Santuario Nacional Lagunas de Mejía

South Coast

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby South Coast attractions

1. El Castillo de Forga

12.18 MILES

El Castillo de Forga was built in 1908 on a crag between two of the beaches just south of the city center by a rich arequipeño (inhabitant of Arequipa) in…

2. Aquatic Park

12.56 MILES

When temperatures are searing from January through to at least March, the beachside aquatic park opens alongside the sea.