Published: July 2nd 2008June 29th 2008
The flight from Buenos Aires to Lima went well and we were particularly impressed with the drinks trolley coming round 3 times in a 4 hour flight.. you don´t get that on BA! We only stayed one night in Lima for a number of reasons... a) it´s expensive, b) we weren´t really after another big city experience, c) we hadn´t heard great reports on the city itself so we hot tailed it out of there the following afternoon bound for Ica.
Ica is quite a busy little town, well it looks busy but considering that 90% of the road traffic is mini taxis and tuk-tuk type taxis we think that this gives it the illusion of being busy when in actual fact it isn´t! The town itself is surrounded on all sides by huge sand dunes or mountains that disappear into the clouds, there is a lovely main plaza with fountains and a market selling everything you can imagine.
Dale decided to have his first market food experience here after seeing plates piled high with a meat, vegetable & rice dish. We sat on the stools lining up along the counter and the lady came to take his order,
Dale was still preparing his Spanish phrase to order what he wanted so asked her for ´uno momento por favor´ (one moment please). Ah she said and dashed off to the serving area, after a couple of minutes she came back and placed ´uno momento´ in front of him! Now how was he supposed to know that there was a dish with this name!! Dale then had to try to convey that this wasn´t actually what he wanted so frantically pointed at a photo of the meat & rice dish which seemed to do the trick and the uno momento dish was taken away. After a few more minutes she did come back with the correct dish which looked fabulous and all for under £1! This was our first experience of our Spanish going really wrong!
Sophie had read about the Museo Regional de Ica in the town which displayed a collection of Inca artifacts so we ventured there in the afternoon. Strangely you had to pay additional money to take photos in this museum but we decided that we might want to so handed over the 80p! The museum was really good with lots of weavings and pottery
This scary photo is especially for Cherise! It´s like being in a real horror movie!
that had been excavated over the years, sadly some of the larger weavings had been stolen so we could only see life size photos of these. The best bit of the museum was left until last though.... in another room which was in darkness when you arrived (they turn the lights on for you when you go in) was a collection of mummies that had also been recovered. These were fantastic and a real highlight for Sophie! There were a few whole mummies (see the photo!) which have been perfectly preserved because of the dry climate and also trophy heads complete with cactus spines through the lips, deformed heads and hair wigs! A great museum and well worth the 80p we´d paid to take some photos so we could share this with you all at home!
We´d seen Huacachina on many blogs and it looked like a dream so we had planned to visit it when we were organising places to see whilst still in the UK. It´s an oasis in the middle of a desert and looks like something from the movies. It´s only a 5 minute taxi ride from Ica so we went there on Saturday
morning to have our first experience of desert life.
The sand dunes surround the oasis completely so you only have to step outside the hostel door to be greeted with one. Immediately we decided to make our way to the top of one to check out the view. Now let us just try to explain to you how difficult it is to climb sand dunes that are this big... with every step you take up there you slide back down half way so progress is very slow and that combined with the heat soon makes you realise that you won´t be doing this very often! The view from the top of any of the dunes is amazing and something we both thought we would never see in our lifetime, literally all around you can just see sand and it made us appreciate how difficult life must be in the desert.
We had booked ourselves onto a dune buggy ride that evening so spent the rest of the afternoon appreciating the landscape until it was time to go. The buggies are excellent fun but also a little scary as they go so fast and you always feel like they
are going to tip up and roll down the dune, particularly when they try their best to scare the s**t out of you. Combined with the buggying is the chance to do sandboarding which is also great fun. They drove us to the first dune where it´s a set of 3 that you can go down. Sophie elected herself photogragher and Dale tried his best to get the hang of it.. which was quite slow progress!
When you have gone down the first 3 dunes they drive you to another 3 but these are MASSIVE, as you go over one which is huge you reach the top of the next which is bigger still then they save the biggest one for last! They say that the biggest one is about 200m which doesn´t sound too impressive but they really are awesome when you are standing at the bottom.
Our second day was a little more relaxed as Dale hired a sand board to continue to practice his boarding skills. By the end of the day he had mastered the art of standing up which can be witnessed on the video for proof! Sophie also decided to have a
Lots of little tuk-tuks!
go at going head first which was brilliant but the only trouble is that when you get to the bottom there are no stair lifts to get you back up so you can only do it so many times before you are too exhausted to continue! The other thing is that you don´t realise how much sand you have collected in your clothes until you get back to the hostel and empty out pockets, hems and pants full of the stuff!
For our final evening we decided to climb up the highest dune that backs onto to the town to watch the sunset. The climb was slow progress with many rest stops on the way but the view from the top made it worthwhile. We even found there was another town hiding on the other side! We waited at the top for sunset with the wind blowing sand into every part of us.. ears, nose, eyes and also hadn´t taken into account the temperature drop so froze as the sun went down but the sunset was beautiful and we hope the photos shows this. The best bit about getting to the top of the biggest dune is getting back
down again.. you run down and it takes you all of about 30 seconds to reach the bottom... great fun!
We did love Huacachina but the sand grates on you after a while (get it!) so we decided to leave there for Nazca.. which has the worlds highest sand dune and also some lines you may have heard of...
There are more photos below