12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Peru’s Pachacamac on Your Next Trip

Pachacamac | © Gustavo M / Flickr
Pachacamac | © Gustavo M / Flickr
Photo of Harry Stewart
15 September 2017

Often overlooked by travelers, Pachacamac receives just a smattering of visitors each day; this is something of a tragedy, as this breathtaking site is of utmost historical importance to the region. Not convinced? Here are 12 reasons why Pachacamac is worth the effort.

It’s really close to Lima

It’s only about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from downtown Lima, meaning an entire tour can be done and dusted in just three or four hours. Budget travelers with more time can jump on the southbound San Bartolo bus at Grau for just 3 PEN (US$0.90) and hop off right at the gate.

Grau, Avenida Miguel Grau, Lima, Peru

Pachacamac | © LWYang / Flickr

The site is huge

Covering some 600 hectares, Pachacamac is nothing short of enormous. Of course, it’s not necessary to visit every square inch of the site, although those after a bit of exercise could spend hours wandering the complex in awe. To give a better indication of the scale, an estimated 50 million bricks were used in its construction.

Pachacamac (Peru) | © Thiago Melo/Flickr

It’s really, really old

Some 1800 years old, according to the best archaeological estimates. That’s almost as old as Jesus!

The site is pre-Inca

The Moche and Huari people constructed most of Pachacamac long before the arrival of the Inca. Travelers in Peru see dozens of Inca sites on their trip, so why not check out some of the country’s other indigenous history as well?

Brickwork | © Bruno Girin/Flickr

It has an abundance of pyramids

Pachacamac is absolutely chock-full of pyramids. Although originally thought to have been used for religious purposes, archaeologists later determined them to be the homes of noblemen and priests.

And some amazing temples too

Built around the time of Inca occupation, the mammoth 30,000-square-meter (323,000 sq ft) Temple of the Sun is fascinating for its historical significance and sheer enormity.

Temple of the Sun | © Steven Damron/Flickr

It was dedicated to the creator god

Known as Pacha Kamaq, which translates to “Earth Maker,” the creator god is the most important figure in Moche mythology. Such was Pacha Kamaq’s prestige that the Inca actually adopted him into their own belief system, declaring him the child of the ever-powerful sun god known as Inti.

There used to be human sacrifices

Although there is no concrete evidence, archaeologists have good reason to believe human sacrifices were carried out at the site. They have found mummies with various offerings, as well as cotton string wrapped tightly around their necks, a strong indication these grizzly practices did, indeed, take place.

Site of human sacrifice riturals for the Incas | © LWYang/Flickr

Learn some bizarre mythology

One legend, for example, states that Pacha Kamaq created the first man and woman but forgot to feed them, resulting in the man’s death (oops). The woman was understandably unimpressed, so she prayed to Inti to request godlike status as the mother of all people on earth. Her wish was granted, and she subsequently started popping out kids like crazy. Pacha Kamaq didn’t get along with these new offspring, so he began killing them off, one by one. Eventually, one heroic child gave Pacha Kamaq a monumental beatdown and threw him into the sea. Feeling humbled, Pacha Kamaq decided to cease his murderous ways and became the God of Fish instead.

Meet the Peruvian Hairless Dog

It may not exactly be cute, but the Peruvian Hairless Dog is so important to Peru it was declared part of the national patrimony. These guys wander around Pachacamac like they own the place, so an encounter is essentially guaranteed.

Peruvian hairless dog | © gomagoti / Flickr

It costs 15 Soles

That’s about US$4.50. Compare that to Machu Picchu, which costs at least 10 times more.

It has a fantastic attached museum

The on-site museum showcases a number of artifacts recovered from the region, accompanied by detailed historical information in both English and Spanish.

Museum of Pachacamac | © Rainbowasi / Flickr