Riding a mototaxi along the path that the locals call vía Las Salineras, some white mounds catch our attention. Scattered on the plain that surrounds us, they stad out for their impeccable color that is clearly distinguishable from the sand. "It’s salt," said Secundino Ruiz, former representative of the INC in the district and local owner of the renowned restaurant “San Felipe.” And even though they resemble small pieces of quartz, Secundino is right.
This area of southern Colán has a salty soil that allows the formation of this mineral by digging trenches of around 2.50 meters of depth. Almost at sea level, water seeps through the ground and then, due to sunlight, evaporates leaving salt behind. Walk freely among the excavations. Maybe you’re lucky and run into some local members of the Association of Salt Treatment working on the extraction of salt.
How to get there
Colán is situated 65 kilometers west of Piura.
If you don’t have a car, you can take a taxi from the Piura airport for S/.145. (One off the street will charge you S/.100 but might not be safe). Another way to get there is through a public bus (bus company Dora, in Avenida Sánchez Cerro 1387. Cost: S/.3) to Paita and there take a taxi to Colán. Once in the town, the main means of transport are mototaxis which cost between S/.4 and S/.6 depending on the distance.
Hotels in Copán
Sunset Bay Hotel: Playa La Esmeralda, south wing of Colán. Phone: (073) – 674 008 / (073) – 96 9624155. Nextel: 825 5485, sunsetbaycolan.com.
Playa Colán Lodge Bungalows: Reservations at Piura Tours: (073) 326 778, mobile: 969 752530, playacolanlodge.com.pe.
Hotel El Sol de Colan: Av. Costanera C-27. (076) 976 924 860, Nextel: 135 7525; elsoldecolanhotel.com.
Costa Bonita Bungalows: Av. La Esmeralda s/n Cercado, (073) 969 525 713, Nextel: 811 0709.
Eats in Colán
San Felipe Restaurant: Av. Costanera s/n La Esmeralda, (073) 674 402, 96 895 5225.
Restaurant La Macaria: Av. Costanera s/n La Esmeralda.
Pizzeria El Gauchito: Av. Costanera s/n La Esmeralda.
The Horizon Expands
"Dress decently," reads a sign upon entering the San Lucas de Colán church. Minimum requirement that any visitor, whatever their religion, must meet to enter the first consecrated temple by Spanish missionaries in the southern Pacific coast, as indicated by a plaque placed next to one of its side doors.
The facility was built in the mid-sixteenth century over a Chimu shrine. It is made our of marine “calca” (stone composed of shells) and thatched roof. Inside, it preserves a carved wooden altar with gold leaf details and religious statues of the Virgin of Mercy, St. Luke, among others. Consider that the Church is right at the entrance of the town and is open on Thursdays (8 p.m.), Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.). In any case, approach the tourist office in the municipality for more information.
To continue the path we recommend climbing the same route of the Colán detour to the viewpoint. You’ll see a wooden cross that, according to Ruiz, was laid 200 years ago. However, the most impressive thing is the beautiful panoramic view that the town offers. Go during sunset, you will take some postcard-worthy pictures.
At the Hotel
If you are someone who prefers to get the most out of Colán’s beach plan, you should be aware that some lodges have services that allow you to stay active and entertained. The Sunset Bay Hotel, for example, offers short horseback rides along the coast, Kayaks and four-wheelers.
But for those who like action, the compound of Playa Colán Lodge has a beach volleyball court and handball court. Usually, the accommodations also have a play area with mini-soccer and table tennis to distract you and let you have a good time.
It is worth mentioning that in high season the Colán Club opens, although this is exclusive for members and their guests.
At the end of the day, while watching the sunset, stunned by the landscape and absorbed by the relaxation, do not be surprised if someone comes and says "you’re under the Colán sun.”
Translated from Spanish by Diana Schwalb