We arrived in Mancora the weekend of the preliminary presidential election and as a result a total alcohol ban. Not entirely sure why Peruvians are banned from having a tipple for 48 hours – perhaps they get too pissed that they forget to vote? Whatever the reason, the backpacker party surf spot of Mancora was unusually quiet. There were tourists about but lots of restaurants and bars were closed and the ones that were open had a somber (sober?) feeling to them.
All was not lost for beer loving Two Trekkers, as we found a ‘shop’ – which was just some lady’s home where she sells stuff, and she was happy to provide us gringos with beer, and continued to do so all weekend. Cheers.
There are loads of places to stay in Mancora and as we were there in April, most places were empty. This place gets absolutely packed over summer and prices go through the roof, so we would recommend going out of season as it is still hot beach weather, but you are actually paying what the hotels are worth. We stayed in a hospejage on a dirt road, 50 metres from the beach. We were the only guests. We paid 40s a night for a double room with bathroom (cold showers), cable tv, fan and wifi. Very basic but clean and I wouldn’t want to pay double or triple this price. It had a breezy terrace where we could watch the sunset but had loads of mozzies so do what we did and buy some coils to burn at night.
Mancora like everywhere in Peru has parts that are in complete disrepair and look half finished. It’s as if they decide to renovate or to add another level to their house, but run out of money so keep it looking like a dogs breakfast till high season rolls around. The roads in Mancora are mostly dirt and don’t have street names, but this kinda adds to the relaxed appeal. The people are pretty chilled as well and this is probably due to the fact that everyone is high. Beware (or not) the circling mototaxis who call out ‘moto?’ and when you say no call out ‘weed?’
The beach was cleaner then others further south which was encouraging to see, and we enjoyed some lovely walks and afternoon swims. We didn’t do much sightseeing here. Mostly we became beach bums, enjoying our prohibition beers and tasty ceviche and beachside barbecue dinners.
We also spent a night in Zorritos, which is about an hour north of Mancora. This place is even more chilled out, although we were told it gets just as packed as Mancora in the summer.
Loads of wildlife here, with huge black birds circling above and lots of funny orange crabs on the beach that creep into their holes in the sand when you approach. We stayed at a really cool hostel – Las Olas – which unfortunately doesn’t have any signage or an online presence. Look for a turquoise building overlooking the beach, decorated with surfy art and tiki totems.
This hostal also doubles as a bus office/stop for Cifa Transport (it does have a Cifa sign out the front) if you are heading to Ecuador. No need to go to Tumbes or back to Mancora. The Peruvian/Swedish owners are lovely and helpful, spend the whole time in their boardies and bikini and have two huge Great Danes. For 40s our room also had a beer fridge and a deck to enjoy ocean views and breezes.
We caught the 2.30pm Cifa bus to Guayaquil, Ecuador. It was painless so don’t believe all the online hype about the Tumbes Peru/Ecuador border crossing. As long as you go with a proper legit bus company, you will be fine. Immigration for both countries are in the same building, you stamp out and stamp in at counters beside each other. No dramas. Ecuador here we come!