Cajamarca is a city which can be found in the northern region of Peru. It stands at about 2750m above sea level and is an old city that was previously dominated by the Incas. It is typically the place where Atahualpa, the chief Inca was seized, ransomed and subsequently executed. It was the famous conquistador Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro who killed Atahualpa in the year 1532. Hualgayoc is located in close proximity to Cajamarca. Recently, some silver mines were found in the territory.
Due to the proximity of Hualgayoc to Cajamarca, the status of Cajamarca was upgraded to a city. In recent years during the gold mine boom, Cajamarca was the richest region of Peru with some considering it to have more gold that most countries on the planet. However, due to unrest and protests the mines were abandoned and currently Cajamarca is one, if not, the poorest region in Peru, 2019. The people of Cajamarca are miners by trade, they also engage in farming, manufacturing and tourism. To look at the city today you would not think this is the case. Ok, so what can you do in Cajamarca?
Incas and their baths
This is one of the main activities people do, they even have hotels such as “La Laguna Seca” which have the hot springs running through their grounds which enable people to use them in their jacuzzis and pools. This is much better than the Inca baths themselves, in my opinion. City tours that include the Inca baths include a visit to when Atahualpa who was the chief Inca, he has a spot which was only for him, a stone pool where you can visit. It is nothing out of the ordinary, just an old system where both hot and cold water comes in and goes out the other side. Still worth the visit as it is part of the city tour. The steam from the sulfurous as well as chloride waters in the river can be seen rising. Below you can see the original Inca hot springs, of course they renovated them to make them look better, but these places are where they used to bath. Of course today the water is about 60º, so only good for boiling eggs.
Another place to visit is the “Ransom Room” it was basically a stone room, which was used to house the captive Atahualpa, while he told the Spanish where to get most of the gold and silver, mainly from Cusco, but it is just a room with a story you are told are you go to visit with your tour guide. Again, nothing fancy, just good old history! In the end the Spanish killed him! Enough said!
The Granja Porcorn is a zoo, a farm and a place to eat, relax and enjoy the fresh air. Again, it is close to 3,000m above sea level, a little higher than Cajamarca itself. Here you follow a route with your guide who will take you around so you can see all the animals. Apparently it being a “farm” there are some farming activities you can do but my 3 times visiting the place I never say this take place. The guys who run or own the place are very religious, if you understand Spanish you will see lots of quotes from the bible of the jehovah witness. I am not into that, but just to throw it into the mix. However, the nicity of this place is to enjoy the green areas and the smell of nature and to see some animals, always great for kids. They also make cheese, and other dairy products, which are very organic and full recommened to buy. Since I live in Peru, I can get a good few things, but if you are just visiting, then try the manjar blanco and yogurts, quite yummy!
Ventanas de Otuzco
This place is quite amazing to think how things were done back in the day and again the Spanish coming to raid and destroy. The good thing is that it is only 7km from Cajamarca city centre so getting there is quite fast. It is a Cemetery that existed before the Inca period and predates the Culture of Cajamarca, with a probable influence of the Wari empire. There are hundreds of openings which appear like windows are cut in the volcanic stone. So, according to what we were told, was that the Spanish arrived and ransacked the “graves” as the Wari “buried” their dead with gold and silver and things of value as they believed they would be able to use them in the new world. So, of course the Spanish took their possessions and through the bodies away.
The Stone Forest of Cumbemayo
The stone forest is located at Cumbemayo. While Cumbemayo is just 20km away from Cajamarca. Visitors can pay a visit to the Cumbemayo complex. There is an archaeological site which had many theological formations that are called the, “Stone forest”. More interesting, several of these fascinating rock formations appear to imitate the silhouettes of devoted friars (in which it was appropriately named “giant friars” or “frailones”).
Also, the complex is equipped with an aqueduct, which is regarded as one of the most excellent achievements of hydraulic engineering in the Pre-Columbian America. Also, at the location, visitors can discover a Sanctuary which is a cliff that resembles the head of a human giant, and also caves which have cave carvings in addition to cave paintings. This place as mentioned above is 20km from Cajamarca but it feels like you are in Lord of the Rings or something alike. Again, your tours will cover all of these places are Cajamarca is not really that far away.
Celendin is a quiet town that is located in the Cajamarca Department in Peru. It is thought of as being among the most gorgeous towns in the Andean locality of Peru. Among the tourist attractions in the city are religious highlights such as the statue of Christ the redeemer. You can get the fascinating straw hats at the Saturday market, or you can visit the outstanding El Cornelio waterfall. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of the Chullpas De Oxamarca, which is a series of Chullpas or funerary towers found in the Western part of the river Maranon. When you get to Celendín, you will see a massive mountain in front of the city. You have to go up and get the view of the other side. It is amazing, however, you will need to get a taxi and get him to wait or rent a car in Cajamarca as the drive is about 2 hours to Celendín. As you come into the city you will see a massive statue of the typical hat worn by the locals. If you are into that stuff go for it!!
Cajamarca has a lot of places to visit, it just really depends on how much time you have to visit these places. I would recommend at least 5 days. But each to their own. Thanks for reading!