The other side of Máncora

February 23rd, 2010

The sun-baked vacation capital of northern Peru is known for its wide beaches, warm waters, great surf and popular night-life scene. But these are not its only attractions. Take a moment to explore its peaceful dry forests or the thrill of adventure activities on offer.

By Milagros Vera of El Comercio

Little is it known that the resort of Máncora in the department of Piura offers more than warm water and great surf. Beyond these are many other activities to enjoy.

Whether alone, with a partner or as a family you can experience unforgettable adventures – peaceful or adrenaline filled and in the most beautiful of natural surroundings.

On horseback

The journey through the Fernández ravine, located in the middle of a tropical dry forest, begins in the home of the rural community of Máncora. Those who have never ridden before need not worry as the guides are always there to assist. Here the guides will show you how to guide the horse along the length of the route.

The entrance to the ravine, which happens to mark the boundary between Piura and Tumbes, is over very smooth ground and you’ll only see algarrobo trees. As you advance though, you could see herons, some robins and many more of the other 20 species of birds that inhabit this natural paradise.

A tropical climate and arid ground form a unique biosphere that is only found in Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and parts of La Libertad here in Peru.

“The tropical dry forest possesses a number of unique species. The white guayaquil squirrel, the dorsigris hawk and the white tailed magpie, among other birds”, explains a local guide.

On the journey you’ll come across huge trees that form corridors with their spiny branches. After passing through the tunnel of vegetation, visitors stop to take in a spectacular scene. The sight of the water from the stream that runs down the ravine arriving at the ocean is worth the journey. A stunning lagoon is formed here and time is needed to enjoy the scene.

Soon enough the sea breeze will lure you away to an even more beautiful location. At the end of the ravine, you’ll find a beach named the Playa del Amor. End your journey with a gallop along the sea shore.

The trip lasts three or four hours, but those with more time should take advantage of longer rides. The earlier hours of the day, or the later hours are the best – remember that the sun this far north is very strong, and the high temperatures in the height of the day make it difficult to see all the animals who spend this time hiding in the shade of the trees. These horseback tours cost around S/.165 or $58.

From high above

Another way to see the arid surroundings is proposed by Henri Peter who operates the Aeromoto circuit, 10 minutes out of Máncora.

This new tourist attraction is for those who like a bit more of an adventure. The circuit consists of four platforms located in different hills connected by steel cables. Visitors will slide along the cables with the help of a harness high above a ranch called La Caprichosa.

Speeds and distances are different between each platform allowing for a different experience each time. If you’re afraid of heights, the hardest part is the initial jump, but after you make it you’ll enjoy the sensation of flight and feel like king of the skies!

According to Peter, safety is guaranteed. “All the equipment and infrastructure has been reviewed and approved by a group of engineers,” explains. The fun can last a couple of hours, with a cost per person of around S/.100 or $35 – but book ahead in high-season.

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