Jessica Cropper reports from Peru
Mancora in the northwest of Peru is home to some of the counties best sandy beaches and, being only around 300 miles from the equator, it is also one of Peru’s sunniest places.
Mancora town is geared almost completely to backpackers and tourists, and the beach is lined with hostel after hostel, along with a huge array of eateries to choose from. There is a bustling market catering to all your souvenir and trinket needs, but get ready to do some serious bartering. It was difficult for me to get used to that when I first arrived in Peru, but they do expect it here.
A failure to barter is the fastest way to an empty wallet, especially if you look like a gullible and inexperienced foreigner.
My friends and I decided we wanted to avoid the chain hostel experience and go for something a little more personal, and so we stayed at Misfit Hostel – consisting of a array of brightly painted huts with a beach front location. The entire place had a wonderful laid-back vibe, and we really got the sense that it was run with the customer’s enjoyment in mind, rather than just to make a profit.
I would absolutely say that it’s the best hostel I have ever stayed at – however this doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly basic, so if luxury and comfort is what you are after, this would not be the best choice.
The food in the town is very affordable; I was ordering 2 or 3 course meals most night that were costing about 10 soles a time (around £2), so you shouldn’t go hungry or thirsty! However, as well as lazing around eating and drinking in the sun, there are a number of other activities for visitors to enjoy, such as snorkelling with turtles, surfing, or diving. But a word of warning, if you do wish to surf, it’s advisable to check the state of the waves beforehand and time your trip accordingly; when I went to book a surf lesson I was told by the vendor not to bother as at that time of year there were no waves. I was disappointed to say the least.
Getting around is interesting. The primary form of transportation is tuk tuks – essentially a rusty tin can on wheels offering little protection from the clouds of dust that hit you in the face as you bump along the uneven roads and dirt tracks at high speed. Again, remember to barter. Many of the drivers will charge as much as they can possibly get away with, and there was a group at our hostel who got horribly ripped off.
It was a great week, but I must say, by the end I was looking forward to going back to Lima and not being constantly coated in a thick layer of sand. But, despite the sandy woes, it is a gorgeous place, and a wonderful way to see Peru in all its glory.