Situated in the northern highlands of Peru, Cajamarca is famous for its cheese, wine, and various pre-Incan archaeological sites that are often bypassed by the regular backpacker in favour of Machu Picchu in the south. With a variety of accommodation options, including hostels and hotels, this little gem is worth the detour for a day or two of exploring.
Within the city centre, visitors will never be at a loss with what to do with their time, as many tourist attractions are within walking distance of most hostels. Visit the Convento de San Francisco to see the impressive display of Christian artworks and explore the catacombs and final resting place of the last Incan, Atahualpa, or purchase a Belen combination ticket for entrance into the Belen Church, Women’s Hospital, Archaeological Museum, Ethnic Museum and the Ransom Room.
Hit up one of the many stores selling a variety of cured meats, cheese, and wine, and make a picnic to take with you to Santa Apolonia, the giant hill in the middle of the city. There are beautiful views to be had at the top and a small church to see also.
Outside of the city, visit the Catarata de Plan Manzanas, a waterfall with beautiful hikes. Afterwards, soak away any aches with a trip to the hot baths of Banos del Inca. Reasonably priced, organized tours can also arrange for you to visit sites including Cumbe Mayo, a perfectly square cut, pre-Colombian aqueduct that really is an engineering feat with incredible views of the surrounding valley, or the Vetanillas de Otuzco, which are hundreds of holes cut into a cliff face and once housed the remains of the previous civilisation. Other points of interests include the stone statues of Kuntur Wasi, or the ‘calling of the cows’ at Collpa Farm.
In summary, Cajamarca is a beautiful city, if not just a little overcrowded, but with plenty of budget hostels and tourist attractions to take advantage of.
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