Traveling southward from Tumbes, the Pan-American Highway threads together one fishing village after another, accentuated with the occasional resort town. Warm waters wash onto the pale grey beaches. Surfing is a prized sport on these shores, as is sport fishing and bird watching. A mere 27 kilometers (16 mi) south of Tumbes is Zorritos, one of Peruâ€™s best-kept secrets. Here three hamlets string together for about five kilometers (3 mi) along the Pan-American Highway. They provide a much more pleasant introduction to Peru than Tumbes.
Balneario Zorritos at Kilometer 1241.5 is the first sector of town. A monument to the first oil rig drilled in South America greets the visitor. Going southward are the villageâ€™s only bank, and the municipal buildings and church around a small plaza. The balneario is where most hotels and restaurants are. The Pan-Am here is called Avenida Faustino Piaggio. Contralmirante Villar (Kilometer 1238), simply known as Villar, is the next link in the Zorritos necklace. Along Avenida RepĂşblica del PerĂş (so the highway is now called) are bus company offices, the fishing port and the market. This stretch also has less expensive hotels and restaurants. Parque Grau, with a chapel, is the center of this hamlet and the stop for combis and collective taxis to Tumbes. Kilometer 1237 marks the beginning of Los Pinos, the last of Zorritosâ€™ principal beaches. Here the Pan-Americana is known as Avenida Los Pinos.
Zorritos used to be a bustling petroleum town. Here, in 1863, the first oil rig in South America was sunk. Faustino Piaggio is credited with establishing Peruâ€™s national petroleum industry. Up into the 1940s, the headquarters were here. Yet about 22 oil and natural gas platforms are offshore, though few are in actual operation. Nowadays, Zorritosâ€™ economy is based on fishing and tourism, with petroleum exploration on the rise once more. A museum of the industry's history is in the works.
In the austral summer, vacationing Peruvians and Ecuadorians arrive to ride the surf the warm waters of this coast. During the rest of the year, a few foreign tourists come to learn surfing, laze on the beach or soak in the nearby hot springs.
(Altitude: 6 m/20 ft, Population: 13,450, Phone Code: 072)
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