Worth A Trip: Otuzco, Peru’s Faith Capital

The small provincial mountain town of Otuzco is only two hours' drive from Trujillo, making it the only place in Peru where you can go from coast to Andean peaks in such a short space of time. The cobblestone streets, cool weather and relaxed pace of life make this a great day trip or stopover on the mountain route to Cajamarca. The modern church here dramatically houses the Virgen de la Puerta (Virgin of the Door) outside its walls on the 2nd-floor balcony. This patron saint is the impetus behind the popular Peruvian pilgrimage on December 15 (one of South America’s most important), when people of all ages leg it the 73km from Trujillo as a test of their faith. What? Not impressed? Let’s not forget Trujillo is at sea level and Otuzco sits at a cool 2641m. The town’s conviction has earned it the title of Peru’s Capital de la Fe (Capital of Faith).

The drive itself is worthwhile, as you’ll be greeted by excellent mountain scenery through coastal subtropical crops and into the highland agricultural regions.

There are some modest places to stay, the best being the cheap Hostal Los Portales. Many small restaurants in the blocks around the plaza serve inexpensive Peruvian food.

Several bus companies run to Otuzco from Trujillo (S8 to S10, 1½ hours) between 5am and 9pm from Calle Prolongación Union; try Tours Pacifico or Transportes Virgen de la Puerta. You can pick up a colectivo to Huamachuco (S10, 3½ hours) at the crossroads 3.5km south of Otuzco.