Huanchaco / Mancora and how our bus got robbed

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August 13th 2015
Published: August 13th 2015
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Boy oh boy, am I behind with the blog. So I better get cracking and update it before I forget what has happened or I don’t have the time to write it down.

After an amazing, and exhausting, time with Carla in Lima it was time for her to get back home to Brasilia and for me to continue my trip. Carla’s flight was early in the morning and I had booked an overnight bus to Huanchaco in the north of Peru. So I had a whole day to kill in Lima and as I really liked the centre I took a taxi there and just strolled around, had a great lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere. After all, who knows when, and if at all, I would come back to this wonderful city? At 19.00 I went back to the hotel, grabbed my backpack and went to the bus station where my bus left at 22.00.

The busses in Peru are one of the best in South America and the better ones feel more like an airplane experience, complete with food service, in-bus entertainment (movies galore) and WC. Most of the busses have two levels and the more expensive seats are on the lower deck where the seats turn into beds. As a rule of thumb one hour bus travel costs about US $1 which is dirt cheap. I always try to get the better seats when I travel overnight, but this time I missed out so I had to settle for a seat up on the top level. Which in hindsight was a good thing. For security reasons normally every passenger is photographed before entering the bus and all hand luggage is searched for weapons; after all we are in South America. So off we went and after settling in, watching a movie or two I tried to sleep, thinking about my last two weeks and looking forward to a rest from sightseeing and running around like a mad man.

About 2.00 in the morning the bus had stopped and I woke up from some screaming from the lower deck. Not knowing what has happened I looked out of the window and saw 3 guys with AK47 running from the bus into the bushes. Now that is not a sight you see every day. The passengers of the bus, especially on the lower level, were in total panic and understandably so; we have been ambushed by some armed robbers. What happened was, when the bus stopped to change the drivers, the robbers got on the bus and robbed the people on the lower level at gunpoint.

After a while the police arrived, started to take statements from the passengers and after about 2 hours we were transferred to different busses to continue our journey to Huanchaco. I have meet two other gringos that were on the bus and when we arrived we took a taxi to a hostel right on the beach. Problem was that our luggage was still on the first bus and we were told that we will get it around lunchtime that day. That of course didn’t happen until the next day.

Huanchaco is a small seaside resort on the Pacific Ocean and a tourist place. So you have heaps of hostels, bars and restaurants. The beach was real crappy so I didn’t even go there after inspecting it. As it was out of the holiday season it was pretty quiet and that was fine with me. After the hectic time in Lima it was nice just to kick back and relax. One of the guys I met on the bus was a chef and since the hostel had a kitchen he made some amazing food, which was a nice break from eating in restaurants all the time.

There was not much to do in Huanchaco except to visit the Inca ruins Chan Chan in a town called Trujillo nearby. They were pretty impressive and it is said that several thousand people used to live there. Here I saw for the first time the native Peruvian hairless dogs and my first thought was how ugly they were. If I wouldn’t have been told about these dogs I would have thought that they must be sick or something; they hardly have any hair on their body at all.

After a few days in Huanchaco it was time to relocate to another beach town with a better beach so I took the bus to Mancora, about 8 hours north and close to the Ecuador boarder. Now Mancora has some fantastic beaches and I had a great time there, again doing nothing but relax. I am normally not a person that is good in the art of relaxing, but if I do, man do I relax. I found a real nice hostel that was quiet and very close to the beach. The manager of the hostel organised ping pong events at some nights and the people that stayed at the place were all backpackers that were on the road for a long time, so I had some real interesting conversations. Another attraction nearby is the opportunity to swim with sea turtles and since I have never done this a must for me. And I have to say it is an experience to swim with these magnificent animals. I cannot understand why on earth people go out and kill these animals for fun…

So after 7 days of doing more or less nothing but relax it was time to travel to the next country – Ecuador. The last time I have been there was in 1982 and I was looking forward to come back. Ecuador was one of my favourite countries I have had visited so I was curious how it had changed. And I also had booked a plane to visit the famous Galapagos Islands which I didn’t visit the last time I was in Ecuador. But that story is for the next update.

So this is it for this update. I had a great time on this leg of the trip, even if our bus was robbed. To be honest I didn’t expect this to happen in Peru, but in either Bolivia or Paraguay. But that shows you that things like this happen when you least expect it. But such is life, full of surprises. Thank you for reading to the end and as usual leave comments and please vote on some of the pictures if you like them. Take care wherever you are and enjoy your life.

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 26


13th August 2015

Glad you are safe
WOW! That was a close one! I had a similar bus experience in Honduras except the ones who stopped the bus and had the guns were the police!!! They frisked everyone but only searched my luggage. I was told later they were looking for money or drugs as contraband. I've taken those buses in Peru ( from Lima to Ica) and they are beautiful and luxurious. On one they played a BINGO type game and I won a bottle of Pisco ;-) Try to get to Vilcabamba in Southern Ecuador. It is full of massage therapists and opportunities to go horseback riding. Have a massage before AND after you ride. Also, try to get to Cuenca. It is about a 1 1/2 hour flight from Quito. It is a lovely colonial town. Safe journey. Are you coming to the USA?
13th August 2015

Thank you ....
... for your comment. I have heard some horror stories about the cops in South America, especially Bolivia and Columbia. But so far I was lucky. Maybe has something to do with that I am 1.93 m tall so people think twice messing with me. I have been in Cuenca and it is beautiful. But more to that in the next update. I am back in Brasilia right now catching up with the blog. And unfortunately I am not making it to the US this time. Take care wherever you are and keep on traveling......
13th August 2015

"Could have been me"
It's potentially life changing how "It could have been me" can cross our paths when we travel. What would have happened if you had got your usual overnight possie downstairs and you were robbed at gunpoint? Quite a different travel plan would follow I reckon. Hope the luck stays with you.
13th August 2015

It could have....
... been me. Thing is that I normally travel on the lower deck but not this time; they had no seats left. So I was lucky. And you are right with saying it could have changed my travels. But such is life. Sometimes I think I have some spirits looking after me with all the shit I did in my life and I am still around. May they look after me for a long time coming. Stay save Dave and keep on traveling. And maybe one day our paths will cross...
14th August 2015

Far too long to hear from you
The road has been keeping you busy. OMG my heart would have stopped. You always have such interesting issues, stories and adventures. Let us know when you come to the US.
14th August 2015

Well Dave...
...I am not making it up. I think if you travel the way I do sooner or later you experience shit like that. But all is good. And compared with what other peoples go through I am lucky.
14th August 2015
Inca ruins of Chan Chan

Bus robberies
I've been living in Peru for a bit and read the front page of the newspapers when I pass the stands. Unfortunately, bus robberies definitely are an occurrence down here--more so on the cheap buses that I take, but also on even the fancy ones. Amazing that what at first seemed unlucky--not getting the bed seat--turned out to be very lucky! Love your photos of Chan Chan!
14th August 2015
Inca ruins of Chan Chan

Thanks for the comment ...
... and yes I heard they are on the increase. Shame. And as I said I didn't expect it in Peru of all places. And yes I was lucky. Chan Chan is amazing and I am surprised that not more people know about it. But South America is full of great places to visit. Enjoy your travels.......
18th August 2015

This just happened here in UK aswell..
29th September 2015

Greetings oh travelled one. Good to se that you're still on the go. I'm just back from England and Scotland visiting alte Freunde and enjoying historical sites. Off to Cuba mid November. Any chance we can meet up there? Jock is in a bad way and is not long for this world but is still noisy and robust in spirit. Hop you are and remain well. DavidA

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