Cahuachi Ceremonial Center

The Cahuachi Ceremonial Center is the largest clay ceremonial center in the world, consisting of a set of truncated adobe pyramids built by the ancient Nazca, which are 15 to 40 meters high. It is located in the valley of the Nazca River, 460 kilometers south of Lima.

The Nazca culture (200 BC – 900 AD) was one of the most famous pre-Columbian cultures of the Andes. It was recognized for its fine ceramics and for the enigmatic lines and figures drawn on the pampas of Palpa and San José.

Very close to the Nazca Lines is the Archaeological Site of Cahuachi, one of the largest in pyramids and squares of the pre-Hispanic era. There is a patio and a large terrace with covered areas.


Cahuachi, is the largest ceremonial center, it has 24 square kilometers of extension; This ceremonial center belongs to the Nazca culture (Early Intermediate, 200 BC-700 AD) and is made up of several truncated pyramids built in adobe, many of which were abandoned during the 5th and 6th centuries AD.

Cahuachi, means «place where seers live» It was the most important residential and ritual center of the Nazca culture and was used to make offerings related to agriculture, which was its main activity. For many researchers.

Cahuachi Ruins sets the standard for housing expansion on the South Coast and it was in 1982 that the Cahuachi pyramids were discovered.

Cahuachi Ruins was also considered the theocratic capital of the Nazca Culture ruled by priests, for this reason some researchers consider it the «Vatican of Pre-Hispanic Peru».

It was the most important residential and ritual center of the Nazca culture that developed between 400 years after Christ and was used to make offerings related to agriculture, which was its main activity. For many researchers, Cahuachi sets the standard for housing expansion on the South Coast.

There are also structures that have an open patio on one side and a large terrace with covered areas. On the tops of the major temples, as in the case of the Great Temple, the existence of large enclosures whose roofs were supported by dozens of columns was found.

Recently it has been concluded that the «Nazca Lines» had an exclusively ceremonial purpose. Being the place where the priests led the people from Cahuachi to perform great ceremonies.


They built this beautiful ceremonial center on the left bank of the Nazca River, currently it is within the jurisdiction of the Nazca province, Ica region, in southern Peru.


The Cahuachi Ruins is 360 meters above sea level.


The Cahuachi Pyramids were built side by side against small hills following the edge of the valley and the desert. In total, the constructions are scattered within an area that reaches 24 km2. The central nucleus (also called Zone A), which covers an area of ??4 km2, is composed of five pyramids enclosed by a perimeter wall, which includes: The Great Temple, The Great Pyramid, the Temple of Stepped and the Mounds 1 and 2. In the middle a large vacant space is the main square.

In the entire Nazca Valley, Cahuachi is the only known example of monumental architecture for the period it was in use: 200 BC to 450 AD (Bachir Bacha 2007). At first the preferred technique for the constructions was the conical adobe and in a second moment the «paniform» adobe to raise retaining walls or walls which were placed directly on the ground without the use of foundations. The conical adobes have a flat base (face) and, as its name indicates, the body is cone-shaped. They were laid out in rows one next to the other showing their face (flat base) outwards on a thick layer of clay mortar.

In general lines the architectural planning of the pyramids consists of a base of superimposed platforms (pyramid) that serve as support for squares, patios, corridors, stairs, ramps and enclosures, which guide the visitor on a route that goes from the outside to the inside from the bottom up and from the public (open) to the private (restricted).

Cahuachi was not alone, along the valley (mainly the left bank) numerous archaeological sites have been identified as contemporary villages of the great city. These villages were built on artificial terraces and were formed by a set of small quadrangular structures whose walls have a base of adobe and the rest of height in «quincha»: woven structure of cane covered with mud.


Among the most representative attractions of the Cahuachi Ceremonial Center are the Cahuachi Pyramids:

The Great Pyramid: One of the most imposing buildings in the city of Cahuachi is the “Great Pyramid” which is 110 m long, 90 m wide and 28 m high, and is made up of 7 stepped platforms. In the «Great Pyramid» the archaeologists found a deposit of 200 textiles, several of them hand-painted, which is a rarity in the Nazca culture since until that moment only embroidered textiles were known.

The great temple: Another important building in the city of Cahuachi was the “Great Temple” or “Templo Mayor”, which according to archaeologists’ calculations would measure 150 m long, 100 m wide and between 15 and 20 m high. There the main theurgy or high magic ceremonies were held, which were performed by the important priestly caste of the Nazca Culture.

The stepped temple: A wall with inscriptions and friezes, 5 meters high and 25 meters long, has been discovered from this temple.

There are also structures that have an open patio on one side and a large terrace with covered areas. On the tops of the major temples, the existence of large enclosures whose roofs were supported by dozens of columns was verified.

Several tombs have been investigated in the necropolis, found with their furnishings intact; all the archaeological material from this site is exhibited in the «Antonini de Nazca Archaeological Museum»

When to go?

It is a desert area in which there is hardly any fluvial rainfall during the year and the months from December to March are the most benevolent with the temperatures, during the months of June to August the work of archaeologists can be observed.

The rest of the year is empty and on many occasions closed, so it is convenient to inquire in advance.

If you travel to Perú, we also recommend you to visit another impressive destinations in the city of Cusco like the tour to rainbow mountain peru or the humantay lake tour from cusco, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Cusco, other archaeological places you can know will be the choquequirao trek peru, the salkantay trek to machu picchu, and the classic inca trail 4 days 3 nights.

How to get to Cahuachi Ruins?

It is not easy to get to Cachuachi. A tour or a taxi are the best options from Nazca. Hitchhiking will be impossible because there are hardly any vehicles in this area of ??the desert.

To get to it, the first thing we have to do is inform ourselves. Cahuachi is not always open and is sometimes closed so as not to disturb the work of the archaeologists who still work there. Bear in mind that visiting it does not imply any cost, only transport (about 20/30 soles) without hiring a tour, since the ruins are not equipped for tourism. There only exist a series of buildings where the archaeologists keep the material.

Getting there involves traveling on a dusty road for 30 minutes from the city of Nazca. It is not easy because there are practically no signs and a maze of desert tracks intersect one after another, but the savvy local drivers know the place like the back of their hand.

Once there, as the place does not have any entrance, it is enough to park in a large expanse of land and walk along the trails enabled for the incipient tourism that has not yet finished arriving.

The size of the lost city of Cahuachi is enormous and the work required to restore it will take many years. Only the summers (June to August) are used by Giuseppe Oreficci’s team for its restoration, so I am afraid that if the government of Peru does not finance the excavation and add more resources, this wonder of the desert will never be unearthed. Born.

There are not many trails enabled and there is no direct access to the pyramids, only to their surroundings so it can disappoint you a bit. Of course, the most shocking thing is that you can find human bones by almost any path. Incredible for a city built around 450 B.C.

We only need one hour to visit it, although there will be some who hide from the strong heat that prevails in these places. However, I recommend visiting it when the archaeologists are working, since many are offered as guides and we can give a small tip to help with the excavations.

By the way, from the ruins we can see the highest dune in the world, the white hill with 2078m high and where sandboarding is practiced.

Where to eat?

There is nothing. It is advisable to bring plenty of water and something to eat.

What to bring?

There are certain objects that should not be missing. Here is a list:

  • Binoculars.
  • Camera with good zoom and a wide angle.
  • Cap.
  • Water bottles.
  • 100% cotton clothing.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Vaccinations: You do not need any type of vaccine to visit this part of Peru.

TripAdvisor Reviews

Based on 151 reviews
Fernanda L
Fernanda L
Mariela es muy especial! Fue todo perfecto! Mariela es increíble y hizo todo para que nuestro viaje fuera inolvidable. La dedicación de Mariela por su trabajo y por su familia también son muy bonitas. Eso hace todo aún más especial.
Cusco Visitei Cusco em Junho/2023 e reservei todos os passeios com a Qorianka. Equipe muito atenciosa, todos os passeios foram ótimos e bem organizados.
Da F
Da F
Perfeito!!!!! Quando fui planejar a viagem para Cusco pesquisei muito os locais que queria conhecer e as empresas que faziam os passeios, encontrei a Qorianka Tours entrei em contato e fui super bem atendida pela Mariele que esclareceu todas as minhas dúvidas. Quando estamos planejamento uma viagem sempre surgi o medo de não ser o que esperávamos, mas falo com vocês que foi melhor do que eu esperava, me surpreendeu o comprometimento, a atenção de toda a equipe que esteve comigo e com meu marido no período da viagem. Vou detalhar um pouco como foi, quando chegamos no aeroporto já tinha uma pessoa esperando para levar até o hotel, nos dias de buscar para os passeios foram todos extremamente pontuais, os guias sempre alegres e com toda atenção explicavam as histórias dos locais, os locais de café da manhã e almoço muito bom e agradáveis e no fim da viagem também nos buscaram no hotel e levaram até o aeroporto. Ficamos 9 dias em Cusco, foi uma viagem maravilhosa, um sonho realizado. Agradeço toda a equipe da Qorianka Tours que conseguiram transformar minha viagem em algo mais surpreendente do que eu espera. Se vc estiver planejando super indico a Qorianka Tours, não tem nenhum ponto negativo para reclamar. Podem confiar.
Solange Puga
Solange Puga
AGÊNCIA CONFIÁVEL!! A agencia é confiável, fiz a reserva pelo Brasil,só paguei uma pequena reserva,em um banco no Brasil,fiz o resto do pagamento diretamente com a Mariella em Cusco. Eles são honestos,mas meio informais. . No city tour,eles atrasaram, logo após 20'' de atraso eu liguei,esqueceram de nós,mas logo Mariella resolveu o problema e mandou um carro para nos levar até o grupo. Adoramos os guias de cada passeio,Aidê,Roni,Ivan e Mari,são eficientes,educados e divertidos . As Vans eram confortáveis. O hotel do pacote em Aguas Calientes,,era bom e bem localizado,foram nos buscar na estação.
Silvia P
Silvia P
7 lagunas con Diego Go!! La mejor experiencia!!! desde inicio hasta al final... cuentan con servicio de desayuno, almuerzo típico delicioso? Además de conocer y hacer amistades de otros países? y lo más importante el guía quién nos orienta e explica durante todo el trayecto.... totalmente agradecida y muy feliz Guía: Diego Suna Quispe
Rocio O
Rocio O
TOUR 7 LAGUNAS CON DIEGO GO! La mejor experiencia de la visita a las 7 lagunas además de contemplar su belleza natural fue que el guía Diego nos dejó tomarnos el tiempo necesario para captar las mejores fotografías y hacer videos, ya que estas imágenes quedarán guardadas por siempre para el recuerdo. También agradecer por la alimentación que estaba deliciosa con ingredientes propias de la zona. Un consejo para las personas que deseen aventurarse en este tour (o alguno otro, ya que el guía es experto en muchos tours) no se arrepentirán en tomarlo como guía a DIEGO GO! ( como lo bautizamos ???) su nombre real es DIEGO SUNA QUISPE
Rafa Rodriguez
Rafa Rodriguez
Todo el viaje valió la pena El viaje fue súper cansador pero llegar a la montaña de colores compensó todo el cansancio! Además con el guía Ronald aka Picasso hizo esta experiencia mucho más gratificante y hermosa!
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