Barranca is a small coastal port in the Central Coast region of Peru, 190 km north of Lima. It has a population of about 140,000 people with an economy based largely on agriculture and fishing. It is a good headquarters for investigating local archaeological sites, particularly Caral, as well as environmental treasures such as the Albufera del Medio Mundo, a great sandy beach, a large local market, and excellent provincial cuisine.
There are combis along the coast to neighbouring towns, & frequent buses along the Panamerican Highway from Lima to Chimbote, Huaraz, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, Piura, Mancora & Tumbes.
combis to neighbouring towns & fewer taxis may be persuaded to offer a 1/2 day visit to Caral.
Moto taxis. S/1 anywhere in Barranca. It is a motorcycle attached to a metal framed carriage that holds 2-4 people. It is the most convenient and affordable to get from one side of town to the other, although, Barranca is small enough to be traveled on foot. Be aware that this fare is fixed regardless of whether you are going two blocks or from the town center to the beach. This mode of transportation does not allow you to make multiple stops. Mototaxies are prohibited from traveling on the Panamerican, though they sometimes do so anyway. Do so only if you are truly a thrill-seeker.
Taxis. While mototaxis are cheap, they are not the safest mode of transportation nor the most comfortable for taller people. There are local regular taxis as well that will cost one or two soles more, but are safer and a bit roomier. They will also take you anywhere and are permitted on the Panamerican.
You can also visit the sites of Aspero and Bandurria, much closer to the Panamerican and of a similar age to Caral, though not nearly as developed. The Fortaleza de Paramonga, just north of the town of Paticilca is also worth a visit to see an impressive southern outpost of the great Chimu Empire.
Albuferas del medio Mundo are coastal lagoons with high bird populations & rustic restaurants. The beach here is several kilometers long and there are never many people along it. Great place for beachcombing as well.
- Museo Simon Bolivar, Pativilca city.
- Puerto Supe port, Puerto Supe.
- Mercado Viejo, Barranca (next to Hotel Chavil). Fresh fruit and veggies. Enjoy a fresh made smoothie, but remember to request it be made with bottled water. Don't bring purses that may attract attention of pickpocketers.
- Fortaleza de Paramonga, Paramonga. Pre Inca civilization fort. Take a combi to Paramonga and then take a cab to the fort. Bring walking shoes.
Booklet, calendar, T-shirt etc at Caral
There are good restaurants at Barranca, but none at Caral.
Two of the best restaurants are on the beautiful beach in Barranca: Tatos renowned for Tacu Tato, a variant on tacu tacu with a base of lenguado; and
Gaviotas a quieter spot with excellent ceviche, seco de pescado, fried calamar/squid.
In town, there is a place called La Gula (most taxi drivers will know where it is), with all traditional dishes cooked over wood fires. There is terrific roasted pork, stewed baby goat, guinea pig, turkey, duck, all served with the worlds best beans and quinoa.
Pizzeria Don Goyo on the main drag has very good pizza with homemade mozzarella.
Go to Pativilca for yummy alfajores (cookies filled with manjar blanca).
Supe is locally known for its tamales of chicken or pork.
The chorizo of Huacho is another regional treasure.
There are basic hostels in Barranca, but none at Caral.
- Hotel Chavin, Jiron Castilla 222. A clean, safe, friendly hotel. You will enjoy great food, hot water, parking garage, the cleanest pool with playground. For $30-$35 US you can expect a comfortable night stay at a central location in Barranca.
- Casa Blanca On the beach there is the Casa Blanca, facing the ocean, clean and safe, lovely interior area.
- Chorrillos Beach which is a just barely off the beach but the rooms have views of the beach. Small quaint rooms.
Enjoy a beautiful walk on the long sweeping beach (divided into Puerto Chico, Miraflores and Chorrillos) and watch a beautiful sunset. Barranca has just made a major investment in cleaning up the beach community and it is now arguably the nicest swimming beach on the north coast. It is all soft sand and a full range of waves perfect for gentle swimming, body surfing or good Hawaiian board surfing. If you are an early riser, you will see the fishermen bring in the daily catch. Down at the far end of the beach where the fishermen have their boats, the Malabu Bar is one of the great 3rd world bars with eclectic music and the best imaginable views of the ocean and sunsets. It is definitely worth spending a night at one of the beach hotels. The mototaxis (three-wheelers) are cheap, but not the safest or most comfortable mode of transportation. Regular cabs are also available and a safer bet.
Sit down and catch a breeze at the Plaza de Armas (People's Square)and meet the locals and maybe enjoy a street comedy improv.
The Barranca market (not the Mercado Antiquo, but the Central Market) is one of the very best on the coast. People come from Lima just to shop for meat and fish. It is a typical indoor market with zones for fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruit, dry goods, etc. Don't look for a lot of Peruvian artesania, it's not there. Barranca has by and large not been discovered by tourists, but is a wonderful place to visit.
Vichama Raymi Each year during Fiestas Patrias (usually July 28) there is an all day fiesta and ceremony at the Fortaleza de Paramonga celebrating the myth of Vichama, the son of the Sun God. It is a great show with food booths, artesania and an elaborate pageant recreating the life of Vichama.
- Caral. An archaeological site over one of the world's most ancient cities, and the most ancient city in the Americas. It is 1 hour inland by unsealed but adequate road. Peru's government opened it for tourism, shortly before its inscription into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2009. Labelling & facilities are good once you get to the site.