All about the Mejía lagoons in Mollendo
Mejía lagoons is a tourist attraction that belongs to the National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía. It is a natural environment with a great diversity of birds, plants and animals. Due to its proximity to the Pacific coast, there are many marine species such as gulls, ospreys and even Humboldt penguins. Migratory birds such as the Franklin gull from the northern United States and Canada also arrive in the area. The whole complex covers an area of 690 hectares. Tourists can observe local fauna in their natural habitat. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Mollendo.
Where is it?
Mejía lagoons are located southwest of the city of Arequipa, about 140 kilometers away by road. It belongs to the districts of Mejía and Dean Valdivia in the province of Islay, just a few kilometers from the Mollendo spa.
How to get there?
To visit Mejía lagoons, most people leave from the city of Arequipa. You just have to follow the road heading west towards the city of Mollendo. This section by car takes approximately 2 hours. Once there, you must take a bus, which in 20 minutes will arrive at Mejía lagoons. Another option is to go on a tour, which already includes the round trip transportation service.
In addition to the National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía, Arequipa also has the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, which has an area of more than 366,000 hectares. This territory is home to a great diversity of high Andean flora and fauna, such as the Andean condor, the vizcacha, vicuñas and more. The mountains, snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, lagoons and rivers are characteristic of this tourist attraction.
National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía
National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía is a natural area protected by the Peruvian State. It was created in 1983 in order to preserve the natural environment as well as the biodiversity of birds, animals and plants that survive there, some of which are in danger of extinction. It has an area of approximately 690 hectares. Due to its proximity to the popular resort of Mollendo, it receives hundreds of visitors from Arequipa and the rest of Peru.
The sanctuary owes its name to the proximity to the spa of Mejía, belonging to the province of Islay. There, seven ecosystems have been registered, made up of the Tambo river, the riparian mountains, the lagoons, swamps, totorales, grasslands and beaches. The site is home to various species of animals, plants but especially birds, such as: seagulls, ducks, herons, parihuanas and more. Many species of birds are migratory, which is why they only arrive at Mejía lagoons at a certain time of the year.
Flora and fauna
The dominant flora in Mejía lagoons is the cattail and various types of grass. Likewise, under the lagoons you can see the type of algae of the genus 'Chara'.
The characteristic fauna are birds. Up to 210 species of birds have been recorded, some are migratory since they only live there at certain times of the year. Of these, 17 species arrive from other regions of Peru, 34 come from North America and 4 from different regions of South America. Some of the most representative birds are: the Franklin's gull (USA), the white sandpiper, the gray gull, the skimmer, the Dominican gull, the Peruvian gull, the plum diver, the cuca heron, the parihuana and many more.
In addition to birds, in the reserve it is possible to see different types of toads and fish such as silverside or mullet. Likewise, the presence of lizards and the Andean fox, coming from the high mountains, are recurrent.
The Mejía lagoon
The Mejía lagoon is the perfect place for bird watching. There are viewpoints specially designed for tourists. From there you can see some striking species such as seagulls, parihuanas, herons and more.
In addition to the Mejía lagoon, visitors can observe the species of flora and fauna that inhabit the Tambo river, the viewpoint of the beaches as well as the tour of the Site Museum of the National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía
The Mollendo spa
Near the Mejía lagoon is the famous Mollendo spa, one of the busiest in southern Peru. Many people come there to enjoy the waves of the sea. Likewise, in Mollendo it is possible to enjoy the delicious local cuisine, with dishes such as: ceviche, fried fish as well as the seafood pan, a typical dish of the city. If you are visiting Mejía lagoons on your own, an excellent option is to make a stop at this famous spa.
The Mejía lagoon has a moderate hot climate with little seasonal rains. The average temperature can reach 20ºC. while the minimum temperature can drop to 16ºC.
Price of the visit
The 1-day tours to the Mejía lagoon have an approximate cost of 180 Peruvian soles per person (60 US dollars, approximately). All these services include: complete transportation, entrance to the National Santuary Lagoons of Mejía as well as visits to other sites during the tour.
If you decide to go on your own, you must pay the entrance to the sanctuary, which has a cost of 15 Peruvian soles (5 US dollars approximately).
Climate change is causing some negative effects in the Mejía lagoon, such as the deterioration of vegetation at the edge of the lagoons, as well as evaporation and water shortages.
From the city of Lima (capital of Peru) by the South Panamerican highway you arrive at Mollendo after 14 hours of travel. Lima has the only international airport in the country. The flight to the city of Arequipa takes approximately 1 hour.
Take advantage of your visit to Mollendo to enjoy the delicious Peruvian marine gastronomy. Try the ceviche, the most recognized dish of Peru worldwide.
During your visit to Mollendo, take the opportunity to visit the colonial house '1911' which, according to the locals, is haunted. It is located in one of the vertices of the town's main square. A few steps away is the sea where you can see the Forga castle, a historical monument of Peru.