the importance noted in the Incan history. It is amongst the largest religious sites in the Peruvian Coast and a pilgrimage center in Peru in the olden days. This complex of ruins at the “foot of the Pacific Ocean” is located about 30 kilometers away from Lima, the capital of Peru.
As a religious and pilgrimage citadel, Pachacamac is home to several ancient Incan structures – temples, pyramids (about 17 have been excavated) and big plazas. It boasts of adobe and stone structures that were able to withstand thousands of years, and a superb panorama of the Lurin Valley and the Pacific Ocean.
In the Piles of Rubble and History
A significant portion of the ancient collection of past grandeur is nothing more than piles of rubble you may wonder what’s in it for a tourist like you. The huge ones have been excavated for the world to see parts that can still hold anyone in awe with the thought of how this ancient civilization was built.
Some of the highlights of a tour in Pachacamac are:
- Templo del Sol (or Templo del Inti): A climb to the top of the Templo del Sol or Temple of the Sun for a jaw-dropping view of the coast.
- Palacio de las Mamacuna: An exploration of this “House of the Chosen Women” The latter, however, was rendered a hazard to visitors after it was “heavily shaken” during an earthquake in 2007, so that it can only be appreciated from a safe distance.
- Templo Pintado: This Colored Temple has been made unique with its rich embellishments of murals. These were done at different periods, revealing a lot about the kind of life at different times in the Incan history. The site was “discovered” in 1938. Since its excavation, the original murals have been greatly deteriorated owing to weather elements. Its conservation using modern techniques was undertaken since 2009 through the efforts of the Museum of Pachacamac and Global Heritage Fund.
- Templo Viejo: This “Old Temple” is notably constructed with adobes and pyramids and one of the oldest pyramids in the site. It is home to the first oracle, which is why it earned the name “emple Viejo” or “Old Temple” of Pachacamac. This old structure was the seat of government from 200 to 700 AD.
If you are looking for an intimate way of experiencing Pachacamac, you can rent a bike in Lima, where you are most likely to have your base, if you are up to it. The road to these ancient ruins is bike-friendly, but there is a really wonderful alternative: riding along the coast of Miraflores.
Once you get to the site, you can get your ticket from the office. Be ready to explore the temples in two hours; it can be faster with a bike or a car rental. You may also take a bus or join group tours from Lima. You may consider taking a taxi from Miraflores if you want privacy.
If you join package tours, you will most likely have a sumptuous, homemade lunch at Los Ficus Farm right there at the Lurin River valley and a great time watching an exhibition of Peruvian Horses. Typically included in the tours is a visit to Barranco’s famous shop Dedalo, a classy handicraft gallery that sells artisan pieces by Peruvian artists.
Other Things You Can Do Around Lima
Very few people come here just to visit Pachacamac. Staying and enjoying Lima is generally the purpose of the visitors; they come here as a cultural activity or tour. If you are interested what’s in store for you in Lima, check out Sophia Guida’s 11 Reasons to Visit Lima, Peru posted on GoMad Nomad Travel Mag or Darren Alff’s 10 Fun Things To Do In Lima, Peru.
Commonly suggested activities, aside from exploring the ruins of Pachacamac, when you are Lima, Peru are:
- Paragliding, skating and playing soccer
- Riding a bike across Lima and nearby attractions (including Pachacamac)
- Touring the catacombs in Monesterio de San Francisco
- Visiting other notable ruins, such as Huaca Pucllana Pyramid in the heart of Miraflores
- Surfing the coastal waters of Miraflores and barranco
- Have a nightlife and hit the casinos
And while you are at cultural explorations and experiences, why not visit Machu Picchu, the most popular Inca city in the Peruvian history and one of the World’s 7 Wonders. Just remember, book in advance and get a guide from a Lima travel agency or right there in the gate.