Huanchaco, North Coast of Peru

On the Project

MOCHE Staff 

MOCHE, Inc. only hires highly qualified staff to run our programs. Logisical support for our bioarchaeology field schools is provided by bilingual graduate students from around the US and Peru. Most staff members have spent years working in Peruvian archaeology and many have spent many summers working on the MOCHE-UNC field school. For more information please email Celest Gagnon or  Brian Billman


The field school is based in Huanchaco, a pleasant fishing village and beach resort just a few kilometers outside of Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru.  The field site is located up the Moche River Valley about 45 minutes from Huanchaco. The middle valley is largely agricultural with a wealth of archaeological sites littering the hilltops.


Our Peruvian staff prepares three meals a day, six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Breakfast consists of juice, coffee, tea (regular and herb teas), fruit, yogurt, fresh baked bread, jams, and butter. In the lab we have sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and chips. Dinners are typical Peruvian cooking and usually consist of three courses and fruit juice. The first course is either soup or salad. Some common main courses are lomo saltado (stir fried beef and vegetables), aji de gallina (chicken in a cheese and chile sauce), fish in various sauces such as ajo de mojo (a garlic sauce) or chorrillana (a tomato, chile, and onion sauce), and stewed duck (a north coast specialty). For those who wish to give it a try, guinea pig is available. The main course is served with white rice or potatoes or both. Peruvian food is not even remotely like Mexican food, so banish all thoughts of tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. It is similar to Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Spanish cooking. Vegetarian meals are available; however, we can’t provide vegan meals. Dessert is served with dinner a few times a week. The project has a staff washes the dishes.


Students stay at a rental house in Huanchaco near the beach. Students share double or triple rooms (rarely quads) with shared baths and hot showers (Don’t expect there to be hot water all of the time). Meals are prepared and served at the house by the field school cooking staff. We also rent a house in Huanchaco for graduate students and lab space.


Calling home from Peru is cheap and easy. In addition to Skype at internet cafes, there are phone exchanges in Huanchaco and Trujillo, where calls to the US cost 10 cents a minute (however these have become harder to find with the prevalence of WiFi at cafés, hotels and bars around town). Email is the best way to stay in touch. There are several internet cafés in Huanchaco and our typical lodging location, El Hospedaje Casona, has had WiFi available for free in the past(this is not a guarantee). Email access is less than 40 cents for an hour at internet cafés. Mail is not recommended. You can have letters sent to Correo Central, Trujillo, La Libertad, Peru (that’s general delivery) or the Correo Central, Huanchaco, La Libertad. However, letters take at least 10 to 14 days to reach Peru.


The Huanchaco has good, cheap laundry services. They charge by the kilo. Typically, 5 to 10 dollars per week should cover you unless you go through a lot of cloths. You should bring enough clothing to go one week without washing clothes.  Bring some warm clothes for evenings and nights as well as summer clothes (shorts, t-shirts, and a swim suit for the beach). Huanchaco is cool and damp in the summer with typical temperatures ranging from 45-75 degrees with varying amounts of sunshine.


Peruvian electric current is 220 volts, not the US 110. You’ll need to buy a converter (available at Radio Shack, Best Buy) to run any electrical gadgets you bring down. Batteries are readily available.  Power in Huanchaco has become more reliable in recent years, but a flashlight for the possibility of outages may be a good idea.

Drinking water, soft drinks, beer etc.

The project will provide an abundant supply of purified drinking water; tap water is not safe for drinking. Soft drinks (all the major brands) and beer can be purchased at local stores. The drinking age in Peru is 18.

Free Time

After dinner is free time. Socializing, reading, the beach, music, and night clubs are the main options for after-hours entertainment. Be sure to bring some books and music. The ocean is typically too cold for swimming, though some students take surfing lessons, which include the board and a body suit. Huanchaco is a quiet beach resort and fishing village with a population of about 20,000. June and July are the off season for tourism here; it‘s the Peruvian winter from April through September.  On Saturday we have tours of major archaeological sites in the valley. We definitely do NOT leave at 7:00. Rather we generally leave after a hot lunch and spend a few hours touring a site. Sunday is free time. Weekends are a good time to check out Trujillo. The city was founded in 1535. Much of early Spanish architecture is still preserved in the center of the city. Mayorista, a sprawling market near the center of town, also is worth a visit. Theaters in Trujillo show current US movies in English with Spanish subtitles, and there are clubs with live music. Buses and colectivos (vans) run every 15 or 20 minutes between Huanchaco. One way fare is about 10 or 20 cents. A taxi ride costs a couple bucks.

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Archaeology Internship Program