Our first few days in Peru were a bit of a mad panic trying to fit in as much as possible (this was due to an inconveniently placed inca trail booking about 10 days before our flight home). We decided we had to bypass Cusco (to be explored at a later date) and head north as quickly as possible to try to fit in some trekking in the Cordillera Blanca and a cheeky trip to The Amazon. This meant in 4 days we managed to visit Arequipa, Nasca, Huacachina and make it up to Huaraz to find a trekking company (pretty efficient if you ask me).
|Santa Catalina, Arequipa, a small town hidden in the city|
From Puno we jumped on a bus to Arequipa (a relatively short 5 hours). After arriving pretty late in the evening we went straight out to dinner at one of the relatively touristy restaurants around the main square (up on a nice balcony) with Holly another Brit staying at our hostel. The next day after managing to book a night bus to Nasca we set about exploring the city which was lovely, the big main square has beautiful architecture and the city is overlooked by three huge volcanos which add a certain drama to the whole place. The main highlight of the day was the Santa Catalina Monastery which was like an enclosed town within the city. It was filled with bright colours and little houses the nuns used to live in with no contact with the outside world. The place was beautiful and peaceful. That evening after saying goodbye to Holly we hopped on a night bus to Nasca still undecided on whether to fly over the famous lines...
|The beautiful colours of Santa Catalina|
|Wall painting at Santa Catalina|
|Flower pots and Blue walls, at Santa Catalina|
After a relatively uncomfortable night on the bus, we arrived in Nasca bright and early leaving the bus to be welcomed by a barrage of taxi drivers and tour agency operators. After finally deciding to risk life and limb to see the famous lines (well sort of... if you don't believe me see the horror stories on plane crashes in the area) we tried to head straight to the airport to find a company to take us. Unfortunately our first attempt was scuppered by a taxi driver who seemed to think 'airport' meant 'hotel'/ 'tour agency'... But after some help from the lovely receptionist and door man at the very posh looking Casa Andina hotel we finally made it and within 15 minutes we were on board a tiny four man plane (two pilots) ready to take off!! Don't worry though the photographer had done his research and the company we chose (Areoparacas) was supposed to be one of the best. The flight itself was really good and not bumpy at all, the lines seemed smaller than I was expecting, but were really awesome and definitely best seen from the air!! Our pilots were great too, they were really sweet and asked if we wanted to try some 'zero gravity' bumps which made me scream so much the whole plane was laughing!! After our fun half hour adventure we headed straight back to the bus station to catch a bus to Ica and head on to Huacachina.
|The Nasca Lines, the hummingbird|
|One of us was a little scared before take off....|
|Pre-flight photo a bit scared and looking worse for wear afterour night on the bus|
Huacachina is a tiny town based around a small lake oasis surrounded by sanddunes literally 5 minutes from Ica. The place was so idyllic it looked fake, combined with all the tourist attractions and hotels it did feel a little tacky to be honest... Still climbing the huge sandunes at sunset was amazing (apart from the effort involved), we were able to see the oasis, Ica and sand stretching for miles around. The main attraction of Huacachina for many backpackers is the chance to go out in a dune buggy or go sand boarding, which I imagines is fun as the dunes are HUGE!! However, I have to admit we didn't try either of these... Instead we spent our time relaxing by our hotel pool (finally some hot weather) and rented a little boat so we could mess around on the lake! After 1 night in a proper bed it was time to move again, a quick 5 hour dash to Lima and then yet another a night bus to Huaraz for our next adventure!!
|Sunset on the sand|
|A little oasis|
Location: Arequipa, Nasca and Huacachina
Highlights: The Nasca Lines and Santa Catalina (also relaxing by the pool in Huacachina)
Top tips: Dont be scared to fly, the Nasca lines look awesome from above (we saw the viewing platform from the air and it looked a bit rubbish), if you want to avoid turbulance try to fly as early as possible!!! Also Nasca itslef didint look like a great town so if possible dont stay too long!!
Bus journeys: 4 buses in 4 days, and two nights sleeping on the move!!
Profile pictures: At least 1
|Huacachina from above after our tiring sand dune climb|
|Row, row row your boat gently round the lake|