2 nights and 2 days in Nazca (a good length of time to spend there). The town is famous for Nazca lines, ancient mystical giant figures in the ground. They were made about 1500 years ago, by removing rocks and exposing grayish sand underneath.
Click for photos, or read on!
Our first night we arrived after dark and walked the 5 or so blocks to our hostel – Brabant. We were saying in a newly refurbished part of the hostel across the rd from the main part, and our private room was pretty decent. Around $10 USD each per night, including private bathroom. No window to the outside but that seems to happen sometimes… Friendly and helpful staff, and it was a street away from the main drag with a bunch of restaurants.
Day 1 we walked around town a bit, then booked a Sand dune buggy tour for the afternoon. The tour took 7 of us plus the driver in a crazy shell of a dune buggy, it stated off with some archeological sites including an aqueduct, old temple site, burial site which has been and continues to be desecrated by local grave robbers. Moments after standing around the 500ish year old curled up skeleton young child, the driver/guide announced “and now we go sandboarding!”. An odd juxtaposition…
The desert scenery was amazing. The sand dunes are massive and stunning. We did indeed go sandboarding and I happened to have my iPhone int he back (middle) pocket of my exercise pants. This happens to be right above the tailbone. I happened to fall on my tailbone on the hard packed sand and cause some serious bruising which I can still feel at the time of writing this, about 6 weeks later. OW! After that I ditched standing up on the board, preferring the head first on stomach method. Much less skill involved and a massive thrill! See a video of me sandboarding here!
On the way to and from our sandboarding stop, the driver took us on an exhilarating, stomach twisting ride in the buggy, zooming over the tops of dune peaks, buzzing down the steep sides at crazy speeds. Awesome! We watched the sun set, colours start to change, and then drove back to town. The ride back to town was cold as the temperature drops so much once the sun goes. But we made it, and returned to the hostel dusty and sore and grinning.
The next day we visited the Nazca lines the cheap way – you can take a flight for $160+ USD, or you can take a bus for 30mins out of town (3 soles each way) and hop off at the ‘mirador’ (lookout). The mirador is a disappointingly un-grand metal structure on the side of the Pan-American highway. You pay 2 soles to climb about 2 stories up, and then there’s a decent view of 2 of the famous figures – the hands and the tree. The landscape is fantastically barren and the lines are pretty mindblowing in their scale and age.
Once you have taken all the permutations of photos you can think of, you descend and stand around waiting for a bus back to town. There are maybe 3 an hour. There are a couple of souvenir sellers selling rocks with carvings replicating the Nazca lines. Not very good, interesting or practical as far as souvenirs go. It’s a pretty folorn little road-side stop, but it is worth the visit if you don’t want to fork out for the flight (which most people feel ill on!). All up, our little Nazca Lines adventure cost us 7 soles each, less than $3 AUD.
That night we took the night bus to Cusco. The fanciest bus yet – the company was Oltursa. Pillows and blankets provided. The road gets pretty darn windy on the way up to Cusco, which resulted in my glamorous spewing episode during the night (most of it into a plastic bag, yay!). In the morning, a couple of hours out of Cusco there was a total road block due to a rockfall. We got out of the bus for about 20mins. The delay was a bit annoying as we just wanted to arrive, but it was good to get some fresh air. The road was eventually cleared and we were on our way again. We finally arrived in Cusco after about 15 hours.