Along Dusty Roads, Mancora (Peru)
Chances are beach life is not the first thing springing to mind when traveling to Peru. However if you do intend to visit the Peruvian North coast be prepared to fall, to fall madly in love, with the small town of Mancora.
Mancora is a fascinating fisherman’s town that has grown significantly over the years. Although there’s still an unmistakably laidback vibe to it, Mancora is also beautifully chaotic due to its many moto-taxi’s rambling the dusty streets. There’s a certain charm to this little desert town with its raw, rough around the edges touch. Dirt roads, unfinished buildings. Stray dogs and cats. Loud music. People sleeping on benches, in hammocks. There’s beauty to find in simplicity, in the bare ugliness holding Mancora together. There’s a sense of freedom when roaming these burning hot soils, bare footed, the sun fiercefuly shining. Being an observer, watching life unfold itself. Intriguing Mancora, where the earth meets the ocean. Where the people are profoundly connected to their land, their roots. Where the wind blows, whispering tales of ancient history. Where the waves never fail to kiss the shores, but never tell their secrets.
How to get there
Mancora is easily accessible from Ecuador or main cities like Trujillo and Lima, Peru. There are relatively cheap and comfortable (night) buses going either way. We traveled from Ecuador, Guayaguil, in about 8 hours to Mancora. The new border-crossing is, unlike before, safe and uncomplicated. You can exit Ecuador, and enter Peru in the same building, simply by changing lines. If traveling by bus you will be guided through and be able to hop on the same bus continuing your journey.
What moves Mancora
Spending your days hanging at the beautiful stretch of Mancoranian beach is tempting. The sand golden brown, the water crystal clear. The rocky coastline a treasure-trove of marine-life. Shells, seahorses and small octopuses are found in abundance. Sea-lions, whales, pelicans. All to be spotted if patient (whale season is August, September). Your tan getting out of hand lastly? The famous Peruvian cuisine starting to leave its marks on your body? Make sure to get moving (kite) surfing, taking a yoga or Muay Thai class.
The main surfing spot is right along the center of town and can’t be missed. It’s a left pointbreak which serves beginning surfers as well as more advanced surfers. Depending on the season the wave can be utterly crowded, but the locals are mostly friendly, patient and willing to help. If you’ve never surfed before I’d highly recommend taking a lesson at ‘Surf Point Mancora’ which is the local surfschool of Alan Valdiviezo, a kind-hearted and open-minded human being who will go out of his way to make your surf-experience worth while. Ask, and he’ll undoubtedly make it happen for you. Prices are 15 dollar a class (includes all day board- and wetsuit rental).
Right next to the surf school is Hotel del Wawa which has (apart from great food and comfy beach chairs) daily yoga classes, overlooking the ocean. Mats are provided. Just bring your enlighted self and enjoy a few moments of peace. Prices are 8 dollar a class.
While you’re chilling at the surf school ask for Alan’s brother Renzo who’s the local Muay Thai teacher. He’s an experienced fighter and teacher and does a great job coaching adults ànd kids. Beware, some (day after) muscle pain is inevitably. Prices about 3 dollar a class.
Sights to see
Los Organos -swimming with turtles.
A mere 10 minutes busride away is the small village of Los Organos. A sleepy town where time seems to be beautifully non-existent, the people are friendly and the sea food is fresh. Take some time to unwind and take in real Peruvian life before heading to El Nuro. El Nuro is a local community which is dedicated to sustainability, providing education and preserving the sea turtles that naturally reside in the El Nuro waters. However there are two sides to the story as the turtles are being fed by the locals. And, unfortunately, feeding wildlife is in essence a no-go. If you do decide to visit you’ll get a life-vest and you can swim with the turtles. The turtles are not caged, there are no nets. They are free to come and go as they like. Busride to Los Organos is 0,60 dollar. Entrance fee is 1,50 dollar.
Poza de Barro hotsprings
In the middle of nowhere, solely lighted by the moon and thousands of dazzling stars you’ll find Aguas Calientes, a natural hot sulfur spring in its purest form. An ongoing volcanic geological phenomenon that pushes the Nazca Plate under the South American Plate. Where relaxing, hot water bubbles up from the rocky under ground, and where the beauty of Mother Nature takes your breath away instantly. For a more crowded, yet better lightened, experience visit the hotspring by day. You’ll need a car to get there, and pay a small fee to enter the deserted Quebrada region.
Sunset at El Faro
Walk up to the lighthouse, located on a hill overlooking Mancora. The view truly stunning in its simplicity, add a sunset and you’ll never want to leave again. Once sitting on that hill myself I realized I had fallen,madly in love with Mancora. And I didn’t want to leave. Not yet.
Mancora can be as expensive as you’d like it to be. There are quality restaurants to be found, which serve great vegetarian, vegan or Thai food. However I’d prefer the small restaurants located near the Mercado. They serve lovely two course meals for less than 2 dollar, including drinks. Also while strolling along the boulevard there are great options for rice and fish for 1,50 dollar. Don’t be afraid engaging conversation with the locals, they are very friendly and genuinely interested in you and your journey. Everything in Mancora is within walking distance, but there is an abundance of moto-taxi’s available which drop you off anywhere (within the village) for 0,60 dollar. Luggage and/or surfboards are absolutely no problem to Peruvians.
I wish you a happy journey. And if you see me dancing in the Peruvian sun, running into the ocean. If you see me barefoot, meditating, my hair wavering in the wind. Will you smile at me?