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A perfect weekend in the whereabouts of Máncora and Tumbes

Jorge Riveros-Cayo

Yayo Lo´pez; Shutterstock

In northern Peru, the point where the desert woodlands run up to the Pacific Ocean, the summer season seems endless and the food is an infinite temptation – the perfect place to enjoy any time of year

 

Day 1

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8 a.m. Between mangroves

In order to see the hundreds of migratory and native bird species, and perhaps even spot the (endangered) American crocodile, you’ll need to wake up early. The Los Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary is a protected natural area which contains preserved dry equatorial woodlands and Pacific tropical forests. In this space between the ocean and the rivers, the mangrove forest looms atop muddy waters with hanging branches and exposed roots that can reach up to 13 feet [4 m] long. There are five dominant species, the most common being the red mangrove, which can measure up to 49 feet [15 m]. The mangrove forest can be explored by rowed canoe or motorboat; it all depends on the number of visitors.

 

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1 p.m. Powerful lunch

Despite their unattractive appearance, black shells are considered a delicacy in Peruvian cuisine. No visit to Tumbes would be complete without trying the most highly appreciated of the 24 shellfish species native to the mangroves. Cebiche and rice made with black shells are specialties of Mr. Teo´filo Ima´n Ipanaque, who owns Chimu´, a simple cebicheri´a that offers extraordinary food. They say that black shells are a powerful aphrodisiac.

 

5 p.m. Afternoon in Zorritos

The best place to spend the late afternoon is by the ocean, taking a dip in the pool or lighting up a cooker while enjoying a cool breeze. In Zorritos, a beachside town located an hour from the airport in Tumbes, the hotel Casa Andina provides these options. If you get hungry, order a majarisco: a typical regional dish that combines fish and shellfish with a kind of seasoned pure´e of green bananas, saute´ed with garlic, onion and salt.

 

Day 2

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7 a.m. Into the sea

You need to get up early to catch the boat in Los O´rganos, a seaside town south of Zorritos. For four hours, you’ll sail on the ocean where you can observe seabirds and dolphins, travel the migratory route of humpback whales or swim and scuba-dive with green turtles. The boat passes by several points, including Cerro del Encanto, El N~uro, Quebrada Verde, Puerto Rico and Cabo Blanco, a legendary locale which Ernest Hemingway visited in 1956. The high point of the experience is getting to try artisanal fishing, such as handlining, and sampling whatever you catch in a delicious cebiche. This is as fresh as it gets.

 

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2 p.m. Morgan’s luck

In Vichayito, a village near Los O´rganos, you’ll find the house run by chef Santiago Solari Morgan. Educated at Le Cordon Bleu in London, Morgan decided to leave his life in Lima behind and move to northern Peru. There, he opened the Palo Santo nursery, built bungalows to accommodate visiting friends, as well as a pool, and reopened his restaurant N~aylamp, where he prepares extraordinary dishes like mango cebiche with shrimp or lobster steamed with ginger and clarified butter.

 

6 p.m. A toast and dinner

You don’t need to stay overnight at the hotel Aranwa to enjoy a cocktail prepared by the ocean with the sun setting in the background. Later, head out to Ma´ncora, with its festive atmosphere and great restaurants. Inside La Sirena de Juan has a welcoming ambiance and the peruvian food with touches of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. There are a number of can’t-miss options: tuna tartare, grilled pork, pasta dishes and desserts like cherimoya merengue and caramel lu´cuma.

 

Day 3

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8 a.m. Activities in Máncora

During the day you can go horseback riding by the Pacific Ocean, learn to surf or practice other water sports, like kitesurfing or windsurfing. There are good schools for these sports with competent instructors.

 

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10 a.m. Recharge your energy

For those looking to boost their health with a massage or yoga session, the right place is DCO, home to one of the best spas in the region. The experience lasts around two hours and features therapies with aromatic oils. They also offer shiatsu and reiki sessions with an extraordinary view of the ocean.

 

1 p.m. Sazo´n & Sabor

Mo´nica Valverde Valencia arrived in Peru from her hometown of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, 15 years ago. Since then she has become known for her talent in the kitchen. Years ago, she met Aca´cio Correia, a Portuguese national who was born in Setu´bal, the land of good wine. Together, they decided to make Valencia’s lifelong dream come true: to open a restaurant where she prepares everything. Her star dish is the rolled flounder in shellfish sauce – the best way to wrap up a weekend in northern Peru.

 

LATAM has direct flights to Tumbes and Piura from Lima.

 

Learn more about this destination here.