Published: July 30th 2012July 29th 2012 Day 285 Sunday 22nd July
Close up of the Hummingbird
After a slight confusion because our names were not on the breakfast list, we enjoyed are last morning in Hauachina before packing. We left the hotel at 10.15am to go to the bus terminal we arrived way too early but that was OK and we checked our bags in and just read while we waited for our 11.30am bus to Nazca. At 11.30am a bus to Arequipa was announced and the people asked to board and we thought maybe it was ours, but were told no about another 5 minutes. Well our bus arrived at 12.00 and we were on the road soon after, this delay was a precursor to our stay in Nazca. The bus trip is only short and we arrived in Nazca about 2.00pm and walked the couple of blocks to our hotel – Hospedaje Anccalla Inn. The room is good value for $AUD35.00 and has good hot water; always a bonus. The only downside was as we booked in a guy in the foyer started talking to us and we are unsure if he was part owner of the hotel or just a tour guide from one of the many tour
companies around town. We enquired about a flight over the lines and he went on a bit of a rave about how there is no use in trying to book them here as they all seats are taken up by people coming from Lima and the only way to see the lines is from the ground on an organised tour like of course the one he arranges. He also warned us that all the booking agents in the town who sell tickets for flights are liars and not to be trusted. It was great advice but he was also heavily trying to push us onto what we later discovered was an overpriced ground tour, so we sort of thanked him for his words but declined his tour. We had read that it was hard to get flights here but we here in Nazca Peru so you just have to give it a shot.
We headed straight out to arrange a flight over the Nazca Lines, the first office Alegria Tours the man seemed so disinterested in trying to help us, but after asking questions were told we could get on today, but we said we would think about it.
On first appearances this agency seemed OK because you do not pay upfront only once you get the flight, the only time he got enthusiastic was when he talked about the land tours out to the lookout tower to see the lines. We had a late lunch to discuss if I (Shelley) really could get into a small plane with claustrophobia and which banks left and right so you can see the lines so add motion sickness to my worries. After the discussion I decided we are here we should do it, so we checked out another company which seemed slightly more enthusiastic but you have to pay upfront and they will refund the money if the flight does not happen due to bad weather. We decided on the first company due to the no money upfront and were told we would be picked up at 7.00am in the morning. We asked would they ring us if it is fogged it and delayed and he said yes.
With all this sorted we walked around the town which to be honest is very small and not much to see unless you get a tour outside to some of the sites.
Us in the plane
In the late afternoon whilst back in our room we got served a complimentary tray of tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits. The staff at the Hospedaje Anccalla Inn where we are staying, are so lovely, especially the owner Angela who seems to be going all out to ensure you are happy. For dinner we headed out for a couple of circuits of the town trying to decide where to eat. There are some new flash restaurants around but also a lot of local eateries. We ended up at one that sort of looked somewhere in between, and was a large glorified chicken shop. We both ended up with a great feed of chicken and salad before returning to our room. Nazca is actually fairly cold at night and probably around 15-19 degrees, which means that it is freezing for poor Shelley. Thankfully our room which doesn’t have a heater is reasonably warm and cosy. Day 286 Monday 23rd July
Up at 6.00am to make sure we are already for 7.00am but knowing it would not be this early due to the fog covering the city. This time of year there is bad weather and the flights
Looking down the wing at the lines
are usually delayed so we were waiting for the call at 7.00am to let us know how long the delay may be. We waited and waited and eventually at 9.00am we got a call saying it was till fogged in and they would call back in an hour. So the time was spent reading and waiting hoping the weather would clear up. At 11.30am we got another call saying the flights still had not started and he would ring back in an hour. This man needs to get a new watch because he can’t tell when 7.00am or 10.00am is so we were now worried it was not going to happen at all. Well there was no phone call at 12.30pm and eventually at 1.30pm someone from the company came to the hotel to tell we could not get on as the people from Lima were given first preference, but would we like to do a land tour to the lookout. He actually told us that he had the last flight of the day booked for us but someone from Lima turned up and he had to give our seats to them. I am unsure if this story is true
Close up of some of the lines
and/or it was supposed to make us feel better about being bumped. He did not even offer the option of a flight tomorrow so we adamantly said no the other tour.
Dilemma, do we draw a line in the sand and call it quits or try the other company, well we are here so we walked around to the other company Condor Nazca Tours. The guy offered a flight this afternoon at 4.00pm so we said yes knowing too well it wouldn’t happen but we may get it tomorrow and so we paid our money. He said he would ring us at 4, “Oh isn’t that when the flight is, shouldn’t we be here earlier”. Well he squirmed a bit and then said maybe the flight would be at 5, so we told him rather than him ringing us at the hotel at 4 we would come to the office at 4. We tread water and about 3.30pm we were back at his office to be told sorry the flight would not be happening this afternoon but it is OK for tomorrow, they will ring at 9.00am. There is a pattern occurring here, we have found out they all
say do you want a flight this afternoon even when they know it is not possible even if they deal with different airlines. We are now getting very worried it is not going to happen at all and the only way to get on is to do it from Lima at a far greater cost.
We hung around the hotel till 6.30pm and then went out to the Plaza Mayor Restaurant for dinner which is the same one as last night and serves great meals one bonus for the town. Day 287 Tuesday 24th July
Up and had breakfast to wait for our 9.00am call, the skies are clear today and a beautiful blue so we are hopeful. At 9.30am I went to reception and they rang the company for us and were told the flights had not started yet as the lines were still fogged in. As they are out of town and slightly lower we have heard it sometimes takes this area a bit longer to clear. He said he would ring back in an hour the people at these companies really should invest in good watches. At 12.00 we were fed
Us next to our sky chariot
up with waiting and so got Angela at the Hotel to ring him again as she said she knew him. We got the good news that we should head down to the tour agents, so we quickly grabbed all our stuff together and flew out the door. Half way there Shelley suddenly got this feeling that rather than being taken out to the airport he just wanted to see us in his office to give us our refund. Thankfully when we got there we got bundled straight in to a van that had 4 other people sitting in it as if they had been waiting all morning for us. We sort of guessed that if we hadn’t rang we would have been forgotten and missed our chance again. Made me wish that we had rang earlier and more constantly, with “the squeaky wheel getting the oil” adage applying heavily here. It took us about 15 minutes to get out to the airport where we were bundled into the small terminal and checked in with the company we were flying with. There looked like there were about 12 companies operating from the airport but not all of the offices were manned.
Us next to a trapezoid
In the waiting room were about 30 people and another 10 sitting in the departure lounge. Most of the planes only hold 4 passengers and as we sat we only really heard a take off about every 20-30 minutes so it seemed like we were in for a long wait.
While we waited busloads of tourists would arrive and get shuffled into the departure lounge ahead of us, and so we felt as if the whole thing was slipping away from us again. Unsure if some planes are very quiet in take off or they only use half the runway, but the people being pushed through seemed far greater than the take offs. Finally at 3 when we both had just about given up our names were called and we were ushered through into the departure lounge where we only had to wait another 15 minutes before we were called again and we were on the tarmac walking to our plane. Whilst we had been waiting we had seen that the majority of the planes looked fairly modern and had twin doors to access, which made Shelley happy as it would be better for her claustrophobia. As we walked
One of the open water channels of Nazca
along the line of planes checking out which one would be ours we were suddenly detoured to this tiny little Cessna that looked about 30 years old…..bloody typical. Luckily the other couple on our flight volunteered to take the back seats which were crammed in tight and Shelley just wouldn’t have coped with.
We were barely in the plane before we were taxing for take off and to my utter disbelief it was finally happening. Hadn’t flown in a small plane since I was a kid and Dad was at the controls and that instance was my first ever flight, since then all my flights have been confined to Boeings and Airbuses. Within a minute of being airborne we were hit with turbulence, nothing bad but enough to know that you are aloft on a wing and a pray. After only 5 minutes we were over the start of our scenic flight of the Nasca lines starting with the whale. We have two pilots, one flying the other pointing out the different patterns and hopefully both looking out for other aircraft. From the whale we got to see a further 12 patterns, including the trapezoids, the Astronaut, the monkey,
Shelley at the bottom of one of the windows
the dog, the hummingbird, the spider, the condor, Alcatraz, parrot, tree and the hands along with hundreds of lines. All the patterns were a lot smaller than I had expected but then that maybe because of the height we were flying at. With each pattern the pilot would do a long slow figure eight around it so that both sides of the plane could see, and this combined with the turbulence wasn’t a good mix. We had been forewarned that it can be a bit nauseating so we had both taken motion sickness tablets and I was glad I had. Within two minutes of take off the girl behind us went stiff as a board and hardly looked out the window for the whole time. I found it hard filming on the video camera, and I think concentrating on the small screen actually made it worse so I stopped looking through it fairly quickly and just pointed in the general direction. Shelley did real well considering but sometimes I think the excitement of the moment can overrule any other feelings. I had seen pictures and TV shows about these legendary lines all my life and so it was an incredible
Scott at the bottom of tone of the windows
feeling to actually now be flying over them and seeing them first hand, a real highlight of the trip and well worth all the hassle to get to do.
The downside to the whole thing is that it is all over in 35 minutes, and if it wasn’t for the cost and the slight nausea we would be running around to try and line up to do it again. The only other unfortunate thing about it, is that the patterns are really bloody hard to photograph. Nearly all the photos we took came out whitewashed, although the video turned out not to bad and I was able to capture some stills from that.
After landing we grabbed our certificates and then got a lift back to town with head buzzing with what we had just seen as well as with a touch of motion sickness. Once back in town we could now buy our bus tickets out of town for tomorrow night as well as look into booking a tour around some of the other sights in the area. Decided not to bother with the company we had got the flight through but went to another company up
One of the many windows
the road. Booked a tour for the morning and afternoon so at least we could keep active whilst waiting for our night bus. Went back to the hotel and thanked Angela for her help and then got ready for dinner. Because the food was so good at the Plaza Mayor restaurant we returned there once more for a feed. Day 288 Wednesday 25th July
Up early and packing to clear out. Once again we had breakfast in our room with Angela delivering a fantastic breakfast to our table right on 8am. Before checking out I spoke to her about if she could mind our bags for the day while we are out and she not only agreed to that but allowed us to keep the room right up to 8pm tonight for no extra cost. I cannot carry on enough about how great this hotel is, it’s not the Hilton but the staff make you really feel like you are friends staying over in their house, by far the friendliest, most helpful staff we have come across in all our travels.
We wandered up the road to the tour agents for our 9.30 pickup, and
Us in a window
of course we were early and then had to wait a while before things got organised. For some reason our car and guide were waiting at a hotel on the other side of town and we had to get a taxi over to him along with a junior guide. Well the short journey was a complete crack up because they picked a tiny complete wreck of a taxi driven by a huge guy. He had a new bumper bar for his bomb on the back seat (talk about over capitalising) and because we had to squeeze in there, and I mean squeeze in they didn’t know what to do with the new bumper. I know why don’t you put it on the roof and the driver can put in his arm out the window and hang onto one end and the junior guide in the front seat can hang onto the other end. The streets in Peru are generally a madhouse and there is little or no sense in how they drive here, and to be able to you need to be part rally car driver, part magician and also have a good dose of telepathy. Well here we are
driving down the busy streets of Nazca with the guys hanging onto the bumper on the roof weaving through the traffic when the driver’s mobile phone went off. Any sane person would have pulled over but we are in Nazca so with the driver takes his hand off the steering wheel and answers the phone while steering the car with his knees. Had to drop the phone a couple of times so he could corner but otherwise we managed to navigate the streets of Nazca hands free. We should have been terrified but I guess we must be getting used to it and just couldn’t stop laughing, was tempted to ask him he could take us again this afternoon.
Anyway having safely reached our guide for the morning we transferred to a near new Camry and met the two other girls on our tour this morning, Tatiana and Julia. The first stop this morning was at a hill that gave a great view over one of the many trapezoids made by the Nazca. Having seen them from the air yesterday it was so great to actually see one at ground level and understand how they did them, really amazing
Close up of one of the lines
work. Where the lookout was located was in the midst of an ancient Nazca cemetery and the entire area was heavily dug over by grave robbers.
The next stop was a little down the road at one of the many so called Nazca aqueducts at Cantallo. This area is incredibly arid and receives very little rain, and a lot of the rivers that pass through this area only flow with water for a couple weeks a year when there are heavy rains up in the Andes. The Nazca however realised that although there was no water in the rivers, water was always flowing just beneath the surface and so built extensive underground channels following the course of the rivers. They generally constructed them in 500 metre lengths that culminated in a stone lined reservoir, and along the length of the underground channels were access points called windows. The windows are a circular ramp that leads down to the water so people can not only get the water but it allows them access into the underground channels that require regular cleaning of debris. The system is an amazing piece of ancient engineering and is so good that it still functions
Shelley at the lines
today, and is the principle irrigation method for the crops in the Nazca region. The Nazca lined the channels with river stones and sand that allowed water to freely flow into the channels and in fact filters the water and this only came to light when recently the Government concrete lined one of the channels and it basically ran dry. That is why they are really not aqueducts and are in fact an elaborate filtration system.
At our stop we were allowed to descend down the spiral windows to touch and if we wanted to taste the water. Discovered that not only is the flowing water filled with fish but is actually really warm. We considered having a taste of the water but with an overnight bus on the cards for tonight we really didn’t want to risk getting the trots. From here we were driven a short distance down the road to an ancient Incan outpost called Pardeones. When the Incans came into this area they established administrative centres where they could not only keep an eye on the locals but also tax them. Pardeones was mainly constructed of mud bricks and a new town and road was
The Nazca terrain
pushed over a lot of it so not much remains to be seen but was still interesting to see.
We had been told it was going to be a 3 hour tour but it was closer to 2 hours when we got dropped off in town at 11.30, but the sights were great and our guide was exceptional so we weren’t going to complain, and besides we got a free thrill ride in a taxi to start the day. Ended up walking around the small markets in the centre of town for a bit and checked out a protest at the town hall that had the riot police out once again. A kid started hassling us to get our boots done and so we weakened and let him polish both our boots for 2 Sol, but he did such a good job we gave him 5 sol ($2). We had lunch at the Plaza Mayor restaurant once again before heading back to the tour agents for our afternoon tours.
For this tour we were in a small mini bus with 8 others which included an Australian couple, Ian and Sheila who are over here in South America for
A Nazca Trapezoid
6 months. The first stop for today was at a small hill out on the Nazca plains where we got some great views of the surrounding lines. The hill was good to because it sort of showed what the lines must have looked like when first done. The intense heat of this region bakes the rocks and sand a dark grey colour but just below this surface is light coloured sand. When the guys made the lines they removed the rocks and swept the dark material aside revealing the light coloured ground surface, but because the lines were done about 1200 years ago the ground has been baked back to a grey colour. The observation hill had several paths going up it and the ground had been worn through to the light coloured earth beneath, and it made me realise how amazing the lines would have looked like when they were first done.
From here we drove out to see the Palpa Galeras where we saw a collection of a dozen figures etched into the side of a hill that are believed to pre date the Nazca culture and are attributed to the Paracas culture. The figures are hard
The ruins of Pardeones
to discern despite having been recently restored but are incredible when considering they are nearing 2000 years old. From here we headed back towards Nazca stopping at the Maria Reiche museum for a quick twenty minute look. Maria Reiche was the famous Mathematician who spent a great deal of her life studying the lines, and living in what is a basic single room with dirt floor whilst doing it. As a kid I remember seeing documentaries of this “crazy” German woman roaming around the Peruvian desert measuring the lines trying to work out there meaning. I found it sort of amazing to be here to see her tiny room and her grave. The poor old thing apparently spent the last years of her life suffering from skin cancer, kidney failure and Alzheimer’s before passing away in 1998. Most of her theories were based on the lines having connections with astrological observations and unfortunately for her most of them have now been disproved. Of course the true meanings of the lines are still hotly contested from the academics to the lunatic fringe and everything in between. Having seen them we are not about to guess why or who made them but
The figures at Palpa Galeras
I sure would hate to have been out there in the blistering sun shifting rocks for no good reason.
From here we stopped at the high steel tower that gives an elevated ground view of the lines and a couple of the geoglyphs. Got to see the “hands” and the “tree” from the air and now from this tower and despite them looking larger from the tower than the air they are still not as quite as large as I thought they would be. From here we headed back to town and got dropped off at 6pm. The tour this afternoon along with the guide was great and it was fantastic to see the lines up close.
We returned to our hotel room and had a shower and waited till 7.30 when we checked out. Angela gave us a big send off and wanted to be photographed with us and then we got a bag of lollies for our bus journey, oh if only all hotels were like this. We walked down to the bus terminal and waited till 8.45 when our bus arrived and we boarded.
There are more photos below