We weren’t supposed to stop in Mancora but I’d decided I just had to see whales because I was still on a wildlife viewing spree after Galapagos and I’d read that it was the season to see Humpback whales on the Pacific coast of Peru and Ecuador. Plus it broke up the trip from Cuenca to Huaraz which was over 30 hours with about 4 bus changes.
Getting from Cuenca to Mancora
We asked the tourist information centre at the Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca how to get to Mancora, she gave us two options. A night bus that left at 9.30pm or 10pm and you didn’t have to change bus however you would have to cross a border in the middle of the night. Or a day bus which cost $30 with a bus change. We went for the day option as we only like doing night buses when the journey is over 9-10 hours otherwise you either can’t check in because it’s like 4.30am when you arrive or you have to wait around until late with your bags and no where to go. We left at 7am with Pullman Sucre and arrived in Huaquillas around 4.5 hours later. We already had our ticket for the next bus which was with CIFA. As soon as we got off the bus a man asked if we were going to Mancora and took us to sit in a bus stop/office type thing. We waited for about an hour not really knowing what was going on until a lady came in and took us in a taxi to the border which was 15 mins away. We didn’t have to pay for this taxi so assume it was included in the bus ticket price. The border crossing only took about half an hour with no need for proof of onward travel. We then boarded the next bus and were on our way to Mancora arriving 3 hours later around 4pm . Everything went smoothly however I don’t know why we had to wait around in Huaquillas when we could have just gone to the border ourselves, also seeing as we were almost the last two to board the bus, instead of waiting in a bus company office, we could have waited at the border. But anyway, they have their systems and everything was fine so all good!
As soon as we got to Mancora we were like, oh this is one of those places. Typical beach town with the “I Love Mancora” singlets in all the stores and super burnt people walking around barefoot. We knew it was going to be touristy which is the exact opposite of what we usually like and that’s why we only booked for two nights but in the end Mancora actually won us over. We just loved the place we stayed, Casa Naranja. It was styled with all my favourite colours and had lots of hammocks for reading in which I didn’t actually get around to doing unfortunately so I wished we had have stayed longer. The owner, Eduardo was so helpful with telling us things to do in Peru and he ended up changing our entire plans, sending us to Chachapoyas, a place we’d never heard of but were so grateful for the recommendation.
The beach in Mancora isn’t that nice or anything. There were people surfing although the surf didn’t look that great and it’s pretty windy however people have spotted whales breaching from the shore and have had one come past them while paddle boarding which is crazy! Our favourite thing about Mancora were the sunsets and the cheap, BIG beers! 8 soles ($3 AUD) got us a litre bottle and these prices were of course hiked up being right on the beach. Both nights we just sat for hours talking and people watching and enjoying that beautiful sunset. The colours and the clouds were putting on a show and we were loving it!
Now I know I mentioned something about whales earlier which was supposed to be the main subject of this post however I’d been looking at so many photos of whale tails and whales breaching that I got my hopes up thinking that this was a definite thing we would see, but alas, it was not to be. We did see whales, a mum and a baby, and followed them for a long time. But only swimming and coming up for air and while that was cool, we didn’t get to really take in the sheer size of these spectacular animals and so I left feeling a little disappointed but that’s my own fault for having such high expectations so don’t get me wrong, if you want to see whales, this is the place to do it! We went with Pacifico Adventures and from what I’ve read this is the best company to go with. The tour is run by marine biologists who put in the time to do the whale watching tours as part of their research. It was very informative and the whales are only about 10m away, sometimes closer! We saw other wildlife like huge sea lions which were totally different to the ones we saw in Galapagos as well as blue-footed boobies which for anyone who hasn’t already seen these birds is really exciting! Even off the dock there were marine turtles swimming around and coming to the surface and heaps of pelicans! So in all it is a great tour to do. The cost is 130 soles ($50 AUD) per person, pick up and drop off to your hotel is included as well as a tour through the museum at the end which has lots of awesome photos and bones of whales, sharks and giant marlon and tuna! The tour can be done in both English and Spanish and only took about 3.5 hours including transport so is a great half day activity and then you can lie around on the beach afterwards because you’ve worked so hard all morning!
So if whale watching or sunset watching are things you enjoy then Mancora is the place to go! And spend more than 2 nights there, we regretted not staying longer.