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Caballito de Totora

Reed watercraft

Caballito de totora in Huanchaco

The caballito de totora is a bundle of reeds used for fishing and surfing for at least the past 3,500 years.

It’s built with totora reeds that grow along the coast and was traditionally tied together with rope made from llama fur, which coastal people got from mountain people through trade. The traditional bamboo pole that’s used as a paddle was obtained from jungle cultures, also through trade.

Surfing on caballito de totora

Today the caballito de totora is still made with reeds and the paddle is still a bamboo pole, though the llama fur ropes have been replaced by nylon cord.

All fishers in Huanchaco use the caballito de totora with the traditional bamboo pole. They say that wooden boats couldn’t get them up and over the waves to leave the beach and wouldn’t let them surf back to the beach after fishing. Plus, they’re very attached to their heritage and culture.

Heather Jasper on a caballito de totora, Huanchaco

There is always somebody on the beach with a caballito de totora to offer tourists a ride. It costs between s/20-s/30, depending on how long you are on the caballito.

Read my blog about the caballito de totora to learn more.

Beaches & Surfing



Historic city & world class surfing

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper