Destination guide: Cajamarca, Peru

Cajamarca is in northern Peru in the western Andes and is home to both mountains and jungle. The city was originally inhabited by the Huacaloma, Layzon, Cumbe Mayo and Otuzco tribes, who left behind an important cultural legacy.

In fact, Cajamarca is an important part of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas, a title it received in 1986 from the Organization of American States (OAS). This is not all though, since Cajamarca is also known as the capital of the Peruvian carnival.

  • Cajamarca - Things to do


    Cerro Santa Apolonia

    The garden-covered hilltop of Cerro Santa Apolonia overlooks the city from the southwest and is a prominent Cajamarca landmark. It's easily reached by climbing the stairs at the end of 2 de Mayo. The pre-Hispanic carved rocks at the summit are mainly Inca, but some are thought to originally date back to the Chavín period. One of the rocks, known as the Seat of the Inca, has a shape that suggests a throne, and the inca (king) is said to have reviewed his troops from here.

     Sub-Type: Hill
    Opening Hours: 09:00-13:00 & 15:00-17:00.
    Pricing: admission US$0.30.
    Address: City Center
    Transportation Type: walking Details: climb stairs at end of 2 de Mayo.

    Iglesia de San Francisco

    This church faces the Plaza de Armas. It is often imaginatively illuminated in the evenings, especially on weekends. San Francisco's belfries were finished in the 20th century – too late for the Spanish Crown to collect its tax. Inside are elaborate stone carvings and decadent altars, and at the entrance is an interesting collection of dangling silver sacred hearts. Visit the church’s small Museo de Arte Religioso (Religious Art Museum) to see 17th-century religious paintings done by indigenous artists and the creepy catacombs, where many monks lie buried. The intricately sculpted Capilla de la Dolorosa to the right of the nave is considered one of the finest chapels in the city.

    Opening Hours: 9am-noon & 4-6pm Mon-Fri.
    Pricing: admission $3.

    Termas de Rio Hondo

    Termas de Rio Hondo's main attraction is its thermal springs, and even the most basic accommodation has hot mineral baths. Very much a destination for Argentine tourists, Río Hondo is not as interesting for international visitors. That said, you'll be comfortable in the off-season with bargain-basement prices, as competition between hotels is hot.

    Sub-Type: Museum.
    Opening Hours: 08:00-14:30 Mon-Fri.
    Pricing: Free.
    Address: Del Batán 289, City Center.