Northern Peru: Booking it south and avoiding flying trash
After a long border crossing from Ecuador we tucked ourselves into a little campspot on the beach for a few days to regroup. The kids make good beach bums.
Also! We had our first encounter with Peru’s famous hairless dogs. Not to be confused with Mexican hairless dogs. Peru’s specimens were bred by pre-Incan cultures along the coastal regions but almost became extinct when the Spaniards arrived.
They are…weird. These guys weren’t completely hairless and had mottled skin which gave the animal with a slightly diseased look. Perhaps I just don’t have an appreciation for fancy dog breeds. What do you think?
The dogs had some pretty cushy digs, however. This restaurant/wedding venue doubled as an occasional campground.
Ok, let’s talk about the Panamerican Highway as it snakes through Northern Peru. This part of the coast is a surfer’s paradise with giant swells and hidden beaches. The land, however is ruled by vast stretches of wind-swept desert.
And, at the risk of sounding like an ungrateful tourist, Peru has a monumental garbage problem.
Let’s be honest: every country in the world is a massive trash disaster and the US, where we’re from, is certainly no different (and one of the world’s biggest offenders). So this is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I wish I better understanding of the politics and policies of how each country governs their resources but one thing we found was that Peru, for whatever reason, was bursting at the seams with garbage.
We’d just driven through Central and several countries in South America that all struggle with trash disposal but Peru was the worst, no question.
Immediately after crossing the border we noticed that the roads were littered with glass, metal, and blowing plastic bags. We saw 100+ truck drivers casually open a window and toss the entire remains of their lunches: soda bottles, sandwich wrappers, and chip bags were now gracing the highway and blowing across the dunes.
While passing the Nazca Lines we saw one guy open the back of his box truck and begin shoveling the contents a few feet away from one of the country’s natural treasures. It was disheartening, especially for a country that has spectacular natural monuments.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t beautiful and incredible places in Northern Peru; we cruised through exclusively on the PanAmerican Highway and didn’t take the time to properly explore the hidden gems. But it’s also a reminder of the realities of travel: not every new location will be your personal version of Eden. Each visitor will have their own experience and some will enjoy it, while others will want to move on to new locations.
Tumbes Area (Just south of the Ecuador Border). We spent two days recharging at a campground called Swiss Wassi Zorritos. This is a popular place for overlanders, although it’s expensive for families, as they charge adult prices for anyone over the age of 3. Wifi was decent close to the house and the beach was fantastic.
Porta Verde was my favorite campsite in Northern Peru, mostly because it was a quiet haven after the choas of Piura. It was also home to a fabulous pool and the hairless dogs! It’s actually a restaurant and event space, which might make it a popular/loud spot on the weekend but we cruised through on a weekday and had the place to ourselves.