Otuzco: Peru’s Faith Capital

The small provincial mountain town of Otuzco is only two hours away from Trujillo, making it the only place in Peru where you can go coast-to-Andean peaks in such a short amount 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 of the town cathedral. This patron saint is the impetus behind the popular Peruvian pilgrimage on December 15 (one of South America’s most important), when pilgrims of all ages leg it the 73km from Trujillo as a test to 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 trip itself is worthwhile (we mean the drive, of course), 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 A few inexpensive restaurants serve Peruvian food – Restaurante Otuzco has a good reputation with locals.

Tours Pacifico heads to Otuzco from Trujillo (S6 to S8, 1½ hours) six times daily. You can pick up a colectivo to Huamachuco (S10, 3½ hours) at the crossroads 3.5km south of town. They pass at 10am, 2:30pm and 8pm. A taxi to the crossroads is S1.