Location: North of the Country.
Area: 33, 317 km2
Mínimum: 420 masl (Tembladera)
Máximum: 3502 masl (Hualgayoc)
Cajamarca is located in the north of Peru. It limits to the north with Ecuador, to the south with La Libertad, to the east with Amazonas and to the west with Piura and Lambayeque.
Delightful and historic Cajamarca, the jewel of Peru's northern highlands, deserves to be better appreciated. Those who know the city often call it "the Cusco of the north," and comparisons to that tourist magnet farther south are not illegitimate. This stately and traditional mountain town possesses some of the same attributes as Cusco, but it is refreshingly free of many of the hassles associated with the gringo capital of South America.
Although it's surrounded by the Andes at an altitude of nearly 2,700m (9,000 ft.) above sea level, Cajamarca is a down-to-earth and unassuming place that doesn't get caught up in its colonial beauty and Andean grace. Townspeople, nearly all of them decked out in marvelously distinctive sombreros de paja (straw hats), merely go about their business.
Cajamarca was the site of a pivotal and horrifically violent moment in Peruvian history that presaged the downfall of the Inca Empire and the advent of Spanish colonial rule. In 1532, the Inca Atahualpa was attacked and captured by Francisco Pizarro and a small number of Spanish troops. Atahualpa offered the Spaniards a king's ransom for his release, telling his captors he would fill his prison cell to the roof with gold and silver many times over. The outnumbered but heavily armed Spaniards deceived the Incas and assassinated their leader. Within 2 years, they had captured the north of Peru and were on their way south toward Cusco.
Cajamarca is the largest town in a fertile agricultural region that is virtually unsurpassed in Peru for its luxurious, verdant countryside. The climate is pleasantly springlike, with clear blue skies, most of the year. The city's carnival celebrations in February are among the most raucous in Peru. Cajamarca is ringed by archaeological sites and handsome hacienda estates, which make getting out to the country a must. Cajamarca's rural roots and agriculture-based economy have been given a jolt with the discovery of one of Latin America's largest gold mines, Yanacocha, which has quickly become the region's largest employer and brought an influx of foreign executives and their families. (The mine is jointly operated by Peruvian and U.S. firms.)