Pachacámac & Pantanos de Villa, Peru: Archaeological Marvel & Wildlife Refuge

On our second day in Lima, our guides Vanessa and Marek introduced us to two completely contrasting sites, within a stone’s throw of each other, on the south side of the city.

After battling through Lima’s early morning traffic, we arrived at the Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge, an oasis of lush green vegetation and inviting ponds. The 650 acres of the protected area cover a variety of marshland habitats close to the coast.

Looking across the Laguna Principal at Pantanos de Villa

Looking across the Laguna Principal at Pantanos de Villa

IMG_2644Pantanos de Villa provides a safe haven for over 200 species of local and migratory birds, not to mention a whole bunch of other animals and plants.

Vultures circling above

Vultures circling above

IMG_2642IMG_2643

Guinea pig trails (I wanted to see a guinea pig, but no luck)

Guinea pig trails (I wanted to see a guinea pig, but no luck)

The marshlands, which exist in the valley of the Rímac River, used to be much more extensive, forming a barrier between nearby Pachacámac (see below) and Lima. During recent years, expansion of the poorer areas of Peru’s capital, have seen the wetlands drastically reduced in size. Thankfully, Pantanos de Villa is now protected by law. Fingers crossed it survives!

The suburbs of Lima across Laguna Principal

The suburbs of Lima across Laguna Principal

Lets hope they get no closer

Lets hope they get no closer

Our second stop of the day was at the world famous Pachacámac Archaeological Complex. Although just 6 miles away, after the relatively moist and cool freshness of Pantanos de Villa, stepping out of the car at Pachacámac was like entering an oven. Gone were the tempting lagoons and abundant reed beds, replaced by the full-on blast furnace of the desert.

Panorama of Pachacámac

Panorama of Pachacámac

Just to prove I was there!

Just to prove I was there!

'Acllawasi' or 'Mamacona' complex (Inca period 1470-1533 AD), reconstructed in the 1940s

‘Acllawasi’ or ‘Mamacona’ complex (Inca period 1470-1533 AD), reconstructed in the 1940s

Pachacámac was the most important temple in this part of South America for almost 1500 years, after it rose to prominence in about 200 AD. Archaeologists have found evidence of occupation in adjacent Lurín Valley dating back to 1800 BC.

Calle Norte-Sur (North-South Street) is today over a quarter of a mile long and up to 13 feet wide

Calle Norte-Sur (North-South Street) is today over a quarter of a mile long and up to 13 feet wide

Calle Norte-Sue to the right of which are the 'Pyramids with Ramps' (Ychma culture 900-1470 AD)

Calle Norte-Sue to the right of which are the ‘Pyramids with Ramps’ (Ychma culture 900-1470 AD)

'Pyramid with Ramp No. 1'

‘Pyramid with Ramp No. 1’

Making the adobe bricks that will be used in the conservation process

Making the adobe bricks that will be used in the conservation process

'Palace of Taurichumpi' in the south-east part of the Pachacámac site (Inca Period 1470-1533 AD)

‘Palace of Taurichumpi’ in the south-east part of the Pachacámac site (Inca Period 1470-1533 AD)

The town of Lurín encroaching on Taurichumpi

The town of Lurín encroaching on Taurichumpi

Residential buildings

Residential buildings

Within the awe-inspiring 1150 acres of the Pachacámac complex are more than 50 monumental structures. A sacred site of pilgrimage, it was said to be home to the Pachacámac Creator God. A succession of local peoples held authority over the temples and its associated city until the arrive of the Inca in around 1450 AD. The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors spelled the end for Pachacámac.

'Old Temple' (Lima culture 200-650 AD)

‘Old Temple’ (Lima culture 200-650 AD)

'Painted Temple' (Lima, Wari & Ychma cultures 200-1470 AD), partly covered for protection

‘Painted Temple’ (Lima, Wari & Ychma cultures 200-1470 AD), partly covered for protection

The murals on the protective walls illustrate some of the designs on the Painted Temple

The murals on the protective walls illustrate some of the designs on the Painted Temple

Looking up the (long, hot) hill towards the 'Temple of the Sun' (Inca period 1470-1533 AD

Looking up the (long, hot) hill towards the ‘Temple of the Sun’ (Inca period 1470-1533 AD)

Eastern side of the Temple of the Sun

Eastern side of the Temple of the Sun

Southern side of the Temple of the Sun

Southern side of the Temple of the Sun

It’s hard to imagine two places so close together, yet so dissimilar in every way, than Pantanos de Villa and Pachacámac. Thanks to Vanessa and Marek (who’s a trained archaeologist, by the way) for introducing us to them.

View from the Temple of the Sun across the mouth of the fertile Lurín Valley towards the Pachacámac Islands

View from the Temple of the Sun across the mouth of the fertile Lurín Valley towards the Pachacámac Islands

Seaward-facing side of the Temple of the Sun

Seaward-facing side of the Temple of the Sun

Heading back down the hill along the eastern side of the Temple of the Sun

Heading back down the hill along the eastern side of the Temple of the Sun

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Two Very Different Items.

Panorama of the Pachacámac Archaeological Complex from the Temple of the Sun

Panorama of the Pachacámac Archaeological Complex from the Temple of the Sun

Pachacámac, with Lurín in the distance

Pachacámac, with Lurín in the distance

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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7 Responses to Pachacámac & Pantanos de Villa, Peru: Archaeological Marvel & Wildlife Refuge

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    Thanks for playing along this week. 😀

  2. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Two Very Different Items or the Number Two | WoollyMuses

  3. jpeggytaylor says:

    Two amazing places – so different but each fascinating. The ancient buildings are fabulous – built literally with the earth around them – no problems with a carbon footprint there!

  4. Pingback: The Artisans of Lurín, Peru | Jaspa's Journal

  5. Pingback: Pan American Highway | Jaspa's Journal

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