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About Tumbes

History of Tumbes

The history of the first inhabitants of Tumbes dates back to the pre-Incan period and it’s linked to the Tumpis culture, a noted ethnic group of navigators, who reached to be considered the best of the Peruvian North coast. They were also expert sculptors using as main material different mollusk shells species of the region.

During the incan period, Tumbes was subdued to the power of the inca Pachacútec, and was transformed into an important administrative center of the incan culture. But it was during the peak of the inca Huayna Cápac control that Tumbes had an strategic relevance, building temples, roads and homes.

With the Spanish arrival in 1532, the incan culture and the West culture met in Tumbes territory. Then the Spanish knew for the first time the strength and vitality of the indigenous warriors; some fighted for the possession, while others resisted invasion at the named “Combate de los Manglares” (Manglares combat). Later, during the Independence war, Tumbes would be the first city to achieve its independence in January the 7th 1821.

At the armed conflict of 1941 against the neighbour country Ecuador, the people from Tumbes had an essential role, collaborating actively in the patriotic fight for defending the peruvian sovereignty. It was in 1942 that Tumbes raised as Department category, as recognition to its unconditional support, effort and sacrifice for achieving the victory of the Peruvian nation.

Helpful information

-The weather in Tumbes is very warm and dry, with maximum temperatures of 84 °F (29 °C) and minimum of 70 °F (21°C); that’s why it’s indispensable to have enough water to be hydrated.
-Bring sun lotion is also necessary (the higher is the protection degree, the better), because the strong sun can damage your skin.
-You should also take mosquito and “zancudo” (a kind of mosquito) repellent, they are abundant in tropical areas.
-For not paying more than others for a tour, take a shared taxi to Puerto Pizarro, because in Tumbes center due to the privilege location, they collect more expensive.
-If you have US dollars, change them on your travel agency or terminal, because since 9 a.m. the prices fluctuate and are lower. In some currency exchange houses you can change euros.
-If you want to process the documents to cross the border from Peru to Ecuador, avoid the private people to help you and go directly to the border ecuadorian station, it’s the best way of doing it.

How to get around Tumbes?

To get around Tumbes in the main means of transportation (buses, taxis, shared taxis and mototaxis) is easy even for not experienced tourists. You can go across all the department, travelling through the different localities (Aguas Verdes, Puerto Pizarro, Zarumilla, Caleta La Cruz) and even arrive to Punta Sal and Máncora. Take your ID card/passport with you, because without it you can not board on the buses.

If you are at the airport and there are taxis waiting for you, don’t pay more than 25 soles for the service. The minimum you can haggling is 20 soles, but if they want you to pay more, don’t accept it, this is an average rate.

The mototaxis are a low-cost option to cover the short distances inside the city. You will pay an average of 1.50 soles for a route.

Risks and cautions

The biggest risks in Tumbes are of nature kind (erosions on the land, slipping, landslides, growth of the riverbed, extreme temperatures)... due to the El Niño phenomenon which affects a lot this region. This phenomenon has an indefinite cyclic impact, although it’s considered that it comes every 2 to 8 years. The droughts and floods are very common during the phenomenon and the highways and urban areas are damaged due to the landslides and erosions. Before you get to Tumbes it’s recommended to search on meteorology webs specialized on the coastal regions observation.

Another common danger is the theft in the places of high risk. You should avoid going alone to unknown places and to bring valuable objects with you.

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Tourist attractions of Tumbes

Getting to Tumbes

Plaza de Armas of Tumbes (or main square)
Location: between the Simón Bolivar and Miguel Grau streets
Hours: all day
Price: free entrance
It’s the main meeting point for local festivals and the amusement place, where locals and visitors can have a quiet moment at the shade of the “kingelia pinnata” trees (popularly known as “matacojudos”, kill-stupids). At the square you can appreciate the presence of an acoustic shell, famous under the name “encounter of 2 worlds”; it represents the intercultural crash between the Spanish culture and the culture that dominated in the pre-Hispanic times. In the center of this modern construction the cacique Chilimasa monument stands out, Indian native authority who resisted with ferocity the Spanish invasion in Tumbes.

Malecón Benavides
Location: at the right bank f the Tumbes river, in the center of the city
Hours: all day
Price: free entrance
From the breakwater viewpoint you obtain one of the best views of the Tumbes landscape. This breakwater has a modern and showy architecture of 900 meters area. It was built originally to protect the city from floods caused by the strong rains. Nowadays it protects the city from nature phenomenons, but it’s also the favourite place to rest and contemplation of the beautiful twilights in Tumbes.

Iglesia Matriz San Nicolás de Tolentino
Location: at 20 meters from the Plaza de Armas
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Price: free entrance
It’s located in front of the Plaza de Armas of the city. The name corresponds to the Saint Patron of the city, San Nicolás de Tolentino. The construction dates from the 17th century and the architecture is baroque-republican style. After the restoration of 1985, the church became one of the latest churches of the peruvian north, even if the inside preserves the classical mysticism and the colonial spirituality; part of the baroque art can still be appreciated on its archs and large windows, which have pictures representing scences of the Saints, Jesus Christ and the Virgin. If you value the classic monuments that combine modern architecture or you enjoy spiritual tourism, don’t you miss the Iglesia Matriz.

Around Tumbes

Puerto Pizarro (mangroves)
Location: at 8 mi (13 kms) from the city
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  
Price: free entrance
This port is well-known for being one of the best fishermen’s of black shells small cove throughout the region. The not so deep waters allow the practice of water skiing, windsurf and small boat stroll (or boat). From the harbor you can access to the mangroves of Tumbes, the Amor island, the one of Hueso Ballena and the Pájaros island. You wil have several options to book a guided tour to those natural attractions.

Reserva Nacional de Tumbes
Location: at 68 mi (110 kms) from the city
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Price: with the SERNAMP permission (rntumbes@sernanp.gob.pe)
This natural reserve has been recognized by the UNESCO as part of the North-West Biosphere Reserve, since there are still areas not touched by the human hand. At this ecosystem there are species from the jungle, the mountain and the coast. You will appreciate the coastal fox, the “otorongo” (a jaguar kind) and the Andean condor which overfly the sky. The reserve area protects endangered species as the Tumbes crocodile, the otter of the north-west, the “mono coto” and the “machín blanco” (two sorts of monkey that are the only primates of the Peruvian coast). It doesn’t worth to visit the reserve during the rain season (from January to March) or during El Niño phenomenon.

Archaeological complex Cabeza de Vaca
(Tumpis fortress)
Location: at 3 mi (5 kms) to the South-west of the city, Los Corrales town
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price: entrance with a ticket (you must ask for it at the Tumbes municipality)
This archaeological complex of adobe and rock structures was named by locals San Pedro de los Incas. On the inside there are tools attributed to the Chimú culture and remains of a great variety of spondylus, where you can observe anthropomorphous representations. You will discover as well a trail longer than 5 mi (8 kms). There is an irrigation canal and the “huaca” Cabeza de Vaca. This one is an impressive contruction of 250 meters long, 100 fo width and 15 meters high. This complex has been immortalized in 1 sol coins, with an engraved worthy the collection “Proud and riches of Peru”.

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What to do in Tumbes?

Handmade fishing
Location: Pizarro beach, Zorritos
You can practice handmade and sportive fishing in Tumbes, a place characterized for its rich maritime fauna. You will find specialized shops that sell the ideal equipment for a correct and satisfactory fishing morning.

Surfing in Tumbes
Location: Zorritos beach, Punta Sal
The best waves of Peru are located in the North beaches, with the best summer weather throughout the year. In the sea of Tumbes you can practice surf and kitesurf.

Trekking and camps
Location: National Park Cerro de Amotape, National Reserve of Tumbes
Paths surrounded by lush nature receive  travellers who like long trekkings and ecoturism. The nature reserves are the perfect place to start outdoors adventure. You can also camp at the allowed areas, what will let you enter in contact with your natural side.

Diving in Tumbes
Location: Punta Sal
At the beaches of Tumbes you can dive as a fish on the water, specially in the warm sea of Punta Sal. At this beach you can do recreational and free diving easily, since its waters are calm, just ideal for the less experienced. You can complement diving with submarine hunting, because there are fertile areas on marine fauna. Close to Punta Sal there is a place called Peña Redonda, very popular among the most experienced divers. To find Peña Redonda you have to go with a guide who will tell you the exact location.

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Gastronomy of Tumbes

Typical dishes of Tumbes

El majarisco tumbesino
It’s the emblematic plate of Tumbes. It’s prepared with fried banana and is seasoned with a delicious northern sauce of shellfish. It’s served with the herb “yuyo” leafs and salty “cancha” (a type of fried corn).

Enrollado de mero en pulpa de cangrejo
This dish is based on fresh crab, grouper, prawns, langoustines, white wine, seasoned fish, yellow chilly pepper and other spices. This plate concentrates an assorted variety of flavours in one plate, usually served with fried potatoes and salad.

Chupe de cangrejo
The crab is one of the most used ingredients of the Tumbes cooking due to its abundance, high quality and high contents of phosphorus. To prepare it you need crabs, prawns, a type of chilly pepper, garlic, sweet pepper, eggs, potatoes, milk, noodles, oregano, onion and various condiments. Eat a “chupe” really delightful to be more than satisfied.

Ceviche de conchas negras
This ceviche is considered the perfect aphrodisiac, based on black shells that concentrate fresh, spicy and stimulant flavours. Taste it served with sweet potato, the mountain “cancha” (fried corn), the typical “chifles” (fried banana) and a sweet “chicha morada” (a drink of violet corn). But be careful with the aphrodisiac properties!

Typical drinks

You will also find in Tumbes the most exotic drinks of the north as the “chinguirito”, which is a combination of coconut and moonshine. You have also redcurrant macerate and orange guava and melon cocktails.

Restaurants in Tumbes

Eduardo El Brujo
Location: Bolognesi street with Benavides breakwater
Hours: unknown information
Price: from 10 to 70 soles
If you look for a good marine food don’t hesitate to come to this restaurant. They are specialized in fishes and shellfishes, but they also have an asorted creole menu. Their location is privileged, close to the breakwater, you’ll have an excellent view of the Tumbes river.

El Manglar restaurant
Location: 275, San Martín street
Hours: unknown information
Price: an average of 40 soles
El Manglar is an exclusive restaurant that is part of the services provided by the 4 stars hotel El Sol de Tumbes. It’s perfect for the people who love good food in a smart atmosphere, perfect for a romantic dinner. The menu is limited, because of the high quality of the ingredients. Enjoy as much as possible this marine food.

Sí Señor Restaurant
Location: 115, Bolívar Av.
Hours: from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Price: unknown information
This restaurant has several years offering typical flavors of the northern cooking. You can taste black shells ceviche and the best langoustines of the city.

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Accomodations in Tumbes

Backpacker

Hospedaje LM
Location: 648, Bolívar street
Price: from 50 soles and up
It offers the necessary to spend the night. It’s recommended for the travellers with low budget. They have free wi-fi, air conditioning and private bathroom in the rooms.

Hospedaje Gran Imperial
Location: 240, Los Andes street
Price: 72 soles and up
Located close to the Plaza de Armas, it’s a modest option, but has the most demanded services by the modern traveller. You can have wi-fi, air conditioning, laundry, cable TV and cold and warm water shower.

Mid-range

Hotel Casa César
Location: 311, Huáscar
Price: from 163 soles and up
It’s located at 2 blocks from the Plaza de Armas and has a good service. That’s why it’s one of the best accomodation options in the center of Tumbes. The hotel atmosphere is familiar. All the rooms have air conditioning to resist the intense hot of Tumbes. You have also wi-fi, cafe, room service and laundry service.

Luxury

Costa del Sol Wyndham
Location: 275, San Martín street
Price: from $50 and up
It’s on the center of Tumbes, at 500 meters from the Plaza de Armas. The hotel offers comforts as wi-fi, air conditioning, cable TV, minibar, private bathroom with showers, hairdryer, restaurant and delicious breakfasts. Lunch and dinner at the hotel offer you the best of the northern gastronomy, besides the most exquisite of the international cooking.

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Important dates of Tumbes

Tumbes Anniversary
(January the 7th)
This day a serenade is prepared in honour of the city and all the locals participate. This activity is complemented by cutural events, tasting of typical food and colourful fireworks.

Aniversario de la Cruz
(May the 6th)
The cross is the main symbol of Christianity, brought to Tumbes by the conqueror Francisco Pizarro. This day they celebrate his arrival to the city.

Anniversary of the Zarumilla Battle
(June the 24th)
Every year is commemorated one of the most important battles that faced Peru and Ecuador in 1941. The war hero and pilot José Abelardo Quiñones sacrificed during this battle in a heroic act without precedents in Peru’s history. Today his face is on the 10 soles bills.

San Pedro and San Pablo Patron Saints festival
(June 28th and 29th)
This festival is very important for the fishermen of the handmade small coves, since the saints are considered their protectors. Those days there are eucharistic activities, school parades, gastronomic fairs, dance competitions and the traditional route of the saints in a boat which goes through the main harbours, as Puerto Pizarro.

Tourist Week of Tumbes
(September the 21st to the 27th)
As other towns in Peru, Tumbes has a tourist week where the visitor can taste the distinguished dishes of the local gastronomy, observe the cultural activities as typical dances and listen to the local music, besides appreciating the best of its handicrafts.

Inmaculada Concepción festival
(December the 1st to 15th)
The festival lasts two weeks with lots of religious activities as masses, processions and other manifestations of the locals faith. There are social activities as serenades and recreation games. The central day is December the 8th.

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Nightlife in Tumbes

To have a drink in Tumbes

Laiqa Restobar
Location: 512, Huáscar Av.
Hours: from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Price: unknown information
Snacks, menu dishes and a large variety of alcoholic drinks and non alcoholic drinks are waiting for you at this unique restobar in Tumbes. Go and visit it with friends and enjoy the best service in a welcoming atmosphere with good music. We recommend you the “chilcano de berries”, prepared with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, or an stimulating “maracumango sour”, prepared based on passion fruit, mango and the best pisco.

Beer House Tumbes
Location: 505, Grau street
Hours: from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Price: unknown information

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How to get to Tumbes by bus?

-You can get to Tumbes by bus from Piura, Máncora and the nearby towns. You can also travel fron Ecuador, going through the border.
-Tepsa, Excluciva, Oltursa and Civa are the transportation companies that cover the route from Lima (it takes about 20 hours) through the Panamericana Norte highway.
-Civa is the transportation company that covers the route by bus from the closest towns and from Ecuador.
-The price of the tickets goes from 60 to 120 soles (from the closest cities the price is lower).
-Tumbes has the airport Capitán FAP Pedro Canga Rodríguez, located at 10 mi (16 kms) to the north of the city center. From there the commercial Peruvian and international flights take off and land. Most of the flights come from Lima or Ecuador.

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