After a 3 days in Cuenca, we were more than ready to move on to our next destination. We chose Mancora as our first stop in Peru since the Google images of the beach looked amazing and it was easy to get to since it’s right by the Ecuador border.
After spending some time up in the mountains wearing pants and long sleeve tops, we decided that wearing shorts and flip flops sounded like a nice change of pace.
Azuay Bus from Cuenca to Mancora
We did some research as to what companies were the most reputable for the bus route and Azuay kept coming up. We booked a bus and looked forward to moving on to Peru, our 6th country in our trip.
Almost missing our bus
Let me first start out by prefacing that almost missing our bus was 100% our fault. I’m just happy that we ended up making it as spending another day in Cuenca was not something that I wanted to do.
The day before we wanted to leave, we had purchased our tickets at the Azuay ticket counter in the bus terminal. Before we left the office we confirmed the date to make sure that it was correct. For some reason, we didn’t pay much attention to the time the bus left, likely because on the huge banner outside of the office it said Mancora 11:45pm.
The day of our departure we were super bored. We spent the majority of the day bumming around our hostel where we loaded our pictures to the Google drive and wrote/loaded articles to the blog. While it wasn’t super exciting, we got a lot of things done.
We headed out to have dinner and then returned to the hostel afterwards. It was then that the lady at the hostel asked what bus company we were taking. We couldn’t remember the name of the company so we pulled the ticket out of our wallet and showed it to her. She was the one that said 9:30pm and pointed to the ticket.
We were paralysed in fear as it was 9:24pm and the bus terminal was about 10 minutes away. Both of us knew that we at least had to try and make it. We grabbed our gear which was luckily already packed and ran to the street as quick as possible. I hailed a cab, we threw our stuff in and said “Bus Terminal MUY RAPIDO”. The taxi driver understood what needed to happen, running 2 red lights to get us there as quick as he could.
Once we were at the bus terminal, I threw some money to the driver and ran like hell towards the first Azuay bus that I saw. There was nobody around this bus except the driver but I was hoping that he could at least tell me where I needed to go to catch the bus. I showed him my ticket and he told me that since it was 9:36pm, the bus left 6 minutes ago.
I must have had the saddest look on my face at this point. The driver then went above and beyond, getting on the radio and calling to the bus. At first there was no reply but then he got one. I didn’t catch most of what was said since it was in Spanish but the driver that was helping me smiled and ushered us to a taxi, running the whole way. He yelled something in Spanish to the driver and we were off.
At this point we were not sure what was going on but I knew that it had to be good. In our broken Spanish we asked the driver if the bus was stopped or if we were just tailing it. He told us that it was stopped and we waited to see just how far the bus had gotten in a short amount of time. Not too long after we saw a bus to the side of the road. We threw the driver some money and hopped out.
Andy checked our bags below the bus and I got on first. I was subject to many glares from passengers who had been waiting on the side of the road for us. I am the first to admit that I would have done the same thing if I was in their shoes and made a mental note that if there is a similar situation down the road to try not to judge them.
The bus was similar to the night busses that we had taken in Colombia. When the person in front of you reclined, which we inevitable on a night bus, your personal space became extremely minimal.
For some reason, many drivers on night busses play music relatively loud throughout the entire bus for the entire trip. The only reason that I can see that this would be beneficial is for drowning out the noise of someone snoring. To make matters worse, a guy about 3 rows behind us had his phone playing his own music as loud as possible. The competing sounds of the music from 2 different locations was starting to give me a headache. Luckily around 11:30 the guy turned off his music which made me, and I’m sure the rest of the bus, extremely happy.
The best part about the bus is that it was actually direct. We made zero stops along the way excluding the border crossing. This allowed the bus to save a massive amount of time on transit.
We had read that the border crossing during the day was awful and had extremely long lines, but at night, the customs agents just want to move everyone through. When we arrived, around 1:30am, we were the only bus there. We got into line to get stamped out of Ecuador before getting our paperwork at the Peruvian side. We then filled out our paperwork and got stamped in.
The entire process took us under 10 minutes, most of that was the time it took for us to complete our paperwork. It was quite possibly the easiest border crossing ever as we weren’t asked a single question by either of the customs agents.
Arriving in Mancora
We arrived in Mancora around 4:30am, just about 7 hours after the bus departed. I had my fingers crossed that if any bus on our trip would get delayed, that it please be this one since the timing was so absolutely terrible and we were physically drained. Unfortunately, this happened to be our one bus that wasn’t just on time, it had actually arrived at our destination early.
Once we departed the bus we were accosted by tuk tuk drivers offering to take us wherever we wanted to go. Our hostel had a free shuttle service which started at 6am so we declined. After spending a little bit of time on a park bench, we realized that the hostel was actually not too far of a walk.
We strapped on our bags and walked up the hill to our hostel. We were greeted by the owner and told that our room would be ready in about an hour. We were absolutely elated since the only thing that either of us wanted to do was go to bed.
Things that We Saw/Did
As with most beach towns, there isn’t much to do. While surfers were in heaven with the constant waves, we decided to take this part of our trip as an opportunity to relax and recharge. I know it sounds funny to you all at home who are working, but full time travel can be exhausting too!
Before we had left, we thought that we would spend a lot of time on the beach but the Google images did not match reality. The beach was quite small, crowded, not very beautiful and extremely windy – not the combination that we were looking for. The image below is actually from our last day when the tide was low and it was less crowded because of the weekday. In the afternoon the tide was higher and very little beach was actually left.
Bummed around our hostel
We spent a good amount of our time bumming around the hostel which had the views that we loved but didn’t have the negatives of the beach. Even though the wifi wasn’t the fastest, we got a bunch of pictures uploaded to our Google drive. We both wrote and uploaded few articles as well. It felt great since by the time we left we were almost in live time, something that we have been striving to catch up to.
Walked down the beach
When we were in Banos we met another traveler who came from Peru. She told us that the beach in Mancora wasn’t great but if you kept walking south, past the fishing boats that the beaches got better.
On the second day we took a long walk on the beach, past the smelly fishing boats where we reached nicer, more secluded beaches. Our plan was to walk the beach in our clothes, returning later that day or the following day if the beach was nice. While the beaches were better, it was still extremely windy and the water quite cold. We decided that we liked the view of the beaches from the hostel better than the ground level and decided that we would enjoy from above at our hostel.
Watched the surfers
There was one particular part of the coast that had great surfing waves. Several times, we would sit and watch the surfers. Some were better than others, but it is a completely mesmerizing thing to watch. We even added in commentary, sometimes calling it exactly right when someone was going to wipe out.
Since there really wasn’t much to do in Mancora for us, we spent a lot of time eating and drinking. Things here were quite a bit more expensive than we had encountered in quite some time so we did some digging to find good deals to keep on budget.
The first night we ate BBQ at this place where you could get a meat, rice, fries and salad for 10 soles or around $3. They also had a deal where you could get 3 large size beers for 10 soles. We were pretty excited that for less than $10 we could have 2 full meals and a more than adequate supply of cheap, extremely cold beer. Needless to say, we couldn’t find a better deal and ended up eating here 3 of the 4 nights we were in Mancora.
The owner became friendly with us, always putting us up front of the restaurant (where he could show that gringos ate there) and using us to help lure in other patrons by asking us if we thought the food was good. He was a funny guy and we loved watching him do his thing.
While we had a decent time in Mancora, I don’t think that we will ever return. There are so many better beaches around the world that I would want to spend time at over this.
One of the horrible things about Mancora are all of the stray animals. While we have seen quite a few strays in other cities we have visited, the animals always seemed to be doing fine. In Mancora there were so many strays that there is just not enough food to go around or people to take care of them. It absolutely broke both of our hearts to see so many skinny dogs and cats with nothing that we could do to help. I honestly hope that someone who is an animal advocate goes to Mancora and starts a program that spays/neuters the animals.
The only reason I would recommend going to Mancora is if you are a surfer or if you want to take a little break in between travels from Ecuador to Peru. If you’re looking to just take a break, 1-2 days will be more than enough time to recharge.