Peru’s coast is a desert, with nothing but sand and bleak emptiness between the cities.
The string of pleasant beach towns dotted along it are very popular, thanks to the low rainfall and year-round sun, teamed with (what I’m told is) great surf.
I started my journey through Peru in Lima and was heading north to Ecuador, so I did not visit any towns on the south coast.
I stayed in Huanchaco for two weeks at Surf Hostel Meri, and in Mancora at Loki Del Mar for three nights, which perhaps suggests the difference in atmosphere in the two towns! Most travellers I spoke to had a similar plan.
Huanchaco is a quiet, sleepy place, famous for the pier
and the fishing boats made from reeds that line the beach
The town is not the prettiest beach town I’ve seen. Lots of the buildings are one story ‘boxes’ but some houses are charming in their own way
and there are several leafy parks. The graffiti
that covers the town makes Huanchaco distinctive.
Visitors and inhabitants alike tend to gravitate to the seafront, where the majority of restaurants, bars and hostels are to be found. It is worth, however, heading into the town and up the hill to see the pretty church
and the view out to sea across the rooftops.
There are lots of ruins around Huanchaco, which make good day trips. I took a collectivo to the huaca de la luna, just outside Trujillo.
The site is a series of temples built one on top of the other by the Moche culture, approximately 1500 years ago. The fantastic wall paintings have been preserved under the layers of adobe bricks, and archeologists are still excavating the huge site.
Time moves really quickly in Huanchaco. A lot of travellers I spoke to were staying put for a while, many taking surf lessons or Spanish lessons. I enjoyed my really chilled out hostel
I read lots, went to the beach, worked on my blog, and ate fantastic ceviche everyday. It was only when I left that I realised how long I had been there.
After a quick stop in Chiclayo, I continued north to party town Mancora. As I mentioned in my review of Loki hostel where I stayed, there is not much to do in Mancora. You go for the partying, the fantastic weather and the beach
but Loki’s pool is so nice that it was hard to drag myself to the sea! I had to make myself leave the hostel walls every now and again.
One excursion outside of Loki took us to a natural spring. We went by mototaxi
to a boiling hot pool in the middle of nowhere
where we joined some locals who were having a soak. The water bubbled and the mud at the bottom was good for your skin – apparently – so we smothered it on our faces!
I enjoyed a lazy few days in Mancora, laying on a sun lounger at my hostel all day