Monday, April 7, 2014

Surfing, Cool Water, and Deserts - Nope, It's Not Baja

At first glance, the northern coast of Peru appears mostly like long stretches of barren desert between dusty towns and dirty fish camps. If you scratch below the surface, just a little, you find awesome little beach coves, world-famous surf breaks, and even some giant mountains/dunes beckoning you to climb. A lot of the north Peru coastline reminds us of the Pacific coast of Baja - cold water, sparse tourist infrastructure, beach camping, and uncrowded surfing.

After kiteboarding, surfing, and speaking embarrassing Spanglish with our new friends in Pacasmayo, we moved on to the famous surf point of Chicama (it's known as "the longest wave in the world"). Here, we surfed, but most notably, we started our daily habit of seeking out lucuma marcianos. Lucuma is a fruit endemic to Peru that has a sort of maple flavor. It's mixed with milk and probably a lot of sugar and put in a plastic bag to freeze into what they call a marciano (popsicle?). They are about 15 cents and are absolutely addictive.

Lucuma marciano - yum!

One of the locals in Chicama

Sunset over Chicama

After Chicama, we zipped our way down the coast. We made a stop at Huanchaco, famous among travelers and Peruvians for it's easy going beach scene, surfing, and the iconic reed boats that the locals still use for fishing (pictured below). We camped in a beach parking lot that was on the beach. We thought it was a great idea, until night fell. The problem wasn't late night partying, it was the overzealous security guards. They raced up and down the beach all night with their lights flashing, sirens wailing, and occasionally shining their spotlights on our truck. I think they thought we would like the security, but it just kept us from sleeping.

They are still using these giant single-person boats for fishing in Huanchaco

As we worked our way south, a surprise spot we found was a tiny cove called Playa Tortugas. We had fun conquering the 2000-foot dune-of-rocks right above the cove.There were tons of neighboring coves and off-shore islands that we could see from the top. The picture below was taken from the top of the mountain. I couldn't resist editing the picture with a teeny, tiny red circle around El Tigre, where we had a quiet and safe camping spot on the rocky beach.

Playa Tortugas in Northern Peru

A neighboring cove and island

While we were in Pacasmayo (previous post), we knew that we wanted to stop at a secluded surf spot called Punta Bermejo. We asked Juan Pablo if he thought it would be safe to camp on the beach. He told us it would only be safe if other people were around. Similarly, a guy we met at Playa Tortugas (above), told us it wasn't safe AT ALL. It turns out, this spot was completely quiet and safe, with many Lima residents coming to camp on the weekend. We ended up camping/surfing at Punta Bermejo for 2 weeks (only interrupted by a drive to the nearest town for supplies).

The orange and purple glow of a sunset over our campspot at Bermejo

Scott paddleboarding at Bermejo

We finally said goodbye to Bermejo, much to the relief of the local fisherman who may have been worried that we would spend the whole Peruvian summer there. Our next stop was the MUCH anticipated mountain range of the Cordillera Blanca about 5 hours away. Next blog!

Peru is much bigger than Ecuador. We covered a lot of miles over only 4 stops (Lobitos, Pacasmayo, Tortugas, and Bermejo). Unfortunately, the gas isn't cheap either (~$5-$6/gallon).

No comments: