A Guide To Tucume

The 540 acre (220 ha) site of Tucume is 24 km (15 miles) north of Lambayeque and 40 km (25 miles) from Chiclayo. There are 26 pyramids surrounding the natural Cerro Purgatario (Purgatory Hill).

Huaca Larga is the largest pyramid at the site, measuring 700 m (2,297 ft) in length, 270 m (886 ft) in width and 30 m (98 ft) in height. It is thought that the area was first occupied by people of the Sican (also known as the Lambayeque) culture, around 1000 AD. 

In approximately 1375, the Chimu conquered the Sican, but were themselves defeated by the Inca less than 100 years later. As a result, the pyramids have Sican origins, with Chimu and Inca additions. So far, archaeologists have found only Inca burials. 

The truncated pyramids were finely decorated, with murals that represented their gods and images of the sea, illustrating the fine craftsmanship of the time. They were also excellent engineers, building canals to bring water to this arid area from distant water sources. 

Another interesting detail is that the pyramids were arranged in the same way as the surrounding mountains.

There is a footpath up the hill to a lookout with expansive views over the landscape, locally called the Valley of the Pyramids.

A site museum explains the findings of the previous excavations undertaken by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002), who directed the dig from 1989 to 1994. The museum re-opened in late 2014, after a major remodeling and new distribution of its exhibits, and in November 2015 was recognized by the British Travel Writers Guild as one of the year’s Best World Tourism Projects.

Note that the Museo Brüning, in the city of Lambayeque, showcases more pieces from the site of Tucume, as well as Batan Grande, which is in the Pomac Dry Forest Reserve

How to Visit: As well as being fascinating archaeologically, the Tucume Pyramids are nicely located on the way from Lambayeque to Amazonas, surrounded by dry forest, and so are included in the following itineraries: