Máncora is a laid back little surfing village situated on the northern coast of Peru and was our first stop after crossing the border from Ecuador. It’s a great place to relax by the beach, learn to surf and get acquainted with Peruvian cuisine … especially ceviche!
While we were there I was lucky enough to score a decent little 2ft swell rolling through the local break. There was a surfboard hire shop on the beach although sadly they had no bodyboards (my usual weapon of choice) so I hired a long board instead.
Unfortunately standup surfing was just as hard as I remember (with my height I don't have a great centre of balance), but over the next few days I tried different length boards and managed to stand up on a couple of waves in the end - success!
In hindsight, as a total learner I should have taken lessons as the local instructors paddle out with you and push you into the waves with priority over the lineup! At least this way I would have caught more waves and had a better chance of practising my stand up technique.
The Ceviche Challenge
Ceviche is a simple dish of raw fish cured in lemon/lime juice and red onion with a hint of chili. In Peru it’s usually served with a few slices of blanched sweet potato and fried plantain (a type of banana) on the side with toasted corn for a bit of crunch. When they get the balance of flavour just right, it's sensational – fresh, light, soft, crunchy, sweet and sour.
But the best part of ceviche is savoured at the end ... ‘Leche de Tigre’ (Tigers Milk) which is the name for the fishy/citrus marinade leftovers of the dish. You are often given a spoon to enjoy the intoxicating potion which is believed to be both a hangover cure as well as an aphrodisiac … bring on the ceviche!!
After our first try we were both hooked and subsequently took on the 'Ceviche Challenge', having it for lunch every day we were there. We couldn’t have chosen a better place to enjoy the fruits of the sea than Máncora, where it is reeled in off shore in abundance.
Where we stayed:
While in Máncora we stayed at Kimbas Bungalows, which had an authentic Balinese feel to it with manicured gardens, palm trees, a pool and outdoor lounge area.
The rooms are decent sized two story bamboo huts with a thatched roof, mosquito netting, fridge and safe. Ours also came with a private bathroom and balcony with deck chairs and a hammock. We'd recommend asking for a second story room, which will give you a better beach breeze and more privacy than the ground floor huts.
Kimbas is located at one end of the main street, 5 minutes walk from the beach and close to all bars and restaurants but far enough away from the beach-doof party vibe to get a decent nights sleep. Unless of course like us you happen to be in town when the revered ‘Virgin of Peru’ parade passes through, which means you will be blasted with brass band death march music all night … hmmm now that was a fun night!!
Overall we really enjoyed our time in Máncora, it was way more chilled out than we were expecting it to be, but that's another advantage of travelling outside of peak season. After 6 weeks travelling through the Andean highlands, it was great to be by the coast again and soak up some beachside bliss.