Lobitos and Talara – surf eat sleep

After spending almost 1,5 months in Ecuador it was time get some more watertime and waves again. The decision was to head to Lobitos which by rumour is the area in Peru with the best and most consistent waves. The plan was to stay for 3 weeks and maybe longer if it would still be a pleasure and the waves would keep on pumping.

To reach the little town of lobitos it is first necessary to head to Talara (if taking the bus) and from there a road sometimes sealed but mostly unsealed leads to Lobitos. Talara is a busy little city boasting a fishing port and hosting the oil industry which operates in the area. On the way to Lobitos operating oil pumping units extracting oil from the ground below the desert are passed and the first impression when reaching Lobitos is a Ghosttown that only lacks tumbleweeds in the streets blowing in from the surrounding desert.

The petroleum activities in the area of Lobitos used to be operated by the International Petroleum Company (IPC), which began its oil extracting operations at the turn of the 20th century in 1901. They primarily had foreign people employed in the oil fields and for recreational purposes  Lobitos was the first place in South America to have a Cinema and a Casino along with all the necessary buildings and equipment for extracting the oil which in addition included a desalination plant. In 1968 a military coup occured  in Peru and very shortly after the Military junta nationalised the petroleum industry and took over the Lobitos area while throwing out the IPC, and strategically installed military in the area as the nearby Talara has a airfield. This led to the demise of the once grand little town for the english and american oil workers as the military officers would loot the stylish old buildings for anything they were worth and sell it off to the people interested.

I quickly realized the potential of the waves in this area and how fun and addicting they can be. This fact has led many surfers from all over the world to this little area of no importance and little to offer other than perfect waves. Even though there is about 6 surf breaks within a short distance of 5 km and the waves break very consistently it still gets very crowded with surfers in the water at times. This turns into a lot of hassling in the water, drop ins and  ruined waves, but most of the time it doesn´t lead to any aggression and it seems to be tolerated and the way the line-ups here in Peru and most likely the rest of South America works.

The future for Lobitos looks in many peoples perspective bleak. Oil is still being extracted from the underground, with many pumping stations spread all across the area, with many being close to habitations and schools. Furthermore the new resource consisting of perfect waves which has recently (the last 10-15 years) started to be tapped by surfer from all over the world brings new development to Lobitos. The development can already be noticed with numurous of hotels, lodge and guesthouses catering to surfers have popped all over the place, and are being built all the way down to the very sand on the beach. Rumours of the whole Lobitos area being for sale for a great sum in the million dollar range and the proposed building of big hotels turning Lobitos into a surf and resort kind of town sounds alarming for the personality of this place and the enjoyment of the waves as big crowds already come to experience the perfect waves, after the word has been spread to the rest of the surfing world.

After 6 weeks, I felt like I had stayed one week too long and it was time to head on to another surftown further south called Huanchaco.

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