Our flight from The Galapagos took us back to Guayaquil where caught a night bus over the border and into a place called Mancora, to begin our Peru adventure. Thankfully we were smart enough to pre-book our tickets for this trip a week previously when we arrived into the bus station in Guayaquil from Banos. The “bus station” is more like a gigantic shopping centre, three floors high, over 100 ticket offices, a food hall and any amount of shops. It was chaotic for sure. We went with a company called Civa which was a really good choice, we had big reclining seats and even got a packed lunch!
The migration offices at the “Aguas Verdes” border crossing, between Huaquillas in Ecuador and Tumbes Peru are in the same building, right next to each other. The bus let everyone off to queue and waited nearby which was very handy. Unfortunately, even though it was 1am in the morning, we had a 2 hour queue to get stamped out and in. The wait was outside in uncomfortable heat and very hungry mosquitoes which was not ideal!
We reached our first stop in Peru, Mancora, at about 6am that morning after a 9 hour journey. Naturally enough the place was very sleepy but we found a lovely policeman who helped us call a moto-taxi to our accommodation. I’m pretty sure we saw more moto-taxis in Mancora than other form of transport and we enjoyed many fun journeys in these with our bags stored snugly on the back!! As we arrived about 6 hours before check in we were grateful for the hammocks in the garden and used any clothes we had loose to cover up from the bugs before getting some shut eye in front of the sea.
Mancora is a small beachside town brimming full of surfers and gap year students. There is one main street but aside from that all the side streets are basically compiled of sand. There is a huge saturation of hostels, surf shops, board rentals and palm roofed beach cafes filling the little town. The transition from The Galapagos to another beach was bearable but without a doubt we were very gloomy!! We spent our time there planning the next few weeks in Peru, and sampling as many of the wonderful cafes and restaurants the place has to offer as we could. For such a small place, Mancora has an amazing spread of high quality restaurants and cafes and while most people come here for the surfing and parties our memories will definitely be the food (typical)!
We started our gastronomic experience in a beach hut called green eggs and ham (Dr Seuss!). It was in the same beach hut as Papa Mos milkshakes which was a much needed refreshing treat!
On Sunday we brunched in Cafe Del Mundo. This was a gem as we were struggling to find any places that were open (that unpredictable Sunday vibe catching us out again). When the waiter here also told us they would not be serving food I asked him for some recommendations but he in turn asked the chef to stay on and serve us. He was our friend already! It was a French inspired cafe and we enjoyed chatting to our French waiter who had actually done his Erasmus year in Ireland and had even been to Sligo! It turned out the cafe was actually closing before the owners went to Lima on vacation for a week so we were very lucky indeed..crepes and coffee all round.
A cafe named “Monkey Café” became very familiar with our faces, primarily because the coffee was really really good, and secondly because the wifi actually worked! We spent lots of time there planning the weeks ahead in Peru over iced lattes and homemade lemonade.
We were served the best meal so far on our trip at a restaurant called “La Mosca en la Sopa”. It was definitely a step above our usual jaunts but we were getting a bit tired with the thoughts of eggs, rice and beans again…and we even splashed out with desert, flashpacking/backpacking – who cares!!
Finally, The Beef House. We ate here before catching a 14 hour night bus and absolutely demolished two of the chunkiest steaks ever which cost us the equivalent of about €8. Even though I was slightly disappointment to break my steak abstinence before reaching Argentina (only took a few seconds of convincing!!), I’ve never seen two people so happy to see green vegetables in their lives!!
Aside from the surfing there is a further big attraction to travelers visiting Mancora and that is Loki hostel, it is centrally located and bursting with atmosphere. While we weren’t staying here, we had a 10 hour period to kill on Monday before we caught a night bus to take us south, and we spent much of it with a visitors pass (free) to Loki! The place was packed and with a refreshing pool, games of giant jenga, pingpong, volley ball, several happy hours and a really cool crowd, it turned out to be a great way to pass our time and experience this hot spot without staying there.
The night bus was going to take us to a place called Chimbote where we would look for a further bus to take us to Huaraz. Cruz Del Sur was the company of choice this time and things just kept getting better for us transport wise. It was certainly the highest standard of bus so far and our facilities were more akin to a flight. We had a personal TV screen each as opposed to the large screens playing Spanish movies at full volume and it was a welcomed change to have silence, earphones and English subtitles! We also got a pillow, blanket, dinner and breakfast. And if our reclining chairs weren’t enough to keep us entertained we also had torches and chargers each! I comfortably slept for the majority of the 14hour journey!!
We had an hour wait in Chimbote for a bus to take us the rest of way to Huaraz. Our experience on Cruz Del Sur the previous hours was like a vicious circle, it was so amazing for that journey but it was very unrealistic as a bus standard generally. So the following five hours on a standard bus to Huaraz seemed like some of the longest ones ever!!