The commercial centre of northern Peru, CHICLAYO is better famed for its banks than its heritage. Nevertheless it has its own attractions, even if most of the city is an urban sprawl modernizing and growing rapidly. The city has an incredibly busy feel to it, with people and traffic moving fast and noisily everywhere during daylight hours. Tourists tend to attract attention in the main streets, not least because they aren’t seen very often.
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Central Market Daily 7am–6pm. Along with the massive semi-covered market lanes – part of which is called the Feria Balta – this is the main focus of activity in town. Known as the Mercado Modelo, the main part of the Central Market is packed with food vendors at the centre, and other stalls around the outside. This is one of the best markets in the north – and a revelation if you’ve just arrived in the country. There’s a whole section of live animals, including wild fox cubs, canaries and even the occasional condor chick, and you can’t miss the ray fish, known as la guitarra, hanging up to dry in the sun before being made into a local speciality, pescado seco. But the most compelling displays are the herbalists’ shops, or mercado de brujos (witches’ market), selling everything from herbs and charms to whale bones and hallucinogenic cacti.
Mercado Mochoqueque Daily 5am–11am. Further out on the eastern edge of town. Huge, cheap wholesale market and a fascinating window into life in this part of the world; it’s best to come early on Tuesday or Friday, but if you stray here, beware – there are a lot of pickpockets.