Main Tourist Attractions of Tumbes
Tumbes´ Main Square (Plaza de Armas)
The Main Square is one of the city’s interesting attractions. After having been reformed, it presents a scene in which stands out an acoustic shell covered with mosaic, called The Encounter of Two Worlds, as the image makes allusion to the arrival of the Spanish and all the region’s natural richness. In the center, one can observe the representation of the Cacique Chilimasa, Curaca (Chief) of the area, who resisted against the Spanish troops. There, the locals stroll around and rest, in the shade of the trees.
The San Nicolás de Tolentino Main Church
It is located on the Main Square and was built in the 17th century, by Augustinian priests. In that baroque style church, two semicircular arches stand out, along with the ceiling composed of gables, on two levels, and pointed arched domes, covered with mosaics. Inside it, one can appreciate the Main Altar, in carved wood, with applied mosaics, and stained-glass windows, with scenes of the life of Jesus, as well as images of Saints and the Virgin, complemented by an excellent wood carving of Christ.
There are several walks that invite you to get to know the city. Among them, La Concordia, Los Libertadores, Jerusalén and Triunfino stand out. Other places well frequented by Tumbes´ inhabitants, are: The Boulevard de la Madre (The Mother’s Boulevard), the Plazoleta El Beso (The Kiss´ Square), the Bolognesi Square and the Airplane’s Park.
The Tourist Vantage Point and Palo Santo Private Natural Area
It is a vantage point built on the city’s highest hill, only five minutes by car, from which it is possible to observe good part of the area’s geography. The vantage point is located in a Private Natural Area called Palo Santo, with forests composed of typical species of the region, such as carob trees, palo santo, hualtacos and charanes.
The place is the habitat of over 30 bird species, many of which are endemic of the region of Tumbes, reason for which paths were traced, so that visitors might be able to better observe the region’s flora and fauna. It can be visited throughout the year.
It is located just 13 km. from the city of Tumbes (15 minutes by car). The fishermen’s cove of Puerto Pizarro is the departure point, to visit, on a boat, the mangroves that form an ecosystem composed of navigable canals which are part of the Tumbes River’s delta. These mangroves can reach a height of up to six meters, forming islands, due to the accumulation of sediments and mud. Thus, during the tour, we’ll have a chance to land on Love’s Island and Whale Bone Island, the beaches of which are the most important in the area. Furthermore, Birds´ Island is the refuge of a great variety of birds, and is ideal to observe them, especially at dusk, when they come back to their nests, to sleep.
The mangroves are known for their nursery of Tumbes´ crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus); a unique species in Peru, and currently, in danger of extinction. Besides, these mangroves are famous for their variety of black shells and mollusks that are very much appreciated for their flavor, in meals and for their aphrodisiac properties. It is recommendable to visit the mangroves between May and December, because, during the rainy season (From January to April), visit services might be subject to restrictions.
It is the adequate place for the extraction of black shells and mollusks. So, you will have a chance to observe and purchase souvenirs and typical handicraft based on marine resources, many of which made with the spondylus shell (Spondylus pictorium) considered as sacred by the ancient people of Tumbes, since it was worth more than gold to them.
Tumbes´ Mangrove National Sanctuary
This sanctuary is situated about 30 km. from the city of Tumbes (30 minutes by car). It is a forest mainly composed of four species of mangrove trees: The red mangrove tree (Rhizophora mangle), the salted mangrove tree (Avicennia germinans), the white mangrove tree (Laguncularia racemosa) and the button mangrove tree (Conocarpus erectus), as well as another 40 plant species.
These mangroves are the adequate habitat and in many cases, the only refuge for a broad range of plant and animal species. Regarding the aquatic fauna, there are 33 species of snails, 34 of crustaceans, 24 of shelled molluscs and 105 fish species, many of which of commercial value.
We also find over 200 bird species, many of which unique and endangered, such as herons of different species or the frigate bird (Fregata Magni-Ficens) and mammals with a restricted distribution and in scarce or endangered situation, like the mangrove’s mapache or shell eating dog (Procyon Cancrivorus), the North-eastern otter (Lutra longicaudis), the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), in current danger of extinction. You must have an authorization from the State Protected Natural Areas´ National Service (SERNANP), in order to enter the Sanctuary.
Tumbes´ Reserved Zone
It is located 51 km. North-east of the city of Tumbes (1 hour on a pickup truck). It is an area in which the general topography corresponds to low and steep hills, and it is a representative sample of the ecosystem of the Pacific tropical forest, unique in Peru, reason for which it has been integrated in the North-western Peruvian Biosphere Reserve, due to its importance.
It is composed of two well differenced ecological areas: Dry forests and humid forests which are the habitat of over 130 bird species and of many animals, like the North-western otter (Lontra longicaudis), Tumbes´ coto monkey (Allouatta palliate) and the jaguar (Panthera onca), among other species. The flora is constituted of ceibo trees, carob trees, angolo, pretino, palo santo and guayacán trees.
Amotape’s Mountains National Park
It is located in the Province of Contralmirante Villar, about 36 km. from the city of Tumbes (40 minutes by car). This park has an extension of 91,300 hectares and it is located on the border between the regions of Tumbes and Piura. Its altitude varies from 120 m.a.s.l. (Rica Playa) to 1,538 m.a.s.l. (Cerro Campana), and its varied geography combines the dry tropical forest, with the hills of the Northern Peruvian Cordillera or Cerros de Amotape.
These mountains gather a great biological diversity, and there, the carob tree grows, along with the hualtaco, charan, zapote, pasallo and guayacán trees. The wild fauna is quite diversified and includes species representative of the tropical forest, of dry areas and of the Cordillera of the Andes, such as the Andean condor, tigrillo, red deer, sajino, Northern ant eater bear, spectacled bear, grey deer, white-necked squirrel and red-headed parakeet. It also is the habitat of restricted distribution species, like the crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and otter (Lontra longicaudis).
Because of its ecological importance, it has been considered as part of Peru’s North-western Biosphere Reserve, to which one can have access, to do ecological tourism, observing flora and fauna, as well as navigate on the Tumbes River. Therefore, there are different circuits which include hikes on hills and in gorges.
The Cabeza de Vaca (Cow’s Head) Archaeological Complex
It is situated 5 km. South-west of the city of Tumbes (About 10 minutes by car), and its enclosures are built with stones and sun-dried mud bricks (Adobes). There, pieces of ceramics, bones and stone instruments were found, still dispersed around the adjacent hills.
Research work indicates an occupation time period which extends from the Chimú culture’s Late Intermediate Period, to the Incan Late Horizon Period. This archaeological site had a notable transcendence, in pre-Hispanic times, since it was possible to distinguish a workshop in which shells like the spondylus and bivalves were being worked. In addition, an 8 km. trail was found, built with boulders, which connected the archaeological site with the coast, as well as an irrigation canal and a truncated pyramid in sun-dried mud bricks of 250 meters long, 100 meters wide and 15 meters high, or Huaca (Sacred place) called “Cow’s Head”.
The Spanish chroniclers knew it as “Corrales” (Animal Pens), San Pedro de los Incas” (Saint Peter of the Incas) or “Ancient Tumbes”. It has a Site Museum, in which are exhibited the main pieces found in the research excavations.
The Zorritos Seaside Resort
Located about 28 km. from the city of Tumbes (30 minutes by car), Zorritos is one of the Northern Peruvian coast’s most beautiful seaside resorts, and it has all it takes for you to enjoy spectacular vacations: Nice weather all year long, warm sea, a beautiful beach and delicious dishes based on fish and seafood. Furthermore, its fine sand beach and warm waters are ideal to practice sports like jet-ski, surfing and fishing. It is a place of beautiful dusks and unforgettable relax on the beach.
Punta Sal Beach
It is situated about 80 km. from the city of Tumbes (1 hour and 15 minutes by bus). It is one of the most beautiful and long beaches, on the country’s Northern coast, which is characterized by its calm and warm waters, with an average temperature of 24? C (75? F). Punta Sal, also known as Punta Sal Grande (Great Salt End), is an immense horseshoe-shaped beach, with nearly 5 km. in length, with clean and calm waters. The Southern part of the beach is rocky with some small pool formations meanwhile its central and Northern parts are sandy.
The Hervideros Thermal Baths
They are located about 40 km. from the city of Tumbes (45 minutes by car), South of Zorritos, where the water springs forth from a very fine clay area in which a mixture is formed, with components such as iodine, chlorates and iron which give it medicinal properties, while the concentration of mineral substances in dissolution, gives it an aspect similar to that of a mud volcano or a boiling substance.