Cajamarca is a charming city in northern Peru, set within the Andes at an elevation of about 9,000 feet (2,750 m). Despite rapid growth due to the gold mining industry, Cajamarca still retains a historic feel. Villagers stroll down cobblestone streets in traditional attire, passing by old churches and colonial houses as they make their way towards the Plaza de Armas.
Cajamarca revolves around the Plaza de Armas. During Inca times, this plaza was twice as long and lined with stone warehouses filled with textiles made from llama, cotton, and vicuña wool. The clothing was paid as a tribute by surrounding empires to the north. While in Cajamarca, in addition to spending time exploring the city center, travelers may visit the Cuarto de Rescate (Ransom Room) which holds an intriguing myth worth checking out. Also, the stonework is impressive and was likely used long ago as a part of an Inca sun temple.
There are a number of historical sites outside of Cajamarca that are interesting to visit including the Ventanillas de Otuzco and Cumbemayo. Also, the thermal hot springs just a few miles east of downtown are incredibly relaxing and where the Incas themselves likely bathed. The countryside surrounding Cajamarca is lovely and home to some stellar hiking routes. Along these routes, explore both natural phenomenon and archaeological sites. One might even stop in villages for a meal or to stay overnight.