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North Coast/Peru

Introducing North Coast

Southern Peru can keep its Machu Picchu. The unruly northern coast is flush with enough ancient chronicles to fill a library of memoirs, and boasts beaches and surf that are the envy of Peru. Here, the coastal desert spreads out from Lima all the way to Ecuador as the Pan-American Hwy heroically divides restless sand dunes and burly cliffs from the Pacific Ocean’s belligerent waves.

This heaving coastline is scattered with more antediluvian ruins that you can poke a pre-Inca civilization at. The few travelers who manage to slip the familiar clutches of the Gringo Trail and venture this far north scratch their collective heads at the 5000-year-old remnants of the Americas’ oldest civilization. They drool at the gold-laden million-dollar treasures buried in long-forgotten pyramids and tombs, and listen to tall tales of modern-day treasure hunters clashing wits with archaeologists in a race to uncover the untold wealth of the region.

Occasional oases of bottle green farmland lie scattered along the coastline, and animated colonial towns will doff their collective campesino (peasant) hats to all who make the effort to visit. Meanwhile, the graceful surf that continually pounds the coast has had surfers board-waxing lyrical for years, while the enduring sunny months and frisky seaside resorts beckon modern-day sun worshippers to the coast’s sandy shores.