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The Chauchilla cemetery and its open-air tombs

Home / Travel Blog / The Chauchilla cemetery and its open-air tombs
The Chauchilla cemetery and its open-air tombs

The Chauchilla Necropolis or Cemetery is located in the Nasca district, in a desert, in the province of the same name, within the city of Ica. It is a cemetery that is more than 1,000 years old, in which there are exposed bone remains, which would have belonged to the Poroma and Ica cultures, although there are some that identify it more with the Nazca men. Chauchilla also encompasses a built area, this is located on the left slope of the Tranzas River and it is there where the presence of tombs is observed, these are characterized by an extension of 2,000 meters and a thickness of just 500 m. and they are made from adobe. The site is considered the largest necropolis of pre-Inca times.

 

Although there are funerary constructions in Chauchilla, the most significant of the place are the so-called mummies. About these we can say that most of them are in a very good state of conservation and that their mummification was due to a natural event helped by the type of terrain in the area. Among the mummified remains are also those that were infants, which to guarantee their conservation have been transferred to the site museum. Regarding the permanence of the mummies in the necropolis, this is part of or the main attraction of the enclosure, since it is the only place in Peru where the mummies can be observed in their own tombs.

 

Regarding the tombs, in the necropolis you can see 20 in which mummified remains are exposed. Tombs are small craters made in the ground. In them are the mummies. The mummies are presented in bundles, in addition to being tied in a non-horizontal sitting or resting position. In them it is impressive to observe that most of them have complete teeth and hair so long that it reaches the waist, which, it is said, seems to endow them with a trait of vitality. Along with the visible mummies, other skeletal remains can be found, especially very white skulls. It is believed that initially different riches had existed in the tombs, but that they would have been stolen by looters.

 

In order for the visitor to access the Chauchilla necropolis, they must travel from the Plaza de Armas of Ica to the complex. The course of the trip is 45 minutes maximum, in the case of traveling by tourist bus. Admission to the place is worth s/1.00 for schoolchildren, s/2.00 for children, s/3.00 for older adults and s/7.50 for adult audiences. Visiting hours are from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, and the site is open all year.

 

Chauchilla and its tombs under the open sky

This archaeological site is totally open air and for several years it suffered constant looting of its hidden treasures by looters who roamed the sector.

 

Since 1997, the area has been protected and has become an official archaeological site recognized by the National Institute of Culture (INC), being one of the most outstanding tourist attractions in the province of Nasca, within the department of Ica. The most delicate mummies are found in a small site museum, located next to the Chauchilla cemetery.

 

The tradition of mumification

Many of us remember the movies "The Mummy" or "Indiana Jones", where part of the mummification rituals performed in Ancient Egypt are represented. Although a much simpler technique was used in Peru, it was just as effective. And it is that ancient cultures, both in Peru and in much of the world, believed in the existence of a second life after death or in the reincarnation of the body in another living being. For them, death was not only a temporary farewell to their loved ones, but also a ritual of preparation for their passage to the "beyond" or next spiritual level. For the same reason, many of the deceased were buried with offerings and even their most precious objects.

 

Its impressive tombs are two kilometers long by 200 meters wide and are made of adobe. Although these funerary constructions in Chauchilla leave many tourists speechless, the most significant thing about the place are the mummies, which have been kept in an almost perfect state of conservation until today, thanks to the arid climate of the Nazca desert. You can see the bone remains and even hair wrapped in bundles of cloth, accompanied by their trousseau such as textiles, gold objects and ceramic fragments.

 

Location:

The Chauchilla cemetery is located at Km. 470 of the Panamericana Sur, in the city of Nazca; department of Ica.

 

Climate:

The city of Nazca has a hot and desert climate; That is why the Chauchilla cemetery also has the same climate as it is in the same jurisdiction.

 

The same one that also has two seasons during the year: The warm season that includes the months of January to March with a maximum temperature of 30ºC and a minimum of 18ºC. And the cool season that includes the months of April to December, with a maximum temperature of 25ºC and a minimum of 15ºC.

 

Altitude:

The Chauchilla Necropolis is located approximately 510 meters above sea level.

 

How to get to Chauchilla Cemetery?

To get to the Chauchilla Necropolis, you must first get to the city of Nazca; The cost of the ticket varies between 50 to 70 soles on average, depending on the company you choose and the type of service.

 

Once located in the city of Nazca, you can take the services of a taxi that will take you directly to the cemetery, the average cost is 30 soles.

 

Another alternative to get to the Chauchilla cemetery is with the help of a travel agency; You can hire this service in the city of Nazca or in the city of Lima. Tour costs vary depending on the type of service or tour package you choose.

 

What is the Schedule and Admission Rate?

This archaeological site is open every day from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. and the entrance fees are as follows:

  • Adults s/. 7.50
  • University students (with card s/. 2.00
  • Schoolchildren s/. 1.00

What is the best season to visit?

You can visit this place in any month of the year; but you must take into account the season in which Nazca is; since there are months where the heat feels quite strong and others where it is moderate. Also, we recommend you to make your visit during the morning; since in the afternoon there may be the presence of small sandstorms, they are not serious; but it can inconvenience while you make your visit.

 

How to get to Chauchilla?

The Chauchilla cemetery is 28 kilometers southeast of the city of Nasca. To visit it, you must take the South Pan-American Highway to the height of km 463, then continue along a nearby road for about 10 kilometers. The trip takes about 30-45 minutes.

 

The place is open all year round and you can get to know it with a day tour. If you want to complement your trip, we recommend you take advantage of visiting the Nazca Lines since they are very close to Chauchilla.

 

Recommendations

  • Wear light clothing since it is a desert area with high temperatures that can reach 35°C, especially during the summer months (December to March). Bring a windbreaker for chilly afternoon winds.
  • Do not forget to bring drinking water, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Respect and protect the national heritage. Enjoy this archaeological site but always following the rules of the place and the delimited path so as not to step on or damage the archaeological remains.

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