Well after nearly two months of being in Ecuador we made our way back into Peru (again). Since the mangroves did not work out in Guayaquil, we thought we'd try in Tumbes which is on the high north coast of Peru. We got a bus from Guayaquil to Tumbes which cost $12 and we finally arrived to Tumbes, which is a s*** hole. We took a CIFA bus and was dropped off at their terminal and immediately upon getting off the bus we were bombarded by a Peruvian man asking us if we needed a mototaxi, a hostel, if we needed to change money and if we wanted a mangroves tour, overall it was completely overwhelming.
He told us about a tour but it seemed really sketchy and we really weren't sure what we'd be getting so we said we would think about it. He dropped us off at a hospedaje (after trying two prior ones that were charging way too much) and we went in search of food and a tour. Now I said Guayaquil was my second least favorite city we visited, well Tumbes was by far number one. It is not equipped for tourists and we were clearly the only white people so we drew a lot of attention. After an hour of wandering we finally came upon a Chinese restaurant we could eat at and we decided not to do a mangrove tour because they all seemed really dodgy and we didn't know what we were going to get. We got back to the Hospedaje (which was a crap one) and decided to get the F out and leave the next morning for Mancora, which was another adventure in itself.
We got a mototaxi to the CIFA station because we were told they have buses to Mancora but when we got there they said they didn't at all, only to Lima. So we got in another mototaxi and it took us right across the street from our Hospedaje where there were collectivos going to Mancora. We waited for about 45 minutes until the collectivo was full and paid 12 soles for the two hour ride. At last we made it to Mancora.
Mancora is advertised as a tourist surf town but I would disagree with that, but more on that in a bit. When we got to Mancora we checked into Loki Hostel because it was cheap and it looked nice but it was a mistake. Loki is THE party hostel in Mancora so if you don't want to sleep then that's the right place but it was definitely not my cup of tea. However, we ended up staying three nights there because it was only 23 soles a night, a very basic breakfast was included, they had a nice pool, right on the beach and it was in town.
We also met back up with Erik and Aleah here but they were staying at Misfits Hostel which is on the outskirts of town. We spent two of our nights hanging out at Misfits so we ended up moving to this hostel which was way better. It was 25 soles a night, better breakfast included, a kitchen, right on the quiet part of the beach, and it was run by three awesome guys. The upside and downside to this hostel though was location.
But as I said before Mancora should not be advertised as a tourist surf town. My birthday was on November 27th so I decided to go surfing. There is really only one spot for surfing on the entire beach and it's only a couple hundred feet and there's always surfers crowded in that one spot. So during my surfing attempt there were about ten other surfers and a paddle boarder with limited waves since it was low tide and a small space. Needless to say, surfing was a bust. So if you want to do some surfing go to Montanita, Ecuador or Huanchaco, Peru as they are better.
Another thing people need to know about Mancora is that a lot of tourists get mugged there. In our six days there we heard of four separate occurrences. One night myself, Michelle, Erik, Aleah and few other new friends went out to the beach bars for some salsa dancing. At one point Erik left to go to the bathroom and en-route four locals approached him and pulled him outside to an alley, pulled a knife on him and mugged him. Luckily though he only had 10 soles on him. A few days later (Erik and Aleah left to continue on so we had said our final goodbyes) we were with a few other people out to lunch. Afterwards a few of us walked back to Misfits along the beach and three others had an errand to run in town so after they walked back to Misfits through the town. By this point it was 3:00 in the afternoon and right outside the hostel entrance two guys approached them, pulled a gun on them and mugged them. The guys at the hostel said that it was the fourth incident in a week and they had never seen that much crime to tourists in such a short span of time. So I'm not sure why this particular week but it still freaked everyone out. So anyone who goes to Mancora just be extra cautious but Misfits really was an awesome hostel. Too bad it's just a pain to get to and from the rest of the town.
Mancora is another beach stop but there are better choices. The water is cooler than Montanita but not as cool as Huanchaco. The weather is about the same along the coast but there really isn't much to do in Mancora. However, there is a chance to snorkel with green sea turtles. In order to do so you can take a tour, which is pricier and not necessary or you can go on your own. In order to do it yourself there are some things to know.
First take a bus from Mancora to Los Organos at the EPPO bus station, this will cost 1.50 soles. After about 15-20 minutes you will arrive to Los Organos where you will need to take a mototaxi to where the turtles are, this'll cost about 20-25 soles round trip. After about another 15 minutes you arrive to a fishing pier. You will have to pay 5 soles to enter and then you walk onto a pier that is crowded with fisherman. There are a few women there who have masks & snorkels to rent, another 10 soles, and then you walk down a few steps and can see the turtles from above. The reason why the turtles are there is clear, the women are feeding them scraps of fish. But you can jump into the cold murky water and swim with them. They are used to this so they come incredibly close to the swimmers but their purpose for being there is solely the food. When we went we were the only ones in the water at first with four to five turtles, and one was incredibly massive while the others still had room to grow. For about ten minutes Michelle and I had the water to ourselves and enjoy the turtles company but then about eight people joined us, half of them were screaming kids. So Michelle and I took turns sharing the mask and taking closer underwater looks at them but then the whole situation got overwhelming. There were so many people swimming around these turtles, freaking out and accidentally kicking or hitting them as they treaded water. So after about 30 minutes Michelle and I left. Overall an interesting endeavor.
So if you like to party then you can go to Loki in Mancora, otherwise it is not a necessary stop. Feel free to work on your tan but I preferred the Ecuadorian coast. All of the Peru coast is also desert. We're heading down more of the Peruvian north coast so my next blog will be from Chiclayo and Trujillo.