Rails & Tales: Peru... Beautiful Desolation An inside look at the Peruvian culture and surf scene, with the WSSM Surf Crew! Hosted by Samana Chakra, Las Olas Mancora, Chicama Surf Resort, and Kimbas Bungalows. Airfare provided by TACA Airlines
Text of WSSM Womens Surf Style Magazine - Surf Travel: PERU
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RAILS & TALES . . . Peru
1) Tia walked through the streets of Mancora one evening, and came across the cutest little kids playing soccer, who were excited to have their picture taken. 2) Walking to Mancora
town via the street, from Samana Chakra, for a bite to each. It is very hot and dry here, and makes you crave the beach to cool off on. 3) The stunning view of Chicama, the world’s
longest left, from the infinity pool at Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa. The break’s main peak is located at the base of the furthest away cliff you can see here. It’s about a mile walk, but
with the tow-back service exclusive to their resort, they drop you off at the point in only minutes, ready for set, after set. Most waves can be ridden from the point, all the way past
the resort where this photo was taken, if you connect the sections correctly. 4) Riding into the sunset, Mancora Point
2Photo: Pat Williams
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Every surf trip leaves it’s mark.
My new battle wound/tattoo,
after getting wrapped up in
my board at Romanzo
Sunset at Popoyo Beach 3
Photos by Tia Calvo
Story by Dan Olson | Photos by Tia Calvo
“Welcome to the desolate, beautiful land of Peru. WSSM publishers, Dan & Sandra Olson, Tia Calvo-WSSM photographer, Carolyn Palma- WSSM shipping manager, and Pat Williams- photographer/uncle, took our annual surf trip to this exotic location, to learn about the culture, meet the locals, and surf the world’s longest left.
We flew Taca Airlines, our favorite airline for Central and South American travel, who treated us to free in-flight food and drinks! Thanks Taca!
Upon our arrival, we stayed at four resorts, so we could get a better feeling for all that Peru had to offer. Kimbas Bungalows was our first stop in the northern town of Man-cora. We then stayed at Samana Chakra, at the quiet end of Mancora town, and then Las Olas, situated within 40 feet of the best wave Mancora offers.
After a week of perfectly peeling waves, we then headed further South to Chicama, to ride the world’s longest left. Here is our photo journal.
Log on to womenssurfstyle.com for even more photos and video from the trip!
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Rails & Tales . . . El SalvadorRAILS & TALES . . . Peru
1) Cooling off in the infinity pool at Kimbas Bungalows. It’s nice and quiet here, and they’ve done a great job with the Indonesian inspired architecture and design.
2) Our group at Kimbas Bungalows. Love the hammocks on the lanai/balcony of each room!
3) Are you sure this fruit is ok to eat?Tia purchased this strange looking fruit at a local stand, and convinced the girls it was safe. Kinda sweet and furry. Interesting.
4) Gustavo, Las Olas Mancora owner/founder (he pretty much runs the town), drove us through the desert oil fields, scanning break after break, looking for the best swell. Our final destination was one of Peru’s best bar-relling waves, Lobitos. On the way, he showed us the home where he grew up- in a small fishing village.
5) Our photographer, Tia Calvo, showing us how it’s done at Mancora Point. This shot was captured via 35mm film, by Uncle Pat.
6) Dan picked up a side job, driving the moto-taxi from Kimbas Bungalows, to Samana Chakra, our next destination, on the other side of town. It was about 1-2 miles away, and costs 2 soles... tourist prices. (2.6 soles = $1 at the time of this article)
7) Uncle Pat, wearing his retro “beavertail” rubber wetsuit top, and riding his favorite board that his brother, Tom, gave him over 25 years ago while on a surf trip to Mexico. He wanted to take a board he trusted, and even made his own board bag (strong canvas, carpet pad-ding & hand sewn, complete with a fin pocket) for the journey! This shot was taken at sunset, and though the waves were small, it was a nice warm-up for the super fun barrel he was about to get the next day at Lobitos.
8) Dan and Sandra, in the dining room at Samana Chakra, enjoying some fresh fruit and coffee in the morning after their session. Here you can enjoy a gourmet breakfast and free wi-fi, while taking in the oceanfront view.
9) Carolyn taking advantage of the breathtak-ingly beautiful, yoga shala. The atmosphere is quiet and serene, with open air windows on one side, and the ocean and infinity pool on the other.
10) Colorful stacks of yoga mats and blankets at the fully stocked yoga shala.
11) The luxurious, yet simple amenities at Samana Chakra are welcoming after a day in the surf and sun.
12) Open-air showers are one of the BEST things about Samana Chakra. Surprisingly relaxing and refreshing to take a shower in the sunshine and fresh air, while feeling totally secluded.
13) Clean and spacious rooms at Samana Chakra. Look closely in the mirror and you’ll see the oceanfront view. Mosquito nets above the beds kept you bug-free, and were a must since you often slept with the chalet doors wide open, listening to the sounds of the ocean. Nice!
14) This oceanfront view of Mancora Beach was taken from our room at Las Olas Mancora, as Dan prepared to paddle out for an evening session.
Photo: Pat Williams
Book your flight at taca.com
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Photo: Sandra Olson
9 10 11
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RAILS & TALES . . . Peru
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1) Lobitos, one of Peru’s best barreling waves. You’ll find LONG lefts here (and its signature oil platform in the background), but also a lineup filled with highly skilled surfers that know this wave inside-and-out. Not a wave for beginners.
2) Inside the lush resort of Las Olas Mancora, where they offer rooms to fit different budgets and group needs.
3) Samana Chakra bungalows; a beautiful oasis in the desert of Peru.
4) Carolyn Palma and the “Potato man”, a happy street vendor that became a daily tradi-tion with our group. Only 2.5 soles our first night in (we weren’t locals yet), then 2 the next day... after a few nights, 1.5 soles (maybe he just couldn’t remember what he charged us be-fore?) for a yummy potato chicken dish, topped with cabbage, picante and mayo. Delicious, and within our price range!
5) Carolyn surfing at the river mouth, just south of Mancora Point. A fast little wave that we pretty much had to ourselves.
6) Uncle Pat in front of Charlie Broun’s Surfer Bar. This was reminiscent of the many stories Sandra & Carolyn heard growing up, of yearly surf trips to Mexico with his brother, Tom, and their best friend, Charlie Brown.
7) Gustavo “the muscle” and our photographer, Tia Calvo, in front of a convenience store in a small fishing village, on the way to Lobitos.
8) Group shot on the beach in front of Las Olas Mancora and Mancora point, on our last night there. Left to right: Dan Olson, Gustavo, Carolyn Palma, Pat Williams, Sandra Olson, and Mayza, a beautiful local Peruvian surfer.
9) Dan, Sandra, Pat and Carolyn at Lobitos, unloading the boards. Carolyn contemplates her paddle out.
10) Samana Shakra’s infinity pool and ocean-front dining room where they offer gourmet dishes, including super fresh seafood, for about 1/3 of U.S. prices. Yum!
11) Sandra on her Chick Sticks “Checker Me Out Little Screamer”, at the river mouth in Mancora. This was her only session without a wetsuit, and of course, she chose her new Calavera bikini to surf in.
12) Pirates docked in a bay, somewhere be-tween Mancora and Lobitos. Flanked by oil fields as far as the eye can see, the authorities leave them alone because they’re so far from any-where, so it’s here that they drop anchor, and sell their stolen goods. Gustavo pointed them out to us while on our way to Lobitos.
13) A surfer’s dream view of Mancora’s BEST wave, taken from our balcony at Las Olas Mancora. This break remains un-ridden and void of surfers for at least an hour after sunrise... Peruvians don’t dawn patrol. This oceanfront view of Mancora point allowed us to simply roll over in the morning to see what the waves were doing. EPIC location for surf-hungry travelers!
Learn more about Las Olas Mancora at
and Samana Chakra at
and Kimbas Bungalows at www.kimbasbungalows.com
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RAILS & TALES . . . Peru
1) Sandra, Dan, Pat, and Carolyn on the beach at Chicama, in our Exceed wetsuits. We didn’t really believe we’d need full suits while surfing in the desert, so far down in S. America. A big thanks to Exceed Wetsuits for saving our butts! Without your warm suits, we would have froze them right off, due to the Humboldt Current that flows counterclockwise from the Southern tip of Chile to the North of Peru.
While we were at Chicama, the biggest moon of 2012 rose high in the sky, and brought with it a seriously intense jellyfish infestation! More jellyfish in one session than any of us had seen in our entire lifetimes- combined, there were jellyfish in reds, purples, yellows, blues, smoky white and clear. From tiny bubbles of jel-lyfish, to species that were 2-4 feet wide, with tentacles several feet long and inches thick! Back on shore, comments such as “that was like chicken noodle soup out there!” were heard. It was like surfing in a bowl of Lucky Charms; you could hear them thumping under your board as you rode for over a mile on the world’s longest left. Within 2 hours of sun-up, however, they would disappear to the depths below, only to resurface again at sunset.
2) Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa, located on the cliff side overlooking Chicama. From your balcony, you can see pictures #4, 5 & 6. This resort offers a luxurious experience, boasting hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, a gym, an infin-ity pool overlooking the bay, and a full bar and restaurant. The staff is great, and the tow-back service (the current here in Chicama is UNREAL!) makes these accommodations a MUST for those wanting to catch as many rides as their legs can handle, and relax in epic accommodations afterwards.
3) Chicama, the worlds longest left, lines up for 2-3 football fields ahead of you, and you think to yourself “there’s no chance it won’t break in front of me further down the line!” But Chicama waits patiently for you to arrive at every section before continuing to break like clockwork.
4) Dan getting one of the longest lefts of his life. Notice there’s no one else anywhere in sight? That’s Peru for you... Empty waves!
5) The walking path to the point zigzags along the waters edge, ALL the way to the furthest point seen here. Depending on Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa availability and capacity, this is the path most surfers must take to get out to the point, then they must paddle out between two rocky outcroppings, as they race the current before it sweeps them too far down the line. Imagine doing this over and over again without the tow-back service?
6) Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa’s board room, complete with wash-and-dry service for your wetsuits!
7) Ceviche! The best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world!
8) If you fall off a wave, just pick up the wave behind it and continue. It’s really that easy.
Learn more about Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa at
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RAILS & TALES . . . Peru
“Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa believes in giving back to the community in which it resides. The town of Chicama’s main industry is fishing, which they then process and export for use in animal feed products, etc. This industry however, only fills about 4 months out of the year, and the remaining months the town simply rests.
Since Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa’s inception in 2008, they’ve directly benefited approximately 30 local families through employment at the resort, and over 60 families in-directly, through supplies and production needs. For example, Percy, one of their very talented boat drivers, having worked at the resort for 2 years now, recently married, had their first child, bought property, and is in the process of building their first home, in the growing town of Chicama. What a great future for him and his family!
We’d like to thank Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa for blessing the lives of those around them, and creating a profitable and stable future for their local employees!”
in Tia’s words“My legs are in pain. Not just my legs, but every little bit of skin not protected by my spring suit. It was a war zone out there, like dodging landmines. I’m talking about a serious jellyfish infestation. At one point a giant one wrapped itself around my legs and got stuck in my leash. So why would I put myself in such an unpleasant situation? The answer is simple - the world’s longest left.
Chicama is the stuff dreams are made of. There’s this huge bay. And these lines. These big lines just roll. They wrap. And the wave goes forever. Yes-terday I had the longest wave of my life. It must have gone for miles.
You take off outside a big rock. It’s like ok, a few turns, doing good. Then another, then a cut back. Now my legs are tired. I’ll just sit back on this wave and watch the people go past. Then it hits a section so I’ll start racing. Now I’m tired again. I’m flying past heads bobbing in the water. There goes another boat. I squeeze in a few more turns then kick out and watch as the wave races away from me. I’m too tired and too slow to keep up anymore.
Now if that wasn’t already enough, staying here at the unbelievable Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa is the icing on the cake. They wash and dry your wetsuit, and the hot tub and sauna are patiently awaiting your return from the surf. And then they have the boat: after the longest ride of your life it picks you up and drops you right back at the peak. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, the kind of happiness that overwhelms you from the core of your being. Peru, I’m in love.”
1) Chicama at night. Safe and secure from the harsh desert conditions.
2) Our first night’s dinner at the luxurious Chicama Boutique, Hotel & Spa restaurant.
3) Eww... Jellyfish!!!
4) Tia Calvo, in the moment, in Chicama, Peru.
5) Tia... “The jellyfish here are THIS big!”
6) Down the cliff, and across the beach, the world’s longest left awaits.