Only 30km from the Ecuadorean border, Tumbes is in a uniquely green part of coastal Peru, where dry deserts magically turn into mangroves and an expanse of ecological reserves stretches in all directions. It’s also the springboard for trips to the excellent and popular beaches of Máncora, two hours further south.
A flashpoint for conflict during the 1940–41 border war between Ecuador and Peru, Tumbes remains a garrison town with a strong military presence. It’s hot and (depending on the season) dusty or buggy, and most travelers don’t stay long. But as far as border towns go, it’s not the worst you’ll come across – a pleasant plaza, interesting mosaics around town, a cool elevated riverwalk and several pedestrianized streets make for a tolerable evening. The nearby national reserves are distinctive as well and a boon for nature buffs, but most travelers are quick to put Tumbes in their rearview mirror.

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