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Tip-to-Tip Surf Trip: South to North America on motorbikes



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Webseries "The West Road - a Pan American surf adventure" hits Peru

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Surfersvillage in August of 2016. As we eye the upcoming Southern Hemisphere travel season we thought it a good time to get reacquainted with travel through The Land of The Lefts. (Plus, motorcycles are pretty hip at the moment.)

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 January, 2017 - The latest installment of "The West Road - a Pan American surf adventure" takes us through Peru with adventurous travellers Tom Bing and Sally McGee from the UK.

Bing and McGee set off Northwards late 2015 riding small motorbikes from Santiago, Chile with the goal of reaching Northern California later in 2016. Central to their adventure is being able to surf the whole journey so they'll be hugging the coastline as much as possible, planning on passing through 12 countries in total, clocking up around 15,000 miles...

The last time we wrote we had just got to Pacasmayo in Northern Peru; well, not the far North of Peru but pretty far up there. Lots of people had split opinions over Pacasmayo, some said it was the best Peruvian pointbreak, others weren't so bothered. Chicama was so good that we were excited to reach it's potentially better brother. We rode up and found a hostel to stay in, Pacasmayo is a pretty big town and we didn't really want to camp there for similar reasons to Chicama.

We didn't find the 'surfer' hostel but one that popped up online that probably was, once upon a time, popular with surfers. When we got there, it was empty; not a single other person in a huge hostel. The surf was no good and it was my birthday so we had a nice day cruising around town shooting some video, eating amazing fruit and cheap food. We were going to leave the next day but knew we might regret it as there was a good swell coming so we stayed. The next morning went back to the point on one bike and waited it out until someone turned up.


It looked like there were a few fun waves out there and when some super nice guys we had met from Florida turned up, we paddled out with them. Although it didn't have the 'world class' look that Chicama or other waves had; it didn't really look like a point break even, we had a few hours of good sized fun waves with just the four of us out. At low tide later when it was supposed to be better, there was more wind, about thirty people were out who dropping in, snaking and pushing eachother too deep.

It was a circus out there, we had it so much better. The fact that the wave wasn't all it was cracked up to be (from our experience), our hostel was pretty bad and we were in a big busy town solidified our decision to leave and head North. At this point we were counting down the days until we reached the end of this desert that we had entered three and a half months earlier.

We decided on Lobitos and found a hostel that looked like we could camp at for cheap. It was at the next point along called Piscinas. We set off early for the huge journey up there, it was 460KM, the longest journey we have done in a day yet. When we arrived we were exhausted but set up camp next to the hostel, grabbed a rare cold beer and hung out with some of the English people that were volunteering there.

The location was amazing, right on the beach and way out in the middle of nowhere but it had a real fly problem and there were thousands of mosquitoes too which was really annoying. The town had suffered some flooding from the rare rains and was still recovering. It was also more than half an hour down dirt and sand and across flooded roads to get to the town with fresh fruit and veg. We were kind of tied to eating at the Hostel, it wasn't cheap or great but we survived. The terrace had a clear view of the wave, which was really good but very busy at times.


We surfed a lot, it was easy; no wetsuits needed and just 200m to run across the hot sand to get in. We'd jump in, have a few good waves and go back in when we got tired. The small group of really good locals had the take-off dialled and would sit behind the rock and get the pick of the waves. This definitely pushed us to take off deeper; Sally was taking some really critical drops and making them, one local even told his mate that "That girl will throw herself into anything".

We surfed at least twice or three times a day every day for a week and camped for cheap. The best thing about the week were the people we met though. Steve and Julie from Indiana were a couple who were around sixty years old who were just awesome people we loved hanging around with. Volunteering at a hostel in Northern Peru after working all their lives and raising four kids is really inspiring.

I think next time they travel they will be on little Honda's though. One bad thing was that Sally got really sick for a day and night, throwing up and feeling really weak, the tent offered no respite from the heat but luckily a girl kindly offered her bed for the day, thanks Georgie!


The day we left, I was feeling pretty rough but made it out of the town and onto the Pan Am, about half an hour in I was on my hands and knees throwing up by the side of the road. I was useless and it was pretty dangerous to be on the road but we made it to a town about an hour North and Sally sorted everything out for us at a motel and I just slept it off. We knew there were good waves we were missing but the chart looked bad and we can't go everywhere and wait for waves so we decided to make a run for the Ecuador border the next day.

We packed up in the dark and headed North about two hours until we hit the border. The crossing was fine, we were so relieved we had all the documents we ended up getting as there was a fair bit of paperwork for them to fill in but we crossed in a couple of hours. In the space of less than two or three hours, the desert landscape fell away and turned green, really green. Banana plantations, rice paddy fields, tropical plants and trees and coconuts for sale by the side of the road everywhere.

We were so happy to leave that desert behind! We had one night in a horrific motel with a huge cockroach and then headed to Montañita, kind of by accident, we just wanted some internet to plan where else we want to go. It was pretty horrific there, a kind of dystopian tourist haven. We have just arrived in Ayampe and there are waves on the way. Now this place is more our scene..$5 dollar camping, waves out front and a way more chilled vibe. Will post more when we make some more progress. 

Find out more here on Tom and Sally's blog



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