Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

The North Coast and Northern Highlands Travel Guide


About an hour's drive north of the beach resorts of Máncora and Punta Sal is Tumbes, the last city on the Peruvian side of the Peru-Ecuador border. Tumbes played a major role in Peruvian history: it was here that Pizarro first saw the riches of the vast Inca Empire in 1528, which he would return to conquer in 1532. In the past, tensions were high—it wasn't until 1941 that Tumbes became part of Peru after a military skirmish.

Tensions are now minimal. Hot, muggy Tumbes is unlike anywhere else in the country. The coastal desert that has defined the Pan-American Highway all the way to Chile is no more, and in its place is a landscape that is decidedly more tropical, with mangrove forests and banana plantations. For most visitors Tumbes is just a transit point to or from Ecuador or a quick stop before an early flight. The city has few attractions or attractive places to spend the night, but for those with the urge to explore, there are several excellent national parks, and there is plenty of inexpensive shellfish plus an atmosphere you will not find anywhere else in Peru.

If you find yourself crossing the border at Aguas Verdes, be extra aware of your personal belongings. Like many border towns, it has its fair share of counterfeit money, illegal goods, and scams to get money from foreigners.

Read More

Explore Tumbes



Trip Finder
Travel Phrases

Learn Spanish Phrases before or while you're on the go!

Download Now

No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE e-mail communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

How we use your email

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.