Give yourself at least two hours to see Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán(Juan P. Vizcardo y Guzmán s/n, tel. 074/28-3977, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., US$3), 11 kilometers north of Chiclayo  in Lambayeque. This extraordinary museum, shaped like a Moche pyramid, contains the gold masks, scepters, jewelry, and other objects of the royal Moche tomb discovered by archaeologist Walter Alva in 1987. This museum succeeds in evoking the full grandeur and sophistication of the ancient Moche civilization (A.D. 100–850) in a way that adobe pyramids, now reduced to mud mountains, often do not.
After nearly 500 years of continuous tomb looting up and down the coast of Peru, it is nothing short of a miracle that these tombs remained undisturbed. Their meticulous excavation has unlocked many of the mysteries of Moche society, built around a hierarchy of kings, priests, and military leaders.
Come with a guide (or hire a Spanish-speaking one at the museum for US$5) who can explain Moche cosmography and point out things a first-timer would miss. For example, the king and priest discovered in these tombs are depicted on the ceramics and murals found throughout the 600-kilometer-long Moche empire.
To reach Museo Tumbas Reales, hire a taxi in Chiclayo  for US$5 or take a US$0.30 combi ride from Vicente de la Vega and Leonardo Ortiz, in front of the Otursa bus terminal. Slightly cheaper combination tickets are available at the Museo Tumbas Reales for those who plan on also visiting Huaca Rajada  and Túcume .