Huacachina - 06-08 Feb 2014


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February 8th 2014
Published: April 2nd 2014
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Pit stop in the mountains - with mango's
Thursday 6th February (Odyssey Day 90)







We departed lovely Cusco at 0700 this morning, since we have a difficult drive over the mountains. We left Maddie and Lou for a few days and they will catch us up in Lima. Getting out of Cusco was interesting and we got lost trying to find the right road. The satnav wasn’t much help and it took over an hour to get fully out of the city. I don’t envy Simon that job, as the roads are narrow, the corners blind, and the drivers reckless!







We headed through the mountains again and the way we drive through the clouds is still breathtaking for me. The scenery is always amazing and hasn’t yet lost its grandeur. I doubt it ever will. Having grown up in Perth (Australia), where there are no such things as mountains, skiing is a water sport and 10°C is cold, a place like this will always make me stare wide-eyed.







As expected, it was a long day of driving today, with an effort made to get as far below 4000m
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Joanna & Hannah - it's a little cold
as possible before stopping for the night. At 2100 it was deemed too late to keep going and so we stopped on a little grassy hill beside the road to make camp. I have no idea how Emma and Simon could see it in the dark, but after a very long day we were quick to set up camp and get dinner going.







Being so high up, it was rather cold at night and we quickly donned the wonderfully warm alpaca jumpers we had bought in Cusco, which proved to be a very sound investment. We haven’t been this cold in a camp since windy Patagonian Argentina, way back in early December!











Friday 7th February (Odyssey Day 91)







On waking this morning, we discovered our camp was in a beautiful area of green hills. Not too far away we could see a little town and surrounding us were green mountains. The campsite may have been a stab in the dark last night, but we would have been hard put to find a better one even
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A drive through green mountains
in daylight.







This morning we were treated to a beautiful drive through mountains, and then suddenly we were driving through desert! It was a very sudden and shocking change as it was literally around a corner that the scenery altered. Suddenly there were dry and barren mountainsides and sand hills in the distance – no more trees, or snow, or people.







The roads were windy and the only life to be seen was the odd cactus. And so we headed for the plains of Peru and had a quick stop at a lookout in the middle of the desert from which you could see a glimpse of the Nazca lines. This is a stop I am looking forward to on our way back through Peru in April.







The next stop for the group was in the tiny little oasis town of Huacachina, found near the city of Ica. We arrived in the mid afternoon and got our overnight bags ready for a night in the sand dunes.







We left town on a
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A sudden and shocking change of scenery
couple of dune buggies for an evening of fun on the dunes – dune buggy rides, sand boarding and sunset over the desolate sand dunes. The sand boarding was great fun, though somehow I managed to go over two dunes on one go – I have no idea how everyone else managed to stop! It was a great evening and full of an interesting mix of adrenaline and relaxation.







For dinner, we were treated to a barbeque in the sands, along with a taste of the local drink Pisco Sour, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all! Tonight the plan was to sleep under the stars, but not before Hannah and I had a very wild trip to town in the dark with Roberto and Wilbur (our drivers) and had even more fun sand boarding down the dunes around our camp – though admittedly while the slide down was great fun in the dark, the trek back to the top was hard work.







Finally pulling out our sleeping bag liners, we went to sleep on the sand, digging ourselves holes to sleep in as it was rather
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Hannah & AJ, ready to go sand boarding
cold at night. The liners were not quite warm enough, but we were both too stubborn to want to get our sleeping bags out – or perhaps we were simply far too lazy to want to get the sand out of them in the morning!











Saturday 8th February (Odyssey Day 92)







Watching the sky lighten from within my sleeping bag liner, I didn’t want to put my head out into the cold. Thankfully, as soon as the sun crested the dunes around our makeshift camp, the warmth followed.







Packing up was easy and we all piled into the dune buggies for a fast trip back to town. Along the way we were chased for a while by a pack of wild dogs. Apparently these are town strays and when they get out on the dunes, they pack together and can be quite dangerous. Fortunately the areas we camp in are too far out for them to go. Too far out for bugs as well!







We got our breakfast
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Shanty town on the outskirts of Lima
by the truck before leaving at 0830. From here we are headed for Lima, the capital city of Peru. Along the way we received our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.







Near Lima we passed some chicken farms on the beach. There were roofed huts on the beach, long and narrow and full of battery hens in their cages. It was an interesting sight and most of the group were completely confused about what they were at first. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them they were chickens and went to get a second opinion… yep, definitely chickens!







We arrive in Lima early, around 1430. It was nice to get in early enough for a walk around town especially since we only have one full day here. Ellie and I had an early dinner and an early night – a good idea since we had been so busy sand boarding last night I didn’t get much sleep!


Additional photos below
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A comfortable place to sleep
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Lunch stop
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Breakfast surprise - what a lovely place to camp
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Bleak but somehow appealing
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Cactus were the only signs of life
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There were limited places for pit stops - sometimes desperation overcomes the need for privacy
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AJ - in the back end of nowhere, Peru
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Hannah with a jigsaw of broken tile pieces
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Steep slopes and winding roads
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A cactus farm? Really?
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AJ with a dune buggy
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Sliding on the sand dunes
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Sand boarding fun - it's a long way down
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Lining up for sunset photos
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AJ & Hannah, midnight on the dunes
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Hanna, Johnny & AJ - pisco sours on the dunes, the city of Ica in the background
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Morning in the dunes
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Heading to Lima

Kelly celebrates his birthday on the way to Lima


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