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Peru’s Northern Beaches

July 22, 2012

Our first experience of Peru was the border town of Tumbes. This is chaotic to say the least with thousands of tuk-tuks/ motor-taxis on the road making driving difficult. We had to stop here to visit an ATM but left as soon as we could.

The Northern lowlands of Peru are primarily desert interspersed by small villages and towns which are not very pleasant. We drove through a number of these before reaching our first overnight stop at a small eco-lodge called 3 grillos which was on a long deserted beach. To our surprise there were two other campers there who had bagged the prime beach spots with palapas, leaving us in the car park for the night.

We encountered our first Peruvian Hairless Dogs here – a proper pedigree breed of dog which is native to Peru. I must say they are pretty ugly creatures – I definitely prefer dogs with fur !

We decided to only spend one night here so we pushed on South hoping to stay at the beach resort of Punta Sal – the hostel we tried here refused to let us stay – so we decided to keep on going, the beach here was nice but you couldn’t drive onto it to camp so it wasn’t really ideal for us. After the beaches of Central America the beaches of Western South America have a lot to live up to!

This left us driving through a flat, empty, bleak desert  for 150km before reaching the town of Chiclayo. Here we found a modern mall and supermarket which we needed. It didn’t take us long in Peru to come across the national drink, Inca Kola, which tastes like Drinking Bubblegum.

For the night we decided to stay in Chiclayo’s beach resort, El Pimentel, which was very run down and by all accounts quite a dangerous place.  We wouldn’t recommend it.

In the morning we drove through Chiclayo to the small town of Lambayeque. Right at the back of town – in a maze of sandy roads we found a small eco-hostel where the proprietor was happy for us to spend the night. With this arranged we set off 20km up the highway to the archaeological site of Tucume.

This was a pre-Inca city where a large number of pyramids were built and governed the surrounding areas. Unfortunately the rain in the years since it has been abandoned have virtually destroyed the buildings and it is now virtually impossible to tell that this was once a major city.

However a far flung part of the site has been excavated and protected under cover and this allows you to see how the buildings were decorated and gives a much better idea of what you would have seen 100’s of years ago.


The best thing about Tucume is that we saw some Burrowing Owls. I think this is the first time we’ve seen owls in the daytime.

Once we left Tucume we headed back to Lambayeque to visit the Museo de las Tumbes Reales de Sipan. The security is pretty heavy here and you are searched before entry to ensure that you haven’t got a camera with you !

The museum is actually really good with the excavated remains of El Senor de Sipan including a lot of gold and copper artefacts. It’s a slightly strange place to have the museum being on a backstreet in a town miles from where the burial site was found (in the town of Sipan) but is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

After the museum we drove back to the eco-hostal Mamita Helmita that we had arranged earlier in the day. Slightly bizarrely in the morning we went to pay and the proprietor told us it was free but that we could tip him if we wanted! What a minefield! We paid 15 Sols and have no idea if this was the right sort of amount or not but he seemed happy with it.

After being a little underwhelmed by the northern coast of Peru we decided to hit the mountains instead and from here drove North East towards Chachapoyas.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2012 11:56 am

    Those hairless dogs look weird!! Are they the bark and chase you kind, or more mellow than that?

    • July 31, 2012 7:55 pm

      They seem pretty chilled but I can’t bring myself to give one a stroke !

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