Welcome to Huanchaco


Caballitos de Totora

Huanchaco’s defining characteristic is that a small number of local fishermen are still using the very same narrow reed boats depicted on 2000-year-old Moche pottery. The fishermen paddle and surf these neatly crafted boats like seafaring cowboys, with their legs dangling on either side – which explains the nickname given to these elegantly curving steeds, caballitos de tortora (little horses). The inhabitants of Huanchaco are among the few remaining people on the coast who remember how to construct and use the boats, each one only lasting a few months before becoming waterlogged. The fishermen paddle out as far as a mile, but can only bring in limited catches because of the size of their vessles (which now also integrate styrofoam for bouyancy). The days of Huanchaco's reed boat fisherman is likely numbered. Recent reports say that erosion and other environmental factors are affecting the beds where the fisherman plant and harvest the reeds, and many youngsters are opting to become surf instructors, professionals or commercial fisherman rather than following in their father's hard-paddled wake.


Top experiences in Huanchaco

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Travel guides

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Huanchaco activities

$41 Cultural & Theme Tours

Trujillo Combo Tour: Temple of the Dragon, Chan Chan and Huanchaco

After hotel pickup in Trujillo, your tour starts at Huaco el Dragon, the Temple of the Dragon — also known as Huaco del Arco Iris, or Temple of the Rainbow — just a 10-minute drive from central Trujillo. Built for religious and ceremonial purposes by the Chimú people, who lived in northern Peru from about 900 AD to the 1400s, the adobe pyramid is known for its intricate frieze murals. With your guide, walk around the temple and learn a bit about the history of and theories behind the site — the temple features carvings of a dragon (hence its name), and it’s believed that the temple was used during rituals to honor the rainbow (hence its other name). Continue your tour to your next site, the former Chimú capital of Chan Chan. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and was the center of Chimú culture and politics from approximately 900 to 1470, when the Incan Empire arrived and conquered the city. Explore the 7-square-mile (18-sq-km) archeological site with your guide, touring its array of shrines, cemeteries, reservoirs and ceremonial plazas. Learn about its structure — made from adobe brick and mud — and marvel at its expansive, walled design. You’ll visit one of the main features, Nik-An Palace, a complex that features ceremonial courtyards and walls adorned with friezes. Next, head about 15 minutes to Huanchaco, a fishing village and beach town known for its caballitos de totora (little reed horses), small boats made out of reed that have been used by Peruvian fisherman for 3,000 years. While you admire their interesting design, hear about their history and modern-day use from your guide.Your tour ends with hotel drop-off in Trujillo.

$115.50 Private & Custom Tours

Private Combo Tour: Trujillo Sightseeing, Archeology Museum, Temples of the Sun and Moon, Huanchaco and Chan Chan

After hotel pickup, your full-day tour of Trujillo and its surrounding attractions starts with a private city sightseeing tour. Head to the Urquiaga-Calonge House, a colonial mansion now owned by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, and then enjoy a panoramic driving tour to see city sights like Belem Church, Baanante House and the Central Market. While you drive, listen to commentary from your private guide about the city’s history and architecture. Next, visit the National University of Trujillo Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History (Museo de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia de la Universidad Nacional de Trujillo). With your guide, tour the museum to discover its collection of jewelry, ceramics, mosaics and other artifacts from Peru’s pre-Hispanic cultures such as the Chimú and the Moche. Then return to your vehicle to continue your tour, passing by sights like San Lorenzo Church, El Carmen Church, Campana House, the Superior Court, La Merced Church and Plazuela El Recreo.When the sightseeing tour ends, head about 15 minutes south of town to the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol) and Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna), collectively known as the Temples of Moche (Huacas de Moche). Built out of adobe brick by the Moche, the civilization that inhabited northern Peru from the 1st to 8th centuries, the temples served as military, religious and ceremonial centers. Explore the site with your guide, enjoying views of both temples and learning about their history and significance. Admire the impressive frescoes that adorn the walls of the Temple of the Moon, and marvel at the size of the Temple of the Sun, which is the bigger of the two.Next, continue your day trip to Huanchaco, a fishing village and beach town known for its caballitos de totora (little reed horses), small boats made out of reed that have been used by fishermen in Peru for 3,000 years. Learn about their history and interesting design, and then have lunch at a local seafood restaurant. Lastly, head to your final stop of the day, Chan Chan, the ancient capital of the Chimú people, who inhabited northern Peru after the Moche. This World Heritage site is South America’s largest pre-Columbian city and was the center of Chimú life from approximately 900 to 1470, when it was conquered by the Incas. Tour the 7-square-mile (18-sq-km) archeological site with your guide, admiring its shrines, burial sites, reservoirs and plazas. Learn about its structure of adobe brick and mud, and visit the Nik-An Palace, a complex that features ceremonial courtyards and walls adorned with friezes. Your tour ends with hotel drop-off in Trujillo.

$7899 18-to-Thirtysomethings

The Great South American Journey–Quito to Rio Adventure

Sometimes the slow road is the way to go. Hit the road from Quito to Rio with other young travellers and experience pretty much everything you can imagine in between. Hike the Inca Trail and discover the thriving Inca culture, cross the Salt Flats of Bolivia, dance the tango in Buenos Aires, and hit the beach in Brazil. This trip offers up lively cities, stunning scenery, and tons of adventure. 65 days, seven countries, three nights in the Amazon, and one adventure you’ll remember forever.

$3499 18-to-Thirtysomethings

Quito to La Paz Adventure

Really discover what South America is all about on this epic five-week journey through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. This adventure truly has it all – the Pacific coast, the awe-inspiring Amazon, and the archeological highlights and cultural treasures of the Andean highlands. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, tear it up on mountain bikes, raft wild rivers, catch big waves, and get your adrenaline pumping on exciting optional excursions. With local transportation and authentic accommodation, this adventure offers an intense blend of included activities and free time to explore on your own.

$1399 18-to-Thirtysomethings

Quito to Lima Adventure

Discover the best of Ecuador and Peru as you explore the Andes, Amazon, and Pacific coast on this 15-day adventure from Lima to Quito. Explore pre-Inca ruins, walk the colonial streets, and get an introduction to the Amazon and its people with time in a jungle community. Tear it up on mountain bikes, raft wild rivers, catch big waves, and get your adrenaline pumping on exciting optional excursions. You’ll have plenty of free time to explore these remarkable countries on your own and create the ultimate adventure.

$7599 18-to-Thirtysomethings

Colombia, Andes & Galápagos

Got two months? Want to make the most of them? There can be no better way to do so than one of the most sprawling of all our South American trips. Imagine 60 solid days spent exploring Colombia’s Lost City, ambling around Machu Picchu after conquering the Inca Trail in Peru, enjoying a homestay deep in the Amazon jungle, and snorkeling with sea lions in the Galápagos Islands. With a week of camping in the Galápagos included, there’s no possible way you’ll go home feeling like you missed out on anything in South America.