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Review of Caral

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Caral Archaeological Site Day Trip from Lima
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All Inclusive Private Tour to Caral Archaeological Site from Lima
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Private Caral Full Day Trip from Lima
Ranked #18 of 330 things to do in Lima
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
New York City, New York
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed June 2, 2013

I didn't time it exactly, but I think this is about 3 hours north of central Lima. It's quite a ride, but well worth it.

Just 18 years ago, this area was simply a series of hills until an observant scientist recognized that the placement of the hills simply couldn't be a natural occurrence. Her efforts soon unearthed this startling site. Not only an unknown civilization, but the oldest civilization in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the second oldest in the world, preceded only by Mesopotamia.

The civilization of Caral formed and prospered in isolation, with no other competing or cooperating civilizations from which to learn. It's accomplishments are completely its own. It was also a peaceful culture, with no signs of fortifications evident and no weapons of any kind found.

Caral's distance from Lima makes it less popular with tourists than some other sites. When I was there, on a weekend, there were fewer than 10 other people sharing it with me. Go, and be one of the few who actually walk amidst a discovery that has truly changed history.

Visited May 2013
5 Thank mileagefan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bogota, Colombia
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“real ruins”
Reviewed June 1, 2013

Not as quite as impressive as ruins of the sacred valley but still worth a visit. Getting there is hard but a part of the good experience just ask locals how and practice your Spanish! Not a lot of tourists there which is nice but they are so old they are not in great condition. But it feels like a teak experience of discovering ruins rather than walking up or taking a bus to overcrowded ruins.

Visited March 2013
1 Thank Megan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redwood City, California
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Caral-excellent, and here is affordable way to visit!”
Reviewed May 31, 2013

Super interesting site, few visitors, new and clean facilities (toilets!!). Highly recommend visiting before it becomes super popular tourist site like those in Cusco.... We read about price of tours from Lima and thought there were very overpriced. My husband and I did it independently on a day trip from Lima for approx. US$30 each :) It was a long day, and quite an adventure, but excellent. We are Amerian/Peruvian couple in our 50s/60s and comfortable travelling independently. You should be confident Spanish-speaker to try this tho. Here's how we did the trip. From Miraflores we took taxi to Paramonga Tours bus station (in La Victoria, near downtown) 15 soles. This is a pretty rough area, so be careful. Paramonga and Barranca Tours both leave from Lima and stop in Supe. I picked Paramonga because they listed their prices on their website, but the Barranca buses looked nicer. One way Lima-Supe is 15 soles. Buy ticket at bus station. Bus was fine, not fancy. Buses also leave from the nice bus station in Terminal Terrestre Fiori (San Martin de Poros), but that was further distance from Miraflores. Lima-Supe was about 3 to 3.5 hours travel. We left at 6:10 am, but buses leave about every 20-30 minutes. You pass the turnoff to Caral a few km before Supe, bus doesn't stop there. Get off in Supe. Very poor/rough area where the bus stops. But bus driver will direct you to where to get transportation to Caral, only 1 block away. We were going to take the "cabitas" which was 20 soles each round trip in a minivan. But they need minimum 4 people and we were so early there was noone else. So we walked another block north to where the "taxi collectivos" were available. They charge 7 soles per person to go from Supe to the Caral bridge (make sure to go to the bridge. If they drop you in Caral it is only 5 soles but you have to walk another 1km to the bridge). Problem is they will cram as many people as possible into their taxi, so you should expect to be jammed into a car for the 23km ride along pretty rough metal road. I suggest the cabitas if possible! Takes about 30 mins, Supe-Caral. The road is rough but views are great along Supe River, lots of agriculture (no chicken sheds!). At the Caral bridge they are building a new visitor center, not finished yet. Someone is at the bridge to greet you and welcome you to the Archeological site. From there you walk approx 1.5km to the official site. This is a lovely walk along the Caral riverbank, then up a hill where you can see the entire site. Keep following the path and you will see huge parking lot (this is if driving from other direction, turn off south of Supe, bus tours, etc), then the visitor centre and entrance. Excellent toilets with t-paper - but you know to always carry your own :) The visitor centre is very interesting. Entry fee is 11 soles and the guide (mandatory) is 20 soles, to be shared with the group. We waited an hour for our guide (we were there midweek, few visitors and only 2 guides available). One guide took off with a tour group of 8 Italians in tour group, and they didn't want to send out the other guide until he came back. Anyway, we were in no hurry and we used the time to look through the visitor centre and eat our lunch. We took our own food and drink with us. The day we were there there was no food for sale at the site, but it looked like on weekends they sell food. Guide was excellent, but only in Spanish. Tour was about 80 minutes, and we paid 3 soles each for guide (group of 7). After tour, walk back to bridge (20-30 minutes depending on how fast you walk). There may or may not be taxis there.... they drive out from Caral periodically to see if tourists waiting. We started walking back towards Caral and about halfway there we flagged a taxi heading to the bridge and from there went back to Supe. On the way he picked up passengers, so was again crammed full! At Supe we bought ticket at bus station (little store on corner). Return ticket another 15 soles. We left Supe around 4pm - nice to sleep on bus on return, arrived back in Lima around 7:30pm. We finished our day by walking from the downtown bus station to El Parque de la Reserva (20 min walk via Av. Grau) to watch the Magic Fountains (a must-do for Lima) then taxi back to Miraflores.

We like to spend the day on this type of adventure, experiencing local life, and save money to do more travelling, but it's not for everyone. On our Caral tour we were with an American tourist who paid $300 for a customized day tour from Lima; picked up in Miraflores, driven in car to Caral, all meals included plus dinner in Barranco (north of Supe) at end of day, then back to hotel in Lima.

If you do it our way, take your own food, water, cash and t-paper. It was fabulous day, interesting conversations in taxis and tour, amazing historical site (you can read about that in other reviews). We actually spent about 3 hours at the site, including the guided tour.

Visited May 2013
14 Thank ShirleyG60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 5 Contributor
84 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Definitely worth a visit”
Reviewed May 29, 2013

It's incredible that this was only discovered 18 years ago and is the 2nd oldest known civilization in the world. You can walk through the entire area and really feel like you stepped back in time. There are a lot of interesting theories as to what happened to the people who once lived there and I look forward to seeing the mystery unfold.

Visited May 2013
2 Thank meshellatl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Virginia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Really great tour that more people should go on”
Reviewed May 5, 2013

I was working in Lima, but had the weekend off and really wanted to visit Caral. It is the most ancient major ruin in the Americas and was only recently discovered. Online I found a few day tours from Lima. Some were extremely expensive ($450) and some were booked. But I got a quick response from Peru Smile Tours who fit me in for a private tour. Peru Smile's staff were responsive, able to do the whole transaction clearly in English (I do not know Spanish), and did everything they promised they would do. One of the company's owners, Jorge, did the driving (which was more difficult than I had pictured -- including fording the Supe River in his car -- all of this on his birthday) and his colleague Orlando was my guide. Both Jorge and Orlando were great company all day and explained a lot to me about Peru in general (both are rightly very proud of Peru and like to show it to visitors). Orlando speaks English well and is very well informed about Caral. He also clearly loves the site. I loved the site. It is a truly amazing location that Peru has done an excellent job of presenting to visitors. The site is beautiful and very clean. And the model of the development is respectful to the site and the town of Caral, which has been included in the development plan. Because of this you must follow a local Caral guide around the site. If you speak Spanish this is probably great, because the person lives right there and probably knows the site very well. If not, it becomes even more important that you go with a guide. The site is impressive no matter what, but more so if you have someone who can tell you about it, in a language you understand. I would recommend the Peru Smile Tour very highly.

Visited May 2013
5 Thank JonathanCM1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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