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I can’t say I enjoyed crossing the Ecuador to Peru border at 2 o’clock in the morning, but that’s how it happened on our journey to Mancora, Peru.
We misjudged our journey from Guayaquil in Ecuador to Mancora Beach in Peru. We left for Guayaquil without know that the big scheduled busses only transit at night.
This meant we arrived on the sketchy outskirts of Mancora beach at the delightful time of 4.30am.
From Ecuador to Peru
On the way to Peru we spent a long day in Guayaquil, Ecuador in the southern most part of Ecuador before heading into Peru.
Guayaquil is the second largest city in Ecuador. It is a popular transit hub for backpackers heading into Ecuador from Peru of vice versa. After visiting the popular Iguana Park and stopping off for supplies we headed to the large bus station in Guayaquil.
The big busses that cross the border into Peru from the main bus terminal in Guayaquil leave at specific times. Unbeknownst to us at the time.
This meant when we arrived and had just missed the last bus. We then had to wait until the evening to catch the next bus heading for Peru.
Transport from the bus station into the main city is $1 however, if you don’t want to head into the city of Guayquil you’ll be pleased to know the bus station is massive. It virtually has everything you could need, including lots of food options.
Arriving in Peru at 4:30am
After a long wait at Guayaquil and the 2:00am border crossing I mentioned earlier, we arrived in Mancora, Peru at the ripe old time of 4:30am.
There are a couple of things to note if you plan on doing this journey. Mancora does have a crime reputation, especially at this time of the morning so be careful when arriving.
Hostels can get fully booked, especially during the weekend so you’ll want to book something in advance.
Where is Mancora?
Mancora, located in the Mancora District is a popular backpacking spot for European but also South American backpackers. We noticed that almost all of the tourists in Mancora were from Argentina and Chile.
As mentioned the town of Mancora is on the northern coast of Peru and the gateway to an area known as the ‘Egypt of the Americas’, because of the all the sand.
The Pan-American highway cuts down the Peruvian coast and through this desertscape. This makes it the perfect starting point for our 17 day expedition down the coast to Lima.
Our plan was The Sechura Desert along the Pan-American highway from Mancora all the way to Lima.
It’s quite a distance to cover but the best tactic is to do it in small journeys spending time in selected destination along the way. Mancora became our first coastal stop in Peru of many.
Is Mancora safe?
I mentioned this slightly earlier so it is worth addressing.
There are rumors of robberies on the beach at night and tuk tuk drivers ripping off tourists.
We heard stories during our time in Mancora too and although we didn’t experience any crime we did try not to walk around with valuables at night.
I do know someone who was robbed in Mancora by a tuk tuk driver outside of a hostel and there are several similar stories online from backpackers.
That being said, I can’t say whether or not Mancora is safe. But I can only warn anyone visiting to be cautious of the dangers.
Where to stay in Mancora
Before I start with where to stay in Mancora I would like to point out one place you should not stay in Mancora, Peru.
The Point Mancora Beach was a recommendation we had been given a few times by other travellers. We arrived at The Point at 4:30am and were unable to check in. Nevertheless it looked to be the perfect backpacker hotesl.
We checked in to The Point Mancora Beach only to later find it to be the most bedbug infested hostel in all of Latin America. For more information on this check out my TripAdvisor review.
Loki hostel Mancora
When arriving in Mancora, head straight to Loki hostel Mancora aka. Loki del Mar, the budget and backpacker friendly hostel chain that can be found throughout Peru.
After staying at the Loki hostel, Mancora and having an incredible Loki experience we went on to stay at 3 other of the Loki hostels throughout Peru and Bolivia.
Loki hostel, Mancora is the perfect hostel for backpackers on a budget looking to have the perfect South American traveller experience.
You’ll meet a bunch of other travellers staying at the hostel chain and automatically find yourself involved in fun and activities.
Situated on the main street in Mancora, in a much safer location than The Point. You’ll be able to find Loki del Mar very easily from the big wooden gate entrance.
Loki del Mar everything you’d expect from a party hostel with a lot more. The actual hostel itself is gated and only guests can get in, or people can purchase day passes to enjoy the facilities.
There’s a great big pool, clean dorms, a fun bar and beach access from the hostel.
At Loki hostel Mancora you can expect daily and nightly events and activities, most involve a lot of fun and alcohol.
It’s likely you’ll hear the word ‘blood bomb’ more than once during your stay at the Loki hostel chain.
One of the big benefits of staying at Loki hostel, Mancora is the budget friendly nature of the hostel chain. Rooms are very well priced with some dorms for as little ad $8 per night, food is also very good value for money. Along with food, drinking is very budget friendly.
Loki hostels are chashless which means you are given cards or wristbands to put all your food and drinks on and you pay up at the end. This can be risky of course if you aren’t good with your budgeting or self control!
The best things to do in Mancora, Peru
The beach itself in Mancora is the main attraction families, tourists, backpackers and locals fill the beach during the day.
There’s surfing and sunbathing along with great places to eat and chill on the shore line.
By nightfall the beach is alive with partying, hundreds of tourists visit the many booming beach bars on the beach each evening.
Be careful though, the waves and tide eat up most of the sand so it can be a bit wet and sometimes dangerous.
I briefly mentioned before, but Mancora Beach in Peru is a huge surf spot. If you enjoy watching surfing or surf yourself you’ll want to head to the beach through the day to catch some waves.
There are a wide range of surf shops selling and loaning surf boards for anyone hoping to give it a go. Lessons can also be booked.
Along with Loki hostel, Mancora there are some other top party hostels in Mancora, Peru. You’ll want to make sure you stay at one of these during your time in the town.
There’s a lot of fun to be had at Loki and as mentioned this one is definitely my recommendation.
Believe it or not there are so many small clothing shops and craft shops in Mancora, Peru. You can buy clothes, shoes, towels and all the typical things you’d expect from a coastal resort.
You can also find loads of amazing crafts and dream catchers. Something I became obsessed with whilst staying in the beach town.
If you want to spend a day shopping in all the small stalls and shops you will be spoilt for choice.
Turtle Tours in Mancora
Mancora is also a popular destination for ‘turtle tours’.
I’m very conscious of exploiting animals for tourism and would never write about something I thought was unethical towards animals.
During our time in Mancora we had seen multiple advertisements selling turtle tours.
We took some time to inquire at a few places to weigh up what a ‘turtle tour’ really was.
We found out that a turtle watching tour simply consists of you being picked up at your hostel and taken to a popular turtle area then dropped into the sea to float with the possibility of seeing wild sea turtles.
The tour takes place in the wild – there are no nets and no man handling of turtles. The tours from Mancora to the popular turtle area up the coast cost 45 Peruvian Soles which is roughly $13.
I had my reservations at first and worried that if the tours turned out to be something else I’d regret my experience in Mancora.
From what I experienced in Mancora the tours are well organised and everything appears to be ethical.
I’m not sure why there are so many turtles in the area and I hope they haven’t been lured here for the wrong reasons.
We were in an open space with no nets or cages and I would really like to believe that nothing of these sorts do actually go on.
Is Mancora, Peru budget friendly?
The Peruvian economy
The Peruvian economy is one of the weakest we’ve seen, we’ve noticed from the time we’ve spent here that everything is extremely cheap. The local currency is Peruvian Sol with around 3.5 Sol to the Dollar.
With this in mind you can eat very well in Mancora for a comfortable price, $4 for a menu del dia of two courses and a drink.
There’s an abundance of restaurants with set menus in Mancora and even the hostels that offer food come at a reasonable price.
When we didn’t eat out we ate at our hostel Loki from a large and budget friendly menu.
You’re looking at paying 15 Soles ($4.25 US) for two large courses and a drink at most of the restaurants by the beach.
Most meals are served with a drink and come with meat or fish – fresh from the ocean and either chips rice or pasta. The drink of choice in Mancora is a delicious maracuya juice (that’s passion fruit to you and I).
Mancora, Peru budget breakdown
The below Mancora budget is based on one person staying in a dorm room/bed at Loki hostel, Mancora Beach. This includes eating and drinking at the hostel and out in a local restaurant.
This also includes additional budget for drinking on the beach and a turtle tour or surfboard rental.
Fun is optional and it’s likely you won’t use transport! Meaning a rough daily budget for $50.
Where to eat on a budget in Mancora?
There are SO many places to eat in Mancora, most offering menu del dias. Or happy hour deals. As mentioned above you can usually get two courses and a drink for around $5 dollars if you eat locally.
Green Eggs and Ham is A quirky Louisiana-style house turned restaurant that serves up a range of delicious snacks and breakfasts, try the battered sweet potato fries there oddly delicious.
There’s no set menu but it’s reasonably priced to begin with and maybe the best view in town!
Snacks are very cheap and you can pick up plantain crisps almost everywhere.
Why visit Mancora Peru
People tend to write off little Mancora when they hear about the robberies that can take place or the comparisons made to Montañita.
Try it for yourself and avoid the negative associations with crime. Like anywhere if you go looking for trouble you’ll find it.
The location of Mancora is extremely budget friendly and there’s always a crowd of backpackers and friendly travellers alike arriving in Mancora at 4am on one of the large late night buses.
Mancora is simple compared to Montañita. It’s a pleasant place to spend a few days soaking up the sun, recharging your batteries and dining on Peruvian foods. Especially considering the majority of set menus are budget friendly.
There are little efforts to attract backpackers to this spot. But the streets are always animated with holidaying South Americans from neighbouring nations. The tourism here is thriving and there’s no desire to attract backpackers in their masses.
The presence of a chain Loki hostels and Loki hostel Mancora seems to be for the benefit of South Americans rather than Europeans. Although I’m not complaining after my fun filled time at Loki Mancora despite the lack of other non-South American backpackers.
Mancora has its flaws and its horror stories but sitting on the terrace of Green Eggs and Ham it’s easy to forget them.
Before you head to Huaraz or Lima consider Mancora, if it’s good enough for the locals it should be good enough for you. And most of all you certainly never feel like you’re on a European party island like Montañita makes you feel.