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Caral is a place that has been struggling for popularity, especially among foreign tourists. Unfortunately, a lot of people skip this place due to the distance, price, and difficulty to get there.

Nevertheless, it is a very important place. Did you know that this city is considered to be the oldest city in America and one of the first cities in the world? Caral inhabited the so-called civilization of Norte Chico in Peru which was developed at the same time as the cultures in ancient Egypt. Thanks to the objects found on the site, it is estimated that the city is about 5,000 years old.

It was also inscribed by UNESCO in 2009.


How to get there?

You can get there from Lima in about 3 hours if you rent a car. If you put it into the navigation Lima – Caral will most likely send you through a shortcut. However, this road is more suitable for larger off-road cars, because for about 40 minutes you will drive through a dusty and stony road full of pits in the middle of nowhere. If you want to make the journey easier, you can take a detour towards Supe town further along Panamericana Sur and then the nearest turn to the right. The journey is 20 minutes longer, but you will save yourself the hassle of bumps.

Another option is to take a bus, from Plaza Norte in Lima, buses run for about S/15 and take you to the town of Supe, which is closest to the ruins. When you get to the town after about four hours, ask the driver, where is the station for collectivos (minivans). This shared ride should cost about less than a bus. Say you want to get off the “Caral Bridge” and mention that you want to visit the archeological complex, they will already know.

There is always an option to book a tour for one day from Lima. It will cost around $100, including a guide and most likely a meal as well.


At the place

You can buy a ticket at the entrance for S/11. Toilets and souvenir shops are on-site, and, I suppose, bars and restaurants were closed due to the pandemic. We saw just the locals having lunch at the tables so the whole family enjoys it together.

You can walk around the ruins only with a guide, so after buying a ticket, you have to wait until a group of about 10 members will gather. The complex is still not so popular among tourists so an English-speaking guide is not available. You will hear everything in Spanish. However, there is an English translation on the information boards, which are located around the area. The tour lasts about an hour.


Why is Caral actually so important? 

Besides that the city is pretty old, the whole area has 1,500 acres, six ancient pyramids, circular plazas, amphitheaters, and some residential units. The culture that built this city is considered a part of one of the six cradles of world civilization.

Except for being the first city in America, Caral happened to be so important because of the discovery far older than in the later developed Western world. The ancient inhabitants discovered fluid mechanics and built fireplaces with an underfloor ventilation system. They constructed ventilation ducts under the ground which allowed them to fan the fire to very high temperatures. 

There were also found reed-woven bags filled with large stones used as a support for retaining walls of the pyramids. Then cotton seeds, fibers, textiles, fish bones and fishing nets, flutes made of pelican bones, and a quipu, for recording information known from the Inca times.

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