Saturday, October 28 to Tuesday, November 7

I visited Cajamarca in 1985 and was looking forward to seeing the town again. The center looks a lot like it did then but the town has grown from about 70,000 when I first visited to about 300,000 people today. A huge open-pit gold mine north of town has brought in lots of money and environmental concerns. Unfortunately the growth hasn't been managed very well and the city has just sprawled out into the countryside. Much of the area just outside the city center is still very poor. Further out there are modern apartment buildings and three very modern shopping malls/centers.

Click on any photo to see it in a larger size.

Looking at downtown Cajamarca from Apolonia hill.

This one was taken from about the same spot in my 1985 visit.

Views of the plaza looking towards the Cathedral.

The San Francisco church is on the opposite side of the plaza from the Cathedral.

Night views of Cajamarca.

The Ransom Room

Cajamarca's most famous attraction is this stone room. According to legend after Pizarro and his men captured the Inca leader they promised him his freedom if he had this room filled with gold and silver up to a line that was as high as he could reach. His followers brought gold and silver and filled the room. And then Pizarro had the Inca executed anyway.

I just happened to be in the plaza when one of the local high schools had this parade for their beauty queens.

The hot springs of Banos del Inca are about ten minutes outside Cajamarca. The springs have been used for thousands of years. When Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish came to Cajamarca, the Inca leader and his staff were staying at the hot springs.

People used to use the runoff from the springs to boil eggs and even to cook chickens and hogs. That's not done anymore. There is a large common swimming pool with warm water. Or for about two dollars you can rent a small room with a bath.

Here's the room I had. The hot water is way too hot to touch so some cold has to be mixed in. I soaked for about an hour. As the water cooled off I just added a little more hot water.

The Inca's Seat is a chair carved into the stone on the hill overlooking Cajamarca. According to legend the Inca ruler would sit here.

A modern fantasy carving of the Inca ruler.

Sara MacDougall was a Scottish missionary church who worked in Cajamarca from 1921 until her death in 1955. She was so well liked that they named a street after her. (This is one of the many interesting little stories I've found in researching my book.)

Donald's Restaurant ... maybe I should have tried them out.

There are three modern shopping center/malls in Cajamarca, all in the same area. This was the smaller of the three. Each was anchored by a large grocery store. Tottus was my favorite of the three.

They had this cute section of 3D paintings in the back hallway. If you stand in the right place they really do look 3D.


Polloc is a poverty-stricken little village about an hour from Cajamarca by modern transportation. In the old days of travel by mule it was the first overnight stop when traveling east from Cajamarca. Today it is also the site of a beautiful Italian-style mosaic church. Unfortunately I arrived in mid-afternoon and the main church was already closed for the day. But I did get some interesting photos of the outer section and of the inside through the gate.

A kindergarten class from a nearby town had just visited the church and were resting outside. They gave me some good photo opportunities.