The 2500-Year-Old Reed Boats of Huanchaco, Peru

There has been a settlement at Huanchaco since prehistoric times. When the colossal UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chan Chan was a thriving city, Huanchaco was its port. Colonial era buildings indicate it remained important to the Spanish conquistadores. Some experts claim Huanchaco is the original home of the raw fish dish, ceviche. And in 2012, it was designated a World Surfing Reserve.

Huanchaco beach, were the land meets the water

Huanchaco beach, were the land meets the water

Huanchaco pier

Huanchaco pier

Yet the thing that attracts most visitors to Huanchaco are the traditional reed boats used by its fishermen.

Reed boats along Huanchaco beach

Reed boats along Huanchaco beach

Today, the characteristic reed boats go by the name caballitos de totora, which translates as reed horses. This is despite the fact they predate the introduction of modern horses to South America by over 2000 years. In fact, they were first made by the Moche People around 2500 years ago.

Me with some 'reed horses'

Me with some ‘reed horses’

Caballitos de totora are actually found all along the northern Peruvian coast, but are particularly associated with Huanchaco.

The boats are temporary things - eventually the reeds become waterlogged and the boats are taken apart

The boats are temporary things – eventually the reeds become waterlogged and the boats are taken apart

The ‘boats’ get their name from the way the fishermen ride them. Unlike a canoe, which you sit inside, you ‘ride’ a caballitos de totora as you would a horse, with one leg either side.

A 'reed horse' -  spot the fun being had in the background, by the water's edge

A ‘reed horse’ – spot the fun being had in the background, by the water’s edge

The hollowed-out portion in the centre is used to carry fishing nets and other necessities.

A modern twist... these days polystyrene is used to make the boats more buoyant

A modern twist… these days polystyrene is used to make the boats more buoyant

In many ways, caballitos de totora are more like rafts than true boats. But whatever you want to call them, seeing them lined up along the sea’s edge in Huanchaco is like stepping back in time.

Huanchaco beach and its caballitos de totora

Huanchaco beach and its caballitos de totora

Thanks to Lina of TrujilloDelPeru.Com for showing us Huanchaco and its wonderful reed boats.

A local girl saying 'hi' to a pair of Peruvian Pelicans

A local girl saying ‘hi’ to a pair of Peruvian Pelicans

The pelicans don't take much notice as the waves roll in and out

The pelicans don’t take much notice as the waves roll in and out

This post was inspired by Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?) travel theme of Land Meets Water and Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

Do you consider the caballitos de totora to be more boats or rafts? In either case, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, the first three Jaspa’s Journey novels will soon be available to enjoy, both as ebooks and in paperback! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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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!
This entry was posted in Environment, History, Jaspa's Journey, Photography, South America, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The 2500-Year-Old Reed Boats of Huanchaco, Peru

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    Such an interesting post. Thanks so much for playing.

  2. macbofisbil says:

    A thrilling and informative post with amazing pictures.
    http://wp.me/p3GQAz-1ih

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