Thursday, 3 November 2016

Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina & Paracas – Days 46 to 50

Have a look at our 'Flight over the Nazca Lines' Youtube video:
The 'Humming Bird' at the Nazca Lines
Packing was hard, and leaving was hard, both not least as I was feeling bad again. I looked at lunch and that was as far as it went! More magic pink stuff from Maribel and fingers crossed. We finally left and both found it quite emotional, lots of hugs from everyone, all seemingly very genuine and off we walked, the Peruhop bus stop was that close. Our hope of a bus to ourselves was quickly dashed, 20 to Arequipa (that's why it took longer than the other buses, not the most direct route, and actually more expensive if we'd wanted to get off!) but we managed to all get a pair of seats to ourselves so could have been worse. 
A drawing of the Nazca Lines layout
Actually slept quite well having watched Forest Gump, woken at 05.00 in Arequipa to drop off and collect and for some snacks and back to sleep. Stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant, though I had ordered and then cancelled lunch and off again. Next stop Nazca, not a popular stop, but it made sense to us. Collected by our Hostal from the drop off point we were pleasantly surprised, a bit out of the way, and window opening into an internal shaft, but comfy bed, big room and what turned out to be a better than average breakfast, for £14. 

Being called onto the plane in weight order
After five weeks in Cusco of all seasons in one day, and no consecutive days being the same, so being wrong however you dressed, but always cold at night it was very strange to be at sea level and in the desert, so quite warm, until nightfall! Nipped back for a few more clothes and back out for dinner, something simple, from a very nice man we'd encountered on the main drag, breaded chicken, chips and salad. Freshly prepared, as everything, including all the juices, are, I could hear him pounding it in the kitchen!

Ready to go!
It was Halloween which is obviously quite a big thing here, when we left Cusco half the extended family were in at Maribel's, cutting things out and sticking and making for the party the following night (should we have stayed?) and here in Nazca the streets were full of kids in fancy dress, of all sorts, many Disney princesses with blonde wigs, superheroes, the lot going between shops and restaurants picking up sweets, made for a lovely atmosphere.

The plane banking steeply to show us some of the Lines
Up for a good breakfast, whole family involved from grandma down, before our flight over the lines. All very well organised, six of us, all weighed, put on a plane for a half hour flight. I liked the lines, Brian was slightly underwhelmed as they weren't as big or deep as he'd been expecting, but to me that made them more amazing really, how are some lines, cleared of stones, in a windy desert still there? The flight however, OMG to be fair all shapes had to be seen out of both sides so there was lots of banking and steep turns, roller coaster but worse, I think we all felt rough, but it was too much for the breakfast of the Kiwi girl sitting next to me. She is obviously of a fairly delicate disposition anyway as they make for the front of any bus so must have felt really miserable.

The alien picture
Got back to the hostal later than expected, so packed and checked out late, but not a problem and were recommended a restaurant just over the road, our first taste of, the very popular, ceviche, raw fish cooked in lemon/lime juice and fried fish, we shared a meal for one and it was huge. 

The main Pan America highway cutting through some of the Lines. The small black dot just left of centre is the viewing tower. Below it are the hands, left is the tree and, cut in half by the road is the lizard

Safely back down but feeling a bit queasy
Dropped back off at the pick up point, six of us, us, the Kiwi couple and an older Canadian couple who had stayed the same place as us, waited for the bus to arrive with our new 'conductor'. Next stop a viewing platform to look down on three of the lines we had seen from the air, actually made it even more amazing to me that they are still there, and on to Huacachina, an oasis in the desert surrounded by sand dunes. Fortunately we had picked the quieter option, along with the Kiwi's, the Canadian's were unfortunately lured to the noisier option by the pool. None of us went for the all you can eat BBQ, in fact we all ended up eating at our place. We had just about finished eating when Phil and Donna showed up but they sat with us and we had a lovely chat.

Photo by the plane. The smoke is not coming from the plane its a fire in a field beyond
The viewing tower
Not a bad nights sleep and a standard breakfast and we thought we'd better go up a dune to look at the oasis, stupidly not considering how hot the sand would be! Even at 10.00am it was very hot in your sandals! We watched a few people sand boarding, like snow boarding but without the snow which we has decided not to do, as we are skiers after all. B's bottom lip may have wobbled a bit when we walked through town and he found the ski's for hire! Timings weren't going to work out though for their tour, fortunately as far as I'm concerned, sand is stickier than snow so to get any sort of speed you have to go very steep! I could just see an accident waiting to happen. So we've consoled ourselves with the free pisco vineyard tour, where they sadly had no Pisco Sour available for tasting, just three very sweet wines and a pisco cream, which was very nice. 

Our bus. Up and to the left is half of the lizard
So just waiting for the buggy and boarding trip to be over and we'll continue our trip for the next two hour drive to Paracas. Hope Donna is well enough to continue as she has been bad all day.

She was and we went. Arrived at what looks like a posh hotel, or at least it will be when it's finished. Our room looks lovely till you walk the other side of the pool and discover we are still being built on! 

The hands as seen from the viewing tower
We went out for the Peruhop meal last night against my better judgement, though actually we had a nice time, six from our bus and our guide and no one from the Lima bus coming in the other direction, so a younger Australian couple and a couple of women from the US, of our sort of age. I say from the US, but one of them is Peruvian but has only been here twice in the last 50 years and the other is Polish! Pizza, beer and complementary cocktails! Can't be bad

The tree and, above it the tail of the lizard
Up bright and eat this morning for our trip to 'The poor man's Galapagos' the Ballestas Islands. A two hour boat trip to see sea lions, penguins, pelicans, a turkey vulture, and Inka terns amongst umpteen other sorts of bird. A very knowledgeable guide told us all sorts of things including that the going rate for guano is $350 a ton! I was the only one to see the pod of dolphins that went past as he was explaining about the candelabra, another unexplained ancient symbol in the sand. A picture speaks a thousand words and there will probably be a thousand pictures!

This is what you can see at ground level. Not much!
A light lunch of fresh calamari and a beer joined by a white mummy cat. Shame the kitten didn't appear till we'd finished, but the ladies from last night appeared about then, the Peruvian with her left over chicken in a napkin, it's not just me then, so happy kitten! Sitting by one of the pools, not the one our room opens onto, think we'll give that one a miss as a lump of plaster has just fallen in from the building upstairs!
Huacachina, an oasis in the desert. At least it was, it's a bit of a party place now, the main activity is dune buggy riding and sand boarding - very similar to snow boarding apparently. We spoke to one keen guy who ran a tour and ski and board hire shop who snowboards in Europe and Chile and, when there's no snow he boards here! He says its very similar to snow but gets very sticky when it's hot, so they go out early morning or late afternoon when its cooler and more slippy.
The quiet outdoor bar at our pleasant hostal, the Casa de Bamboo in Huacachina
A bonus for Jackie in the Casa de Bamboo!
Jackie goes for a walk in the desert. Come back, you'll get lost. It goes on for miles and miles!
The oasis at water level. Apparently they do keep it topped up with water now to stop it drying out too much
Here's the shop hiring our snowboards, skis and boots. When I saw the skis I was really tempted to have a go, but the timing was too late for our bus out
Our Pisco winery tour
This is an outdoor distillation vat. In fermenting season it's filled with cold water, the distilled wine enters in the pipe from the left, condenses in the coil and exits right as distilled wine
Sampling the wines and getting the sales talk from the very entertaining guide
Now in Paracas we're donning life jackets with Donna and Phil for our trip out to the Ballestas Islands trip
Time for a selfie
And another one with Donna and Phil
Now here's a strange thing on the Paracas peninsular. It's called a candelabra, but it's so dry here (virtually zero rainfall) that no organic material has been found by archaeologists so they can't date how old it is. Noone knows what it is, when it was made or what it was for. It possibly points in the direction of the Nazca Lines!
The Ballestas Islands coming into view
The big arch on the main island, there are many caves and arches of varying sizes
A group of penguins, only here near the equator because of cool pacific currents from Antarctica
Sea lions on the rocks. No seals here, they are all sea lions. Apparently sea lions have ears and flippers up to a third of their body length
More arches and caves
There were flocks and flocks of birds
There's a crab hiding in the rock crack
This fishing boat has an air compressor on board and is feeding air down to divers who are collecting shellfish off the sea bed. The sea is an average 12m deep all around the islands (bet the diving is fabulous!)
Huge numbers of sea birds just on one side of the hill. Something to do with sea and air currents
Looking out to the wild Pacific
Jackie enjoying the lazy sea lions
This sea lion was trying to get out of a fairly turbulent sea onto those rocks
These guys were pretty chilled out!

Sea birds diving for fish
Back on land these pelicans are big and can look a bit intimidating
Particularly when the gang up!
Dogs snoozing under the shade of a palm tree

Mummy and baby cat come for dinner!
Bit out of order this photo, this is a view of the desert on the way to Nazca. Not sure what these enclosures are, possibly mining claims
Another out of order photo. This is the Plaza de Armas in Nazca. It was packed full of parents and kids in Halloween fancy dress on Monday night, the 31st October

1 comment:

  1. Fab pictures. Loved the poor mans Galapagos ones! Hope you are both feeling a lot better now down to sea level? Xx