Ooooh dear, what can you say about Salaverry and Trujillo (pronounced Traheo)- it is a bit of a shock to the system. At first I just could not understand the landscape, where the mountains covered in snow? It was confusing and it didn't really get much better once off the boat. Salaverry itself is a dump and looks like a bomb has gone off there, but it is a place full of ancient culture, and after all this was what this trip was about, discovering and learning about South America, its history and its lands. Just about everyone you spoke to had the same feeling about it and it is definitely not a place to go it alone on a tour or by taxi. The port was a working port with nothing exciting about it and no shopping etc so you really have to do an excursion here or stay on the boat.
We really wanted to see Chan Chan Citadel which was the capital of the Chimu Empire and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We had learnt a lot about this culture prior to going and this was a highlight tour for us.
We did the Chan Chan Citadel, Huaca (pronouned whahaka) Dragon & Reed Boats tour. The landscape on this tour is hard work, very dirty and very steep inclines, but once you got into these sites they were pretty impressive (no Ephesus or Pompeii mind you), but extremely interesting and quite overwhelming with fantastic stone carvings in extremely large compounds depicting the life and times of the Chimu both at Chan Chan and Huaca Dragon - these are well maintained and preserved sites. The history was extremely well told by our tour guide, who made sure it was kept interesting and relevant. Take water with you as it is very dry and hot, there is a small shop at Chan Chan for shopping and of course there is the token photo opportunity with the Chimu Chief in the square.
So after a hectic hot morning of ancient site discovery we headed off to Huanchaco beach and to see the traditional reed boats which have been used in this area for fishing for hundreds of years. The beach area is a breath of fresh air in Salaverry and Trujillo as the main street is quite up market (for the area that is) for a few hundred meters and the beach area renowned for surfing quite alive even though the sands are black. Lots of street vendors here for your souvenirs and the reed boat demo was great - well done. Entertainment on the beach through dancers and flute playing added to the more upbeat environment.
One of the things we noticed here was that no buildings where completed, similar to Egypt - this is course is generally about once finished you have to pay taxes, and it allows for new generations to build up on the one piece of land. The problem with this is that the cities that have this usually look a mess given nothing is finished.
It is not a place I would be likely to ever recommend to go to but it did add to our overall experience in the area. As we were driving through the city we saw a coffin on the side of the street, all wrapped up with a name etc on it - it was little things like this that made it a unique experience and we did all laugh when our tour guide was talking about invaders. Invaders we all thought he meant 100's of years ago, but no, this is what they call the illegal immigrants - so it just goes to show one mans dumpster is another mans castle - and there are plenty of people wanting to upgrade to Salaverry. Would I have missed this port - no way but it also highlights why I like cruising, I had looked at Peru over lander holidays to Machu Picchu which took in areas such as Salaverry and Trujillo where they stayed here overnight - while I am glad I saw, I am glad I didn't have to stay here longer than we did.
The area though for its history is incredible and as I wrote at the beginning it was a premier site that we wanted to see and we were not disappointed in Chan Chan at all and probably would have liked to have spent longer here discovering this excellent site.