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The Seductive North


Map of Tumbes/Mapa de TumbesLocation: the department of Tumbes is located in the extreme north of Peru, at 1,270 kilometers from Lima and only a few kilometers from the Ecuadorian border. The capital of the department lies on the right-hand or eastern shore of the Tumbes river and is an ideal departure point for visiting its many attractions.

Climate: subtropical, sunny during the greater part of the year. Two well-marked seasons: dry between April and November, with temperatures higher than 30C° (86F°), and rainy between December and March. Rain fall increases at times of El Niño. Although Tumbes is a very humid and warm city, covered every so often by cloud banks, the beaches on its nearby coast line offer sunshine some 300 days a year.

How to get there: Commercial flights arrive at Tumbes every day. For lovers of the road, the Pan-American highway is in excellent condition from Lima to Trujillo and in good condition from Trujillo to Tumbes (remember that the 1998 El Niño storms hit the Peruvian north particularly hard). Bus transport companies offer daily services along this route.

Where to stay: Diverse accommodation ranges from one, to three stars in the city of Tumbes; the ex Hotel de Turistas provides the best service. More interesting, however, are beach front hotels found all along the coast from Punta Camarón (in Zorritos) to Punta Sal, which has a well-known Club Hotel, numerous hostels and homes for rent are located at a nearby beach.

 Other attractions: the Hervideros hot mud baths at Bocapán canyon are unique and worth a visit. A trip to the border (either at Aguas Verdes on the Peruvian side or at Huaquillas in Ecuador) is a must for the bargain shopper. Mangrove swamps at Puerto Pizarro are an ideal spot for a boat tour through these saltwater jungles, followed by an excellent meal of conchas negras (black shellfish) and sea shrimp. For the nature lover, there are several canyons leading eastward (Pajaritos, Quebrada Seca and Fernandez, among others) that are excellent places to spend a day in the country under the shade of an old carob tree.

Recommendations: the inhabitants of Tumbes are known for their patience. Try not to make too much of an effort to change their habits or rhythms. Afternoon siestas are the norm here, so relax and let the north seduce you. Make sure to bring sunscreen  lotion, repellent and a good hat!

Boating on the Tumbes River.     A central Tumbes street with houses made of adobe and guayacan wood. Vegetable Armament!  A porotillo shows off its sharp spines, that protect its trunk against predators. Photo: Walter WustAn american crocodile, a species which is under threat of extinction.

Volume /Issue 14, Page 48
Edited  Lola Salas

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