Wednesday March 12th – Supe to Casma
Woke up to another scorcher of a day, today we would head to Casma, a six hour drive north of Supe. Heading over to the shared washroom in the small courtyard of our hostal I realized that my face was burning. I shouldn’t have been surprised looking into the mirror and finding my face the color of a Coca Cola bottle. When I come to Peru I usually don’t use sunblock and just let myself tan into my normal brown, those times had not brought me to Caral though which worked its magic on me.
Maycol and I spent about 3 hours waiting for a ride in the Plaza de Armas of Supe where we would then head to Casma. Sitting around in the sun without any sunblock was smart on my part, not that I cared much, when it got uncomfortable we´d head over to a little shop and buy some Inka Kola and some Ice Cream, then we’d head back out in the plaza and hang out under a tree and chat up the locals.
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Slowly but surely our skill of flagging down cars by showing some skin worked. We headed off towards Casma that afternoon passing the lively town of Barranca where we should have stayed the night. The town has a great beach where you can camp out, call it an opportunity missed and experience gained.
We reached Casma in the late afternoon and it remains the hottest town we’ve visited. Even though it’s dry out I’m sure it was a good 95 degrees fahrenheit. We stayed at my cousin Olga’s house that night which is under construction and had the whole place to ourselves even though there was no electricity.
The Vibrant City of Casma
Casma, often referred to as the “Land of the Eternal Sun,” is a city nestled in the coastal desert of Peru. Located approximately 330 kilometers northwest of Lima, it serves as the capital of the Casma Province. As the third most populous city in the Ancash Region, it boasts an estimated population of 29,343 as of 2015. The city sprawls across the lower Casma Valley, covering an expansive area of 1,205 km^2. The name “Casma” is believed to have its origins in the extinct Quingnam language, hinting at the rich tapestry of cultures that once thrived in the region.
Historical Significance and Archaeological Wonders
Casma is surrounded by some of the world’s most significant prehistoric monuments, primarily located in the Casma and Sechin valleys. Sites such as Sechin, Chanquillo, Mojeque, and Las Aldas stand as silent witnesses to the ancient civilizations that once flourished here. In 2008, archaeologists made a groundbreaking discovery at Sechin Bajo, unearthing a stone and adobe ceremonial plaza dated to be 5,500 years old. This monumental find positions it as one of the oldest structures in the Americas. The pyramid, main square, and sunken courtyard complexes of Sechin Bajo stretch over a kilometer in length, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the past.
Casma’s Coastal Allure
Beyond its historical significance, Casma’s proximity to the Pacific coastline offers a range of picturesque beaches. La Gramita, El Litro, Punta el Huaro, and Tortugas are just a few of the coastal gems that beckon visitors. The city’s strategic location on the coast might have played a pivotal role in its ancient history. The absence of a fresh water source near Las Aldas, an archaeological site south of the Casma River, suggests that its inhabitants might have traded seafood and other marine resources with inland urban centers, fostering a vibrant exchange of goods and culture.
Thursday March 13th – Sechin
The next day we headed out for the ruins of Sechin. New discoveries in the last few months have put Sechin on the map for Archeologists. A new temple at the complex has been carbon dated to be 5,500 years old, thats older than the pyramids of Giza, and although Sechin is not a complex city like Caral it is no less significant. On the way to the ruins which is only about 10 minutes from Casma we passed some huge sand dunes which made me very excited about the thought of the massive dunes we will be sandboarding next week in Huacachina.
Sechin is another one of the many archeological sites throughout Peru that gets very little attention due to the cyclopean Machu Picchu where all the tourists flock. We once again had these ruins to ourselves and had a look around. Unfortunately the temple that had made the news a couple weeks ago remains closed to the public and is actually being reburied in order to preserve it. They do this to avoid the fate of another work of ancient Peruvian art that was found near Sechin, the heads below are replicas the originals were destroyed by earthquakes and rain.
The main complex itself is huge and its outer walls are covered in art dating back to 3,000 BC.
My time is almost up here at a small internet cafe in Chiclayo, I catch my bus back to Lima in about 2 hours, it’s a 14 hour bus ride in, so I’m going to get some Arroz Chaufa and head out. I leave you with this video of the climb up yet another mountain to get a better view of Casma. I´ll try to finish up days 3 and 4 before Friday, oh and Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day!!
Founder of Karikuy, an organization in Peru that brings travelers to visit and explore the country. Julio also runs the Karikuy Volunteer program and is the editor of this blog. Julio likes to write about his adventures in Peru as well as Peruvian folklore, mysteries and secluded locations.