Perched on a mountaintop overlooking the small town of San Pablo, these seldom-visited pre-Inca ruins are well worth the trip from Cajamarca. The site is considered one of the cradles of Andean culture; four distinct cultures used the area for their ceremonies, with the first constructions taking place around 1100 BC. The main structure is a large U-shaped temple consisting of three elevated platforms around which are located numerous tombs.
While the ruins are not the most spectacular in the region – apart from the walls and central plaza, most of the excavated structures have been filled in – the views from the site are spectacular.
The real drawcard here is the museum, located at the foot of the ruins in the hamlet of Kuntur Wasi. It displays many of the fascinating relics unearthed by archaeologists at the site.
Kuntur Wasi is just outside the sleepy town of San Pablo. A mototaxi (three-wheeled motorcycle rickshaw taxi) from San Pablo to the museum costs S3. The archaeological site is a steep 800m hike up the trail behind the museum.
Combis (minibuses) to San Pablo (S10, 1½ hours) depart regularly from the small terminal on Jirón Angamos, in front of Grifo Continental in Cajamarca. The last van back leaves San Pablo at 5:30pm; you may want to reserve your place in advance.