About 6km southeast of Mejía along an unbroken line of beaches, this 690-hectare sanctuary protects coastal lagoons that are the largest permanent lakes in 1500km of desert coastline. They attract more than 200 species of coastal and migratory birds, best seen in the very early morning.
The visitor center, which was under refurbishment when we visited and temporarily located in a shipping container, has maps of hiking trails leading through the dunes to miradors (lookouts). From Mollendo, colectivos (shared transportation) pass by the visitor center (S3, 30 minutes) frequently during the daytime. Ask the staff to help you flag down onward transportation, which peters out by the late afternoon.