Sacred City of Caral-Supe
The city of Caral is thought to be the oldest center of civilization in the Americas and is exceptionally well preserved. Excavations have uncovered an elaborate 5,000-year-old metropolis of temples, sunken plazas, and some of the largest terraced pyramids in the world. The site also boasts an intriguing collection of artifacts, including examples of quipu—a unique knot system used to record data—and a number of musical instruments fashioned from animal bones.
You can explore Caral on your own or opt for a guided tour. Some walking and cycling tours also include other popular attractions in and around Lima, such as the city’s historical center, the pre-Columbian site in Miraflores or, the Inca settlement Pachacamac.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is a special circuit for visitors with disabilities; contact your tour provider in advance to make arrangements.
The site has a food area that serves a limited number of snacks and refreshments.
Caral-Supe is located in a desert; bring sun protection and bottled water.
How to Get There
Caral is located in the Supe Valley, about 200 miles (321 kilometers) north of Lima. The drive from Lima, along Route 1N, takes about 3 hours. You can also reach the site via public transportation: Take a bus from the center of Lima that heads to Barranca, and have them drop you in the Supe District. From there, you’ll need to take a taxi the rest of the way; the remaining drive takes about 45 minutes.
When to Get There
Caral is open all year round, from morning until late afternoon, with slightly extended hours Friday–Sunday. Arrive at least two hours before closing time. The best time to visit Lima (especially if you want to visit Cusco or trek to Machu Picchu) is in the winter (May–September), when there is the least amount of rain. The summer months (December–March) are warmer but wetter; Lima is very foggy in the summer.
Dating back more than 5,000 years, the complex at Caral is considered the birthplace of all Andean culture. The metropolis is thought to have been the administrative center of a cluster of 18 sites within the Supe Valley, which together form what archeologists refer to as the Caral-Supe Civilization. Together, these sites represent the earliest known urban settlements in the Americas, predating the Olmecs by a thousand years.
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