Mollendo and Catarindo Beach, a hidden gem in Peru

Mollendo and Catarindo Beach, a hidden gem in Peru

Here it is, the longest day of our holidays! Probably longer than the flights themselves, it was a long and challenging journey from Puno to Mollendo. It was a tough trip, but the destination was a very pleasant surprise, and a very well deserved rest!

Again, it rained during the whole night, and again that feeling of being lucky during the day! Probably that’s how the rainy season works in Peru. We had the bus tickets Puno > Arequipa booked the day before, so we just had to go to the terminal and enjoy our trip on our “first row seats on a panoramic bus“! Arequipa, here we go!

Booking.com

In Peru we have to pay taxes for everything, even after having the tickets already pre-paid. Guess that we’ll never know if having a ticket actually means going on a trip… Oh well, again, we had to pay some additional tax after the bus ticket prior to our actually trip. This “tax” kind of made our schedule even more tighter, no time to go to the bathroom! Thankfully, the woman at the ticket counter said that the buses have toilet, uffff! Six hours is a long trip.

Traveling directly from Puno to Mollendo in one day

Getting to the bus, and we started to realize that something was wrong…, where was the panoramic bus promised by the guy at the hostel? And what about the seats, wasn’t it supposed to be first row? So, we got a very old bus, smelly, dirty and that leaked water from everywhere! Great! We weren’t pissed off because of the old bus, we actually really wanted to try a “chicken-bus” (which wasn’t also the case), we were pissed off because the guy promised something that was way far from reality! Well, cultural shock, I guess…

Due to our “not so first row”, I barely took photos during that bus trip. Again, we were again in Juliaca…, and because of the Carnival, the bus had to go through a different route outside the main road, and that according to the natives inside the bus, the driver picked the worse way… It was kind of funny and scary at the same time! We passed through a road that looked live a river! As I said on a previous post, Juliaca is a flat city and when it rains the streets become rivers! This is almost true, we actually thought we would get stuck there and Juliaca doesn’t seem a nice place to get stuck in!

Sunset in Mollendo
Sunset in Mollendo

The way to Arequipa was quite traumatic for me, as I stated before, I had to time to go to the toilet before getting to the bus, and I was told that the bus had a toilet inside, which actually was not a lie. The woman just forgot to mention that the toilet was closed for some reason that the driver didn’t want to explain. So, basically I was 6 hours inside a bus, passing through amazing landscapes and desert areas, REALLY desperate to pee!!

Another detail about that trip, supposedly it was an express bus, without stops. And actually, no stops to let people exit, but the guy was stopping all the time to let more people in. At each stop, a lot of people complained with the driver, which was kind of fun. But my head was too busy to panic out with my “primary needs“. I had to ask the driver to pee, but instead of using the polite way, I actually said “I need to piss now!” and as expected, the driver said I should hold a bit more. Everyone laughed, and even some people asked the guy to let me go out to pee. He didn’t.

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I actually even considered to pee inside the bus, I was almost at a “I don’t care” point of no return, but…, we were in Peru, in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know what to expect, probably the driver would throw me out of the bus, and I really didn’t want to take that chance. I just kept holding it…, and then, something strange happened to me. My brain started to trick me, it was a very weird trip, my brain actually made me feel like totally wet, like if I had peed myself! I didn’t. So every few minutes (probably less than minutes) I was checking if my pants were actually wet! It was really insane, I never felt anything alike in my life! Guess that in Peru I tested my whole digestive system. And I guess it works!

Just passing by Arequipa

Arriving in Arequipa was even more painful, the city suburbs are like all other cities and towns in Peru, looking really awful and not appealing to stay at all. We were tired of that, and I was in pure desperation for a toilet! Mind that we were 6 hours inside a bus, and I had to drink water as well…

What a challenging trip… And getting to the bus terminal wasn’t easy either, we passed through good part of the city suburbs until we stopped, and knowing that we were close my brain was pushing harder to “release“. The moment we start turning to the terminal, I just jumped to the door! I had to be the first one to get out!!! Well, guess that Ramón didn’t realize my desperation, and he asked me to take care of the luggage the moment I went out…, you might guess my reaction…

Atacama Desert in southern Peru

Finally, outside the bus! Running to the toilet!!! And…, I had to pay to use it AHAHAH!! I didn’t care at all! Not going into much details, but it was really hard to pee, and it actually hurt! I really never felt something alike before… After that, my mood totally changed! We went on a relaxing mode, we ate something and we were deciding what to do next!

We were tired of traveling, and we really were needing two or three days of pure relaxation, so, why not going straight to Mollendo? Changing our initial plans, we postponed Arequipa! How to get to Mollendo? By bus, about another 6 hours…, or by taxi… And, fuck it! Let’s go by taxi!

Continuing our trip towards Mollendo, at the coast

Two hours from Arequipa to Mollendo, 200 Peruvian Neuvos Soles, about 60€ for a 130 kms trip! Not bad at all! Now I managed to take a few photos, and we crossed part of the Peruvian part of Atacama Desert! It is indeed fantastic, and quite curious at the same time, along the road we saw several parcels of terrain well-defined for different owners. Don’t forget that it is a desert, and Atacama Desert is the driest desert on Earth, so, why having parcels there? I didn’t understand that, but I also didn’t ask.

Booking.com

So, in one day we went from the 3800 meters high, from the highest navigable lake on Earth, going down to the 0 meters of altitude (sea level) and passing through amazing green landscapes at the Andes, passing through the second biggest city in Peru, passing through the driest place on Earth, a desert, and seeing the Pacific Ocean! What a day! Ignoring the “primary needs” issue, it was indeed a memorable day!

Arriving in Mollendo, time to pick a hotel! We were all tired, and everyone with low tolerance, so picking a hotel was not as easy as expected, but we ended up at a very good place very close to the beach! After that, a walk through the town and going for dinner, and finally having a very deserved ice cream! Then, bed time!

Relaxing in Mollendo, a town in Peru off the beaten path

Early wake up in Mollendo! It was a huge difference, what we thought being tireless, guess it was really altitude sickness getting into our bones! It is hard to describe how different we were feeling, so much energy and so way better than the days before, that indeed was a big factor on our decision to skip the Colca Canyon.

Probably it was a mistake, I guess I’ll never know that, but by then it seemed to be the best decision, vacations is not only running around, some relax time is also important and it is impossible to see every single place.

So well, we decided to go to the beach! Our first swim on the Pacific Ocean! But not before some “travel issues”. Ramón and I woke up early, we knocked Tajana’s door but I guess she was taking a shower, she didn’t hear and we assumed she was still asleep. So, let the girl rest! We went to buy some sun-cream, and we did the huge mistake of having breakfast without Tajana, obviously she was not happy with it…, after everything solved up, we went to the beach, but now it was Ramón’s turn to stay behind, I have no clue why… We tried to call him, but no battery on his phone, oh dramas dramas, there ain’t a good travel without good dramas!

Girl at the beach in Mollendo at sunset
Girl at the beach in Mollendo at sunset

Time for beach!!! Renting some chairs and a beach umbrella! And being flooded all the time, the waves were strong but it was a real fun for us! We even had a crazy funny guy that approached us saying the he is from INTERPOL! After a few hours, our deserved and more than wished lunch by the beach!

After lunch, we went for a walk, the hotel and back to the beach. This time just me and Tajana, I think Ramón decided to take a nap… It was a whole afternoon of reading, sun and waves flooding our feet! Just pure awesomeness! After a while, Ramón ended up join us, so the trio was completed again!

It was a long and amazing day, going back to the hostel for a shower to take out that Pacific salt… We had a very nice dinner, another walk through the town and back to bed! This time not feeling sick, but really relaxed! VACATIONS!

A visit to Catarindo Beach, a hidden gem in the south of Peru

Another early wake up, and another beach day was ahead of us! Really eager for that, if I reckon properly, we decided to go to Catarindo Beach because we say a photo of that beach and we asked where it is, so there we go! That’s something that I really enjoyed about our vacations, everything planned on the spot, everything enjoyed without too planning.

We had a nice breakfast, oh those papayas were H-U-G-E! Like the size of a pumpkin, I never saw papayas that big, and that taste…., that juices…

After the breakfast, we just took a taxi to the beach, and getting there was really cool, a nice bay so no wind, and fewer waves. Great to enjoy another very relaxing day! It was really a vacations day, lunch at the beach, a nice barrack just for us, and at first a bit worried about how to get back to the town…

Mollendo and Catarindo Beach, a hidden gem in Peru
Mollendo and Catarindo Beach, a hidden gem in Peru

The water was cold, but not as cold as the Portuguese Atlantic coast, and it was not that warm outside as well. I’d say that was just perfect, nice weather not too hot, nice water not too cold and no wavy. Hell yeah, vacations!

Going back, at first we thought about going by taxi, but, would we get a taxi there? The taxi driver said that was easy to get a taxi back to the city, but that was a bit outside and we were kind of in the desert. Taxis? Where? It was easy to realize that every car was a taxi, kind of funny to see people taking the “taxi” board from the trunk of their cars and suddenly, their own cars become taxis! Enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, and even getting money to pay their own trip, genius! But we decided to walk back, the weather was really cool and we had nothing else to do, why not enjoying a walk of a few kilometers to the town?

Mollendo seen from the desert
Mollendo seen from the desert

As I said before, we were kind of in the desert, so we had to cross part of that as well, walking. It didn’t take much time, but I am not sure how long either. We saw a few people doing jogging through that area, it is really a peaceful place, and running on the cliffs by the sea should be awesome! Desert in one side, Pacific Ocean in the other side.

Getting back in town, we were tired! Beach is a like a hard job, but more enjoyable! We just had a dinner, I believe it was on an Italian restaurant? Maybe… And then, shower and bed! That shower had so much sand, I think we took part of the beach with us…

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By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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