Catch your combi from Mercado mayorista (ask INC nearby Iglesia de Belen) and it'll take you Tres Molinos were you can not only see how to make cheese and manjar blanco, but with luck they will let you take part in the preparation, even if its stirring the milk or putting the weights on the different type of cheese. The smell is so good, you'll find yourself picking on the cheese not before long...
Passing Otuzco, on the same highway is Combayo, a better conserved burial place because of its location. the Incas and Chachapoyas are thought to reach always for the altitudes to be closer to their Gods, for that reason Combayo is thought to be meant for royalty whereas Otuzco was meant for naturals.
3 hour walk from the city of Cajamarca itself. Just head pass Santa Apolonia, keep on heading away from Cajamarca and you'll eventually see the frailones, fraile shaped huge boulders, that make up Cumbemayo. Just a little pass it are the irrigation channels which date back to Pre Inca time.
Quite an experience and a lot better if you bring your tent and camp here, at night the wind sings as it goes thru the rocks and thousands of firebugs make the are between the boulders their rest area and create a Xtmas tree for your eyes only. Incredible.
The rocks are thought to be shaped that way because right after the arrival of Spagniols in Perú, it was the clergy who was robbing the pople of their gold, so the Sun God converted them in stone for everybody to see and point at the thieves. Some things never change...
Check with promperu (www.peru.info) for specific dates but every year in the month of feb-march carnavals take place in Cajamarca, capital of the peruvian carnival. Water, paint, flour, oil and anything you can get your hands on is fair game for a whole day as the town welcomes Ño Carnavalón (Mr. Carnival) and his wife, but celebrations dont end there (actually they dont even start there as the carnival starts with the birth of Ño sometime January) Cajamarca then wears its happiest face of the year and parties all the way to the wake and funeral of Ño to include a crying widow contest, it seems Ño had a wife in every one of Cajamarca's districts.
Not to be missed if in Northern Perú during the summer....
A simple half-day excursion you can do on your own is to take the micro from the market area of Cajamarca (around Calle Apurimac and Cal Jose Sabogal, ask the locals) to Ventanillas de Otuzco.
The Ventanillas de Otuzco are located just 8km from Cajamarca. These are a series of square or rectangular niches of 50-60cm in height, carved into the side of a cliff. Some of these niches reach a horizontal depth of 8 to 10 metres. These are actually part of an old cemetery of the Cajamarca culture.
Nice walk around the rock-face and you can appreciate the beautiful scenery around.
Cumbe Mayo is magical magical magical!! I highly highly recommend people to visit this place.
It is a pampa in the mountain region up at 3,500m above sea level where the Cajamarca culture from 3,000 years ago had built canals. These aqueducts run for 9km along the mountain tops, collecting water from the Atlantic watershed and redirecting it on its way to the Pacific Ocean. It is understood that these were constructed in around 1500 B.C, making them the oldest man-made construction in South America.
The gradient at a certain point is flat. So, the Cajamarca people built canals with right angles, instead of canals in a straight line. These right angles in the canals interestingly served two purposes. Firstly, they actually SLOW down the water to reduce erosion of the canals. Secondly, they SPEED up the water as it hits the right-angled wall thereby moving the water through the flat ground. Isn't this interesting??
But it is not just 'ruins' that are interesting. The whole area is pure magic. There are many impressive 'stone forest' which are natural volcanic rocks which have been shaped by erosion. Hence, they all look like tightly-packed... er... phallic-shaped mountains.
Many of these strange rock formations do look like something (besides t-h-a-t), if you use your imagination. One group is called 'Los Frailones' (big monks), like a group of robed friars departing from you. Another is a massive face. Then, there are rooster, monkey, etc...
There is even a rock structure standing pretty much on its own, which has a tiny tunnel through it. We took turns to squeeze through it.
Los Banos del Inca is a bathing complex taking the water from the sulphurous thermal springs.
Apparently, Atahualpa had come here *way back then* to nurse a festering wound and his bath is still there.
There are no common pools for dipping. All the baths are private and are priced slightly differently - 3 soles, 4 soles or 5 soles.
My suggestion is... do not take the cheapest one. This is because many people get this ticket but the bathers outnumber the available baths. So, you would have to wait.
There is a guy controlling the time used by each bather. When the time is up, he will go knock on the doors to get the people to come out. Then, the ones waiting will be assigned a bath. Trust me, when there is a queue but no line, it is bound to be complicated.
I got the 3 soles ticket (only for 1/2 hour) and my number was 206. There were more than 20 numbers to go, and 1/2 hour each, I might have to wait for 2 hours just to get a chance to bathe!
So, I upgraded to the 4 soles bath (just pay 1 sol more) which were located further down the facility and there were some available now.
The water was emptied each time the users leave the bath. I filled it entirely with hot water first just to kill off any germs, and then, I refilled the tub up with water of a temperature that I adjusted right to my liking. Perfect! The best place to sit and meditate good positive thoughts. Here, we were given about 1.5 hours before some guy came over to knock on the door to shoo you off. 1.5 hours was just fine.
At the end, you can go for massages, if you like.
Outside, there are open pools that are not for bathing, it seems, just decorative. The water temperature there looks quite high as there was a constant stream of steam vapours floating off. But what a sight.
Cajamarca is another town with an impressive Plaza de Armas with a striking 350-year-old fountain, topiary and gardens. The Cathedral and the San Francisco Church opoosite are both charmingly colonial.
Apparently, here is where Atahualpa was executed.
As usual, I love to sit at the plaza and observe the townfolks. Here in Cajamarca, the main style of the head-wear is a white tall hat with large brim. On market days, you will observe many villagers dressed with this hat, walking from all the surrounding countryside to buy and sell.
When you observe around you, you will notice that not far from the plaza stands a curious little hill that is right SMACK in the middle of the town.
The hill is Santa Apolonial hill. It can be accessed by road that goes round and round the hill. Or you can head there by walking from Calle Dos de Mayo. There is a steep stairway that prettily criss-crossed its way to the top of the hill.
From the summit, it is quite a captivating sight as you take in the charming town. Here, you can also visit the plaza where Atahualpa was ambushed.
Cajamarca is an attractive colonial town in the north of Peru, surrounded by pretty mountains and countryside.
What marks Cajamarca apart from all the other run-of-the-mill colonial towns of Peru is its place in history. In 1532, the 2 Incas royal brothers Atahualpa and Huascar had fought a battle for the Inca's throne. Atahualpa beat his brother who was left in Quito (in Ecuador). He was returning to Cusco when he stopped at Cajamarca.
At that time, Francisco Pizarro and his 168 soldiers who had been marching for weeks, met Atahualpa there. The Spanish priests duly delivered the "Requirement" which was basically a document that Spanish conquistadores read to the native population before attacking them, giving them a brief history of the world, skewed towards the rise of Christianity, and demanded that the natives accept the King of Spain as their supreme ruler blahblahblah...
Naturally, 'no habla espanol' Atahualpa refused and Pizarro had him captured, and wholesale massacred several thousands of innocent Inca bystanders and soldiers for good measure.
Captured, Atahualpa offered them a ransom for his freedom - a room filled with gold and silver. The Spanish gleefully accepted the offer, but murdered Atahualpa after collecting the treasures.
In Cajamarca's city tour, a room, known as El Cuarto del Rescate, or "The Ransom Room" can be viewed. This was Atahualpa's cell, not the ransom room. There is a red mark on the wall, said to be drawn by Atahualpa, indicating how much the room would be filled up with treasure.
La leyenda cuenta de un hombre q estaba tejiendo su gorro y en eso escucha un silbido y al voltearse ve una imagen del niño Dios, q a silbidos le hace entender q quiere q se lo lleve con el. Y asi lo hace. Van a su casa y al dia siguiente, como el pastor no lo quiere dejar solo se lo lleva con el al campo. Y asi lo hace por varios dias, hasta q el niño le dice, a travez de silbidos, q quiere q lo lleve a un lugar alto en donde todos lo puedan ver y q ahi le construya un altar. Y asi se ha echo... en ese lugar exacto se le ha construido (luego de demoler varias antiguas construcciones) una capilla hermosa, y el Niño, aun mas hermoso q antes, se le ve en todo lo alto. Ahora, desde lo alto, El los cuida mientras los campesinos van al campo o tehen sus gorritos. Vale la pena visitar
Don't miss the Ventanillas del Combayo (Little Windows of Combayo). It´s about 20 km away from Cajamarca through some amazing winding unpaved roads that provide vistas of the valley and the Chonto River. The ventanillas is a necropolis from 500 years before Christ to 100 years after Christ where those of high social status or rich buried the bones of the dead along with ceramic pots and textiles (representing what would be needed in the afterlife). This site was chosen due to the volcanic rock and the ease of carving out the windows or niches.
Of the 500 plus windows, most have been looted unfortunately, but luckily they have not been destroyed. It´s quite eerie looking...all the windows face towards the sun in accordance to the religious beliefs of the pre-Inca civilizations. There is a much closer site at Otuzco (about 8 km away) but the site at Combayo is much better preserved, and there is (as we found out) the added thrill of climbing up 300 meters on a wet and often unmarked trail. We dodged some inquisitive cows and dogs in a private pasture on our way up, but had to deal with cow patties on the way back!
Cumbemayo is a large valley area at 3,390 meters dotted with carved water canals that archaeologists trace to a water cult about 2000 years ago.
The ´rock forests´or what locals call ´frailones´(because the geologic formations resembles pious friars in prayer) rise starkly above the level ground up to a height of 20 meters (65 feet) above us and were marked with petroglyphs and many carvings sacred to the people who once worshipped here.
near Cajamarca- take a bus tour from one of the many travel agencies in Plaza des Armas
Aproximately an hour away drive from the city of Cajamarca you find this beautiful mountains with natural rock formations, they are amazing, and there are actually many theories and legends about them. Its quite a walk and its worth. Right there you will also find a very old water channel there are some old inca engravings on the rocks. I wish I would have had more time to stay there, probably camp over night, I found Cumbemayo the right place to connect with my soul, its is a place so peaceful and so energetic, you can almost here the voice of nature whispering through the wind.
The thermal bath where the Inca Atahualpa is said to have cured a wound.
If your hostal don't have hot showers, this is the place to go for enjoying a hot bath !
You can even go to the Sauna which is quite good and where you might encounter workers of the Yanacocha mine who come here to relax after 4 painful days spend in the mine.