Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 5, 2011

Surfing Guide to North Peru

Filed under: Surfing — Tags: , — admin @ 5:36 am

I hope that this post will help any crew intending to go to Peru looking for surf. The first thing to decide is whether to bring your own surfboard or buy one in Peru. I would suggest that either way would be fine, according to your needs. If you are coming directly to Peru, then bring your own boards. Make sure you have a decent board bag and that you have removable fins on your boards. You will be chucking the boards in the luggage compartments of heaps of buses, so some protection goes a long way. Maybe even bring some bubble wrap to extra protect your board.

For size, most crew seem to have 6’1″ to 6′ 3″. I do not really know because I am a fat old bastard and surfed on a 7′ 4″ fun board. If you want to buy a board in Peru, then there are some really good shapers in Lima. New surfboards are relatively cheap and are good quality. Ask around in Miraflores or Barranco for the board factories. Klimax and Wayo Whilar are good brands. Get a Wetsuit in Lima. I highly recommend Boz wetsuits, they are top rated. If you are only in Peru for a month or less, then just hire a surfboard in Huanchaco, north of Peru. You will get a good rate for a couple of weeks or a month (~200-300 Soles).

Lima Surf Spots

I do not know much about surfing in Lima. It is not that great. I stayed at Barranco and there is a pretty lame wave off the breakwater there. Punta Hermosa, about 40k south of Lima has heaps of breaks, but I did not get there. Bravo Surf Camp seems like an economical place to stay if you go there.


To get to Huanchaco, you need to get to Trujillo first. You can get a bus there from Lima. Then jump on a taxi to Huanchaco. Huanchaco is not that great. There are some left handers off the point but it just does not get very hollow. You can hire surfboards here for a very decent price. Otherwise, this place rocks for Cerviche. Try it.


Get the El Dorado bus from Trujillo, it goes direct to Puerto Malabrigo, which is its proper name. Everyone stays at El Hombre, which is on a hill overlooking the surf. The wave here really does go for a long way. But there are downsides – the sweep is pretty horrendous. You have to paddle your guts out just to stay in one spot. And it is not that hollow, it is more of a wall and a long ride. You can get a ride out on a rubber ducky if you have lots of money, but that is cheating.



Mancora is about the most northern surf spot in Peru. It is hot, very hot. The wave is fun and there is not much rip, plus you can surf in board shorts, which is a big novelty in Peru. It can get pretty crowded and there will be learners all over the place in the lineup. But it is a fun wave and a great place to party after a few weeks in the desert.


This place is awesome. When the swell is pumping, the main point is as hollow as you will ever see. There are 3 main places to surf, Lobitos, the Jetty and Piscinas. There are heaps of places to stay from luxury to very cheap. This place is in the middle of a desert almost, with nobody but fishermen around. It is a great place. Catch a bus here from Mancora to Talara and get a taxi to Lobitos.

Lobitos main break

That is about it. Its cold, there is always a current to paddle against, and the wind always blows from the south every day.

December 28, 2010

Backpacker Birding in Peru

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Backpacker Birding in Peru

$10 ~= 30 Soles. Get a Yellow Fever Vaccination. No visa needed for most. Air Europa and Iberia fly from Madrid to Lima. Electricity is 220V, 60Hz, both flat and round 2 prong plugs.

List of birding sites in Peru

Paracas National Reserve – 15km from Pisco Puerto. Go for a boat trip to Ballestas Islands from the jetty at el Chaco, the beach and fishing port. Stay at Pisco at Hostal Pisco Playa or Hostal Pisco.
Lomas de Lachay – Camp at Visitors centre, bring all food and water. Near Savan. The Lima to Huacho buses stop at km83. One kilometer north of the southern turn-off to Sayan is a track sign to Lomas de Lachay. It is a 4km walk to park entrance. In Huacho stay at Hostal Carolina.
Huascaran Biosphere Reserve – Ranger posts at Llananuco and Huarascan. Maybe a trek from Caraz to Santa Cruz Valley. Stay at Familia Aguilar or Hostal las Casona at Caraz.
Laquipampa Reserved Zone – 2 hours past Sican on road to Incahuasi. White-winged Turkey.
Sanctuario Nacional los Manglares de Tumbes – north coast mangroves. Near Tumbes.
Parque Nacional Cerros de Amotape, NE of Mancora.
Zona Reservada de Tumbes – NE of Tumbes.
Casa Grillo Centro Ecoturisto Naturista – between Bocapan and Los Pinos. 30km from Tumbes.
Lago Junin National Reserve – fishermen can take you around lake. Near Junin.

Manu N.P. – near Cusco, Huancarane, Atalaya, Salvacion. Must go in with authorized operator and guide. There are many lodges in here. The (unnamed) hotel on the street that runs at the back side of the market in Salvacion, near Pilcopata in the Manu forest.
The road from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado is very rough.
Tampobata National Reserve – get here from Puerto Maldonado. Go up the Tambopata River or down the Madre de Dios River. Posada Amazonas Lodge. Local families have Casas de Hospedaje. You need to pay a fee in Cusco to enter the reserve.

Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria – get permits from Iquitos office. Mainly river tours but can enter via Maipuco. Illegal to enter park itself, only can go around fringes. There are many jungle lodges around Iquitos. Get boats up and down river.
Pucallpa – Lago Yarinacocha – 1000 bird species.
Maranon Valley. Chiclayo – Cajamarca.
Route -> Lima – Huaraz – Chachapoyas – Pedro Ruis – Tarapoto – Yurimaguas (cargo boat – 3 days) -> Rio Maranon – Nauta – Iquitos.
Huaraz – Yungay – Caraz – Huamachuco – Cajabamba – Cajamarca – Chachapoyas.

Pampa Hermosa Reserve
View the Cock-of-the-Rock, the best time is September to November. There is a bus from Lima to San Ramon. ( ) .

Mollendo and Mejia Bird Sanctuary
The bird sanctuary is just south of town and can be reached by collectivo from top end of Caille Castilla. In Mollendo stay at Hostal Cabana or Hostal Brisas del Mar.

Mirador Cruz del Condor
Start at Pinchollo to see the condors in the Colca Canyons. Stay at Cabanaconde at Hostal Valle del Fuego or Hospedaje Villa Pastor.

Budget Accommodation in Peru

Lima – Hostal Espana, Pension Ibarra.
Cuzco – Las Chosas Lodge, Flying Dog.
Hosteria El Sol, in Coina near Trujillo
Huanchaco – My Friend , Casa Suiza, Hostal Huanchaco, Cherrys, and Chill Out.
Puno and Lake Titicaca – Hostal Europa or Hostal Illampu.
Arequipa – La Reyna, Home Sweet Home.
Huaraz – Jo’s Place, Familia Meza Lodging.
Trujillo – El Conde de Arce, Hostal el Ensueno.
Chiclayo – Hospedaje san Lucas, Katuwira Lodge.
Mancora – Hospedaje Crillon.
Tumbes – Sudamericano, Toloa 1 or 2.
Huamachuco – Castilla 354.
Cajamarca, Hostal Prado, Hostal Plaza.
Chachapoyas – Hotel Karajia, Hotel Plaza.
Tarapoto – Hostal san Antonio, Misti 1.
Junin – Hostal Leo, Glanmarco, Patricia
Tingo Maria – Hostal Cusco.
Pucallpa – Hostal Komby, Hostal Peru.
Lake Yarinacocha – El Pescador, Don Jose’s Alojamiento.
Iquitos is 80km downstream from Pucallpa. Go to Allpahuayo-Mishana Reserve which is 22k south. Boats go to Indiana, then walk to Mazan. Pilpintuhasi Butterfly Farm is near the village of Padre Cocha. Hobo Hideout, Hostal Alfert, Isabel, Hospedaje La Pescana.
Puerto Maldonado – Hostal Moderno, Hospedaje Royal Inn.
Pisco – Hostal san Isidro.
Huacachina – Desert Nights, Hostal Salvatierra.
Mancora – surfing – HII La Posada, The Point

Birding Peru Resources

Google Map with pins of North Peru

Pimentel, Pico Alto, Chicama, Pacasmayo, Punta Tur, Punta Nonura, El Golf, Cabo Blanco, Los Oreganos.
Punta Hermosa, Punta Rocas, Santa Rosa, Cabo Negro, Sangallan, El Olon, Piedras Negras, Caleta La Cruz.

December 5, 2010

South America Overview

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:20 pm

South America

I flew into Buenos Aries from Sydney after a horrendous 14 hour flight. It took me a few days to readjust my body clock. Meanwhile I was really enjoying going to the Costanera Sur reserve on the shores of the River Plate. It took me a few days to get to Esquel after stopping off at Bahia Blanca and Neuquen.

Grey-necked Wood-rail
Buenos Aries, Costanera Sur, Grey-necked Wood-rail (Aramides cajanea)


Talon skiing at La Hoya

I met up with a few Canadians at La Hoya. That is Talon above. I stayed up the mountain for a couple of weeks and then moved down into Esquel and stayed at a hostel for a couple of months.

La Hoya fly park, Jean

This is Jean, a ski instructor at La Hoya, getting some air in the Fly Park. They had some great jumps set up and everyone was getting into it.

Me Skiing
Me skiing la hoya

I got this photo taken by local photographer. I was skiing at the Sol piste. After leaving Esquel in late September, I had a marathon 48 hour bus ride to Salta in Northern Argentina. Then up to the border with Bolivia at La Quiaca, where I was strucken down with altitude sickness for about 3 days.


Into Bolivia with a train from Villazon to Oruro, bypassing the Uyuni salt flats. After a couple of days at Oruro, I hopped on a bus to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Puna Teal
Puna Teal (Anas puna)

Copacabana was a really nice place if you avoided the tourist ripoff joints. I did manage to get sucked into a boat ride to the Isla del Sol which was a great disappointment.


I got a bus across the border to Puno, where we changed buses to get to Arequipa. From Arequipa, I hopped on the Lima bus and got off at the Paracas National Park. Paracas was fantastic. I got lots of photos of new birds along the shores, went on a tour into the desert on the edge of the ocean and had my first taste of cerbiche.

Inca Tern
Inca Tern or Zarcillo (Larosterna inca). Islas Ballestas, paracas , peru.

The boat ride to the Islas Ballestas was fantastic. We saw heaps of cormorants, boobies, sea lions and my favourite, the Inca Tern. After that, it was off to Lima where I stayed next to the beach at Barranco. There were lots of Black Vultures circling about the city, which gave an eerie feel to the place. I rented a surfboard up the coast at Huanchaco, then it was off to Chicama.


Chicama is the longest left-hander in the world. It goes for more than a kilometre. You have to jump off the wave down the beach and walk back out. The water is very cold so you have to wear a long john wetsuit and the current is very strong.

Oasis hummingbird
Oasis Hummingbird, Lobitos

Mancora is in the far north of Peru and is very hot. The water here is warm, so you can surf without a wetsuit which is a welcome change. Further south is the break of Lobitos which has some great surf. The locals really charged it and I got some great photos.


From Lobitos, it was down to Lima for a few days, flew to Puno, then back into Bolivia to La Paz, Cochabamba, Villa Tunari, Buena Vista, and the capital Santa Cruz. Back into Argentina to Salta, Rosario, Parana, Gualeguaychu and Buenos Aires, where I caught the plane back home.

November 3, 2010

Puno Birding

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:06 pm

Birds of Puno, Lake Titicaca, Peru

Last night I went down to the waterfront at Puno to see what birds I could find. I wandered off along the lake from the port area towards the south. There were lots of these Yellow-winged Blackbirds flying in and out of the reeds and feeding on the mud-flats before the lake. I could not find much evidence of their yellow patches on their wings. I am thinking it might be a breeding plumage thing.

Yellow-winged Blackbird
Yellow-winged Blackbird (male) (Angelaius thilius)

And here is the female. The female has quite a lot of streaking on the belly and front.

Yellow-winged Blackbird
Yellow-winged Blackbird (female) (Angelaius thilius)

The other bird I saw on the mud-flats was the White-winged Cinclodes. I had seen similar to this bird on the Bolivian side of the lake at Copacabana.

White-winged Cinclodes
White-winged Cinclodes (Cinclodes atacamensis)

At first I thought this Plumbeous Rail was an Andean Moorhean, but the bill was too long and not stumpy enough. The Plumbeous Rail is distributed from Peru across to Brazil and down to Tierra del Fuego. They like marshes and ponds surrounded by dense vegetation.

Plumbeous Rail
Plumbeous Rail (Pardirallus sanguinolentus)

The Greater Yellowlegs breeds in the boreal forsts of Canada and Alaska and migrate to the USA and South America. They eat mainly insects and small fish.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleauca)

The Puna Ibis is a member of the Threskiornithidae family of Ibises. They are found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Its natural habitat is swamps.

Puna Ibis
Puna Ibis – Yanavico – (Plegadis ridgwayi)

Other birds I saw were the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Speckled Teal, Andean Gull and Puna Teal.

Puno bird list

Common Moorhen
White-winged Cinclodes
Speckled Teal
Andean Gull
Ywllow-winged Blackbird
Puna Ibis
Puna Teal
Greater Yellowlegs
Plumbeous Rail

From Lima to Puno

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 2:03 pm

Flight from Lima to Juliaca, Peru

I decided to fly to Puno from Lima because the costs would have worked out about the same and I would have saved about a week by not taking buses. The Tuesday flight was $150. I could have waited until Wednesday when the flight would have cost $100, but I wanted to get moving.

I had to wake up at 3:45am and get a taxi to the airport. The taxi driver was half asleep as well and I apologised to him for making him get up so early. I checked in at Star Peru and then finally succeeded in buying a cappuccino and doughnut for breakfast. We boarded the plane and this guy helped us to back up the plane so we could take off.

Ground Control
Star Peru employee

We even got a couple of biscuits on the flight and a cup of orange juice.

Algo para tomar
“Algo para tomar, Senor?”

When we approached the Andes, the mountains were like islands sticking out of the sea of clouds. We were flying at about 8,000 meters and you could see the tops of the mountains, roads and some small villages.

Andean Peak sticking through the clouds
An Andean peak sticking out of the clouds

We soared into Cuzco and made a stop-off, then took off again for Juliaca. The whole flight only took about two hours all up. At Juliaca, I caught a shared taxi to Puno and am now staying at the Bothy Backpackers Hostel. And I have another bout of Altitude Sickness, so I am not impressed about that.

October 31, 2010

Sunday in Lima Centro

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 9:01 pm

Lima, Peru

Today I did the tourist thing and went into Lima Centro to check it out. I was going to do one of those city tours on the top of the bus but they were too ezpensive – 50 Soles, what a rip-off! After having a shower and forgetting to take my towel, I hopped on the Metropolitano to the Central Station. I had no idea where I was going, I just got off the bus and started walking down the street.

I saw this big building and there were lots of markets inside, so I went in. It turned out to be the central markets, as far as I could tell. There were rows and rows of little shops selling clothes, electronics, DVD’s and shoes. I never saw so many shoes before. I was not really interested, but if you had a shoe fetish you would be in heaven, or hell.

Lima Markets
More shoes than you could poke a stick at in Lima markets

I walked around and checked everything out but did not buy anything. I went upstairs to the cafeteria area and had cerviche and pescado frito(fried fish). I really love Cerviche and its everywhere in Peru. I do not know what I am going to do when I leave Peru and there is no more Cerviche. Maybe I will have to get a recipe and make it for myself. Someone here should know how to do it.

After the markets, I walked down the road and checked out the traffic on the streets. It really is chaotic. There are buses and taxis and cars going all over the place, without any seeming organisation. This collectivo stopped near where I was and the conductor just starts yelling out the destination and drumming up business.

Lima Collectivo
Collectivo waiting for passengers in Lima street

There was not much to do around where I was. I could not find any tourist information, so I trudged back to the Metropolitano terminal and jumped on the bus back to Barranco, where I am staying. The Metropolitano is a good new system that goes through Lima from North to South. It has dedicated lanes on the roads and is quite efficient and quick. Notice the obligatory youth playing crappy South American pop music on his mobile phone at full volume.

Metropolitano Lima
On the metropolitano, Lima

When I got back to Barranco, I found a stall in the park selling real espresso coffee, so that was the highlight of the day. Sunday in Lima, that is it.

October 25, 2010

Lobitos, North Peru 3

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:52 pm

More Lobitos Surf and Birds

Los Lobitos tube, Northern Peru

I really like this photo

This guy is as deep as you can get and still be seen

Something different

Some green water for a change


Oasis hummingbird
Oasis Hummingbird

ID required
Cinereous Finch (Piezorhina cinerea)

October 23, 2010

Lobitos, North Peru

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:13 pm

Lobitios surfing and birds

Bodyboarder getting tubed at Lobitos Point

Lobitos 424

Lobitos - Piscina
Chileno dude getting some sick air at piscinas

Lobitos - Piscina
Leo getting shacked in some very wild water at piscinas

Lobitos - Piscina
Leo off the lip at piscinas

Lobitos - Piscina
Nice cutback

Lobitos - Piscina
Getting some air


royal tern
Royal Tern, Sterna maxima

Black Vulture
Black Vulture

Peruvian Pelican
Peruvian Pelican, Pelecanus thagus

October 22, 2010

Surfing and Birds at Lobitos

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:32 pm

Los Lobitos Surfing and Birds

I finally made it to Lobitos, which is about 70 kilometers south of Mancora. On the way I was quite surprised to see lots of oil rigs pumping away in the desert. there is even one on the beach here. Lobitos is a deserted town inhabited only by surfers and fishermen. Its like surfing on the moon here, it is so desolate and barren.

Wide shot of Lobitos

This morning a bunch of Chilean dudes were out at Lobitos point ripping it up. They are used to these conditions, often riding cold, big waves.

A Chileno Goofy-footer cuts back

The inside wave was spitting out barrels like Pipeline. I think it may have been impossible to ride. These guys were surfing the next section along the point.

Pulls into a barrel

Conditions here are pretty tough. The wind is always blowing really hard, the water is freezing cold, and there are no hot showers. Othere than that, there is great company, surfers from all over the place just hanging out and having fun.

A backhand barrel

Birds of Lobitos

Going down to the beach this morning I was quite surprised to see a little camouflaged bird darting around the bushes.

Coastal Miner (Geositta peruviana)

These green parrot type birds were camouflaged very well against the green ground bushes next to the beach. Some had blue flashes on them.

Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis)

While others were all green.

Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis)

October 20, 2010

Birds of Mancora 2

Filed under: South America — Tags: — admin @ 7:10 pm

Mancora Birds #2

Well, yesterday I did not go for a surf but took the camera for a walk to try and photograph some birds. As soon as I got past the end of the hostel wall, I saw this hummingbird on the overhead wire. I had been seeing him for the last few days scooping in and out of the garden feeding on the red flowers. I had a look at the hummingbirds for South America on Arthur Grosset’s web-site, but there were thousands of them. So I am going to wait until I get home before I try and identify any hummingbirds.

hummingbird 1
Amazilia Hummingbird (Amazilia amazilia)

That one had a mainly orange back and orange in the stomach area. Further down the road at some hotel, they had the water sprays going on the garden and another variety of hummingbird was having a nice bath and slipping around on the wet leaves.

hummingbird 2
Oasis Hummingbird (Rhodopis vesper)

This one may have been having a drink or just playing around in the water. I have no idea. It had a purple patch under the chin.

hummingbird 2
Oasis Hummingbird (Rhodopis vesper)

Later on he flew up onto the wire and did some very strange gyrations and flapped his wings around and contorted his body in all strange shapes. This is one of the pretty ones.

hummingbird 2
Oasis Hummingbird (Rhodopis vesper)

Later on, down the beach, I spotted this wader that I cannot seem to identify as yet. It is not a surfbird, but I cannot seem to place it. I looked all over – not a sandpiper, etc. I am stumped. It was a Willet, Tringa semipalmata.

not sure yet
Willet, Tringa semipalmata

Last night and this morning I have been for a surf and it has been pretty good, but small. This morning I snapped the fin in my board and had to buy another one for 35 Soles. There may be some waves tonight and tomorrow morning. I am waiting for the swell to pick up and the high tides to be in the early mornings.

There have been lots of sea birds about, but they are nearly mostly all Peruvian Boobys, Peruvian Pelicans and Magnficent Frigatebirds. the Peruvian Boobys sometimes fly horizontally into the water to catch fish. They just cruise about above the waves and then whack! dive into the water to catch a fish. There are lots of fish around here. The water is full of them jumping about, so it must be easy for the sea birds to get a feed of fish. There are both Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures in Mancora, but the Black Vultures seem to stick to the pueblo whilst the Turkey Vultures hang out at the beach.

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