Early during our first day in Huaraz, two girls checked into our dorm, Priya and Ash, and said they’d booked on to a 10am tour to Llanganuco lake. Since we quite fancied visiting the glacier lake too we decided to join the tour. Big mistake. After a 3 hour bone shaking drive via Carhuaz and Caraz we arrived at the Huascaran national park by the shore of a small and not overly impressive lake. As the guide only spoke Spanish we had no idea where we were and what we were supposed to be looking at and thought it was a break to get some lunch. Back in the minibus our next stop was the actual lunch stop where we had to wait for over an hour for everyone else to eat. The tour continued driving up into the valley and into Yungay before stopping at the site of a memorial park where an avalanche had wiped out a village before stopping at a cemetery, a dulce de leche shop and a pottery barn. We were glad to get back into Huaraz, it wasn’t quite the scenic lake trip we expected. Only then did we realise there was a lovely 2 hour walk at the lake that would have taken us around to see the second lake. Partly our fault and partly a rubbish tour, they didn’t even give you time to walk to the second lake.
Anyway, that experience and a quick explore of the area near the hostel made up our minds to get out of Huaraz rather than staying to do any further hikes (we’d fancied the Laguna 69 hike but couldn’t bare the thought of doing the bone shaking drive into the mountains again). We booked a bus ticket out the next night then headed into the centre for pizza to celebrate. Huaraz isn’t a pretty town, it’s very modern, busy, dirty and dusty.
As there aren’t any particular sites in town other than another cathedral we spent the day waiting for our bus in the hostel on the roof terrace where we probably had the nicest views of the city anyhow. The bus journey back down to the coast wasn’t half as scary as on the way up although pretty much everyone on the bus was struggling with travel sicknesses. We had a bit of a surprise when we arrived in Trujillo at 4:30 in the morning rather than at 6:30 per Lonely Planet. We jumped straight in a taxi and headed to Huanchaco, a beach resort about 5km out of Trujillo, where we checked in to our room and went to bed.
That day, and the next day were chill days. We walked along the beach, ate in the European Chocolate Café, drank £1.25 Mojitos and generally watched the world go by. It’s not the most attractive of beaches (Rhys found a syringe) so we made the decision to keep moving north to Mancora and booked a night bus for our third day.
On the third day we caught a bus to Chan Chan, the largest Pre-Colombian city in South America and the capital of the Chimu Kingdom (at it’s peak in the 15th century before falling to the Incas). Back in town we spent 3 hours sitting on a concrete bleacher watching a BMX and skateboard competition. Some of the BMX riders were incredible, these guys just have no sense of self preservation. We ate in the Chocolate café again that night (having also had lunch there!) before heading in to Trujillo to catch our bus.
We arrived into Mancora at around 7am and walked up the hill to our hostel. It’s beautiful. We’re perched on the hill top with views over the beach and town. We have our own little bungalow with a hammock and chairs out front. The worst of it is the noise from town carries and it’s pretty loud here at night and every time you go into town you have to climb the hill to get back to our little haven. Mancora is extremely touristy with bars, restaurants and markets everywhere but it’s exactly the kind of place we’d been looking for to stop for a while with a beautiful beach, blue skies and every day sunshine. All up we’re intending to stay for 6 nights. The first day we explored and sat by our bungalow enjoying the view before going out to an expensive steak restaurant for a treat.
Today we had surf lessons at 10am. Before we even made it into the sea Rhys had kicked a rock and taken a chunk out of his toe and on his first attempt at surfing he hit the rocks in the shallows and took a chunk out of the other foot. After that though he was awesome. It took me a little longer but I got there in the end and our teacher (who only spoke Spanish) was very persistent and wouldn’t give up on me until I got it. After an hour we were knackered and headed back up to our hostel to bandage Rhys’s feet.
This afternoon we had a Spanish teacher come to our hostel for a private lesson. It was so nice to actually use my brain and learn something, being on holiday for 5 months does have its downside… After 2 hours we were fried, we’ve booked in for more lessons over the next 3 days. Rhys is sitting doing his homework now so we can go out for dinner (I did mine hours ago while he was playing Pokemon, no suprises there).