Published: July 7th 2008July 3rd 2008
Nazca is famous for one thing.. the Nazca Lines. These are strange lines that have been etched into the ground and were thought to be an astrological calender but there is still no real explaination of what they are for. Whilst in Nazca though Dale has found out that it should actually be more famous for another thing.. Cerro Blanco.. the worlds highest sand dune (or South America´s depending on what guide you read!)
We´d decided against the traditional flight over the lines because we had seen many photos and blogs which said you could not really see them very well and this, combined with the thought of going in a propellor plane with pilots who had fantasies of being in the red devils and who´s main aim was to try their hardest to make you feel sick kind of put us off! Instead of the flight we visited the Mirador which is a very tall tower alongside the road from where you can see 2 of the main lines.. the hands and the tree. Now we know these lines are world famous, but they were very difficult to see with the naked eye. We had images in our head
of HUGE lines carved deeply into the ground but the ones we saw were not that big and are only faintly marked in the ground so we aren´t quite sure how they have lasted so long! We think the real attraction of these lines is the sheer mystery that surounds them. We would have liked to see our favourite lines.. the astronaught for Sophie and the Condor for Dale but the flight was involved to see these so we made do with the 100´s of intepretations around the town!
The afternoon was spent exploring some Inca ruins which are on the outskirts of the town. Unfortunately they are not very well maintained but we enjoyed walking around them trying to imagine what each 'room' might have been used for all those years ago.
After Dale´s experiences with the sandboarding in Huacachina he was keen to conquer Cerro Blanco (the big one) on a board so booked himself into a trip for the following day. Some trips we enquired about left at 4am so he was pleased to find one that didn´t involed such an ungodly hour and started at a much more sociable 11am.
The following morning
Dale headed off and Sophie stayed in the town because she´d decided against the 4 hour trek up there! Now lets first explain how big Cerro Blanco is... it stands at 2,075m above sea level. When compared to the biggest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, which is only 1,475m this makes it one big sand dune!
Dale met his guide Omar who was a great guy and spoke a small bit of English which helped as he was the only English person on the trek. They all set off in Omar´s car but unfortunately 10 minutes down the road the car had a puncture so they spent the first 45 minutes of the trip in a back street garage! Finally the punture was repaired and off they went to Cerro Blacno which was a 1/2 hours drive up the Pan American Highway.
Omar explained that it was going to take 4 hours to get to the top but thankfully not all of this would be on sand as there was a nearby mountain which skirted next to Cerro Blanco which they would trek up. This mountain took them up to 1,800m which was a steady and gradual
climb. On the way up they saw many cacti and Omar explained that the fruit of them were similar to kiwi so they all had a sample. After a few well earned water stops they were onto the sand and had the summit in sight, it didn´t look that far but they were told that they still had an hour and a halfs trek ahead of them on the sand. At this point the views were simply amazing and it felt quite surreal that they were on a sand dune higher than all the mountains surrounding them.
Once at the summit they were all speechless and it was great weather to appreciate the views of the landscape around them. After a spot of lunch it was time to come back down again by sandboard! Omar went through a few manouvers on how to stop which is always handy when going down the biggest sand dune in the world! He explained that there would be 3 drops.. the first one was to practice on.. the second was 400m and the final drop was a scary 1,000m descent straight down.. this had been playing on Dale´s mind all the way up
Now after Huacachina Dale considered himself still very much a beginner but he was confident going down the first two drops and managed to stop when necessary. When the final drop approached the whole group looked at each other quite nervously because you could not see the bottom it was that big! Dale opted to go first so he neared the edge with caution and Omar was ready with the camera to catch that all important shot. The descent went very well and when he stopped at the 1/2 way point the sun was setting and Dale was 1/2 way down the biggest sand dune in the world with no one around him and it was a truly amazing feeling that he didn´t want to end.
After a final waxing of the board he finished the final 500m standing up which he was very pround to achieve. While he was waiting for the others to descend the sun was nearly down which meant an hour and a halfs walk back to the car in pitch black! He was thankful to see the beaming headlights of Omar´s brothe's car waiting to take them back to town.
in all this was something Dale will never forget.
Our final day in Nazca was spent killing time because we´d exhausted all that there was to do and our bus was not until 11.30pm. It´s amazing how many hours you can kill wandering aimlessly around a town! So onto Cuzco (Gringo City) now for our next adventure....
There are more photos below