Nazca Part II: Aqueducts, Dune Buggies and Sand Boarding


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South America » Peru » Ica » Nazca » Nazca
March 17th 2013
Published: March 19th 2013
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I still wasn't having any luck finding a tour to the aqueducts or for the sand dunes. As I sat doing my research and combing through my guide books, the phone rang. The tour desk here at the hotel had 4 people confirmed for the dune buggy ride out to the sand dunes and would I like to go? Heck yeah I would! All I had to do was show up in the lobby at 2:30 with my sunglasses, hat, sun screen and a jacket for the ride home. Sign me up baby, I am going boarding down the sand dunes in the Peruvian desert, something I really wanted to do. Since I had several hours to kill, I decided to take the bull by the horns and just hire a dang taxi to take me out to the aqueducts. All in all, I have done or seen everything I wanted to on this trip. As I read other people's blogs, I see things that I missed, but for the most part they are things I chose to skip. After 3 trips to Europe, I am pretty church-ed out. I would rather hike, climb or board down a sand dune than look at paintings or statues.

The super friendly hotel security and/or handy man helped get me a taxi to take me to the aqueducts, wait for me to do my thing and then bring me back to the hotel. It's times like this that I wish I had a better grasp on Spanish. I take things at face value and hope for the best. We drove along some of the funkiest back streets, through what appeared to be ditches and down alleys. I kept Freak Out Brendan in check and chose to watch the bleak scenery as we drove. Soon we were at a checkpoint where I paid my 10 soles and received a voucher for the exact aqueducts that I wanted to see, the Acueductos de Cantalloc. These were featured in a documentary and really peaked my interest. The large spiral ramps lined with stones lead down to underground aquifers to provide fresh water and are still in use today. I was very impressed with them. Visualize chambered Nautilus made of stone going 10 feet or more into the ground. Heck, you actually don't have to visualize them because of course I took my camera and snapped more pictures than 1 person should be allowed. True to his word, the taxi driver was there to take me back to the hotel. It was a most satisfying morning. I think that I have been on vacation long enough that I am able to breathe and let things happen as they happen. I no longer go the the local news websites to see what is going on back at home. For all I know California could have fallen in the ocean and I won't know until I try to check in for my flight only to be told that California is gone. Ok, so that is kind of an exaggeration, but you get what I am trying to say I hope.

For lunch I went to the restaurant I went to the day I arrived. They had chickens on the rotisserie and holy crap they smelled good. I didn't see them on the menu, so ended up with awesome fried chicken, but I still had a hankering for rotisserie chicken. Trust me, it was worth going back for. These chickens may not have had a cute little chicken habitat like the guinea pigs, but they were absolutely incredible. I wolfed down the half chicken in about 5 minutes flat. I will probably put a picture up (as you know, I am a dork that way) but the picture can't do justice to it. When I was finished I headed back to the hotel, grabbed a cafe Americano and felt very pleased with myself. Dirty, dusty, dry Nazca was bringing it in a way I had not expected and I was grateful.

At 2:30 I met the 2 couples from Columbia for our 4x4 buggy trip. We drove out through the desert following the same road that I was on yesterday. At Cahuachi we stopped for pictures, but once past that it was all new to me. At one point we stopped at a ransacked cemetery. There was an organized pile of bones and skulls arranged for photographs, but beyond that were sun bleached bones littering the landscape. I will put up a picture and hope that you will take time to really look at it. It was very eerie seeing skulls and bones half buried in the sand, knowing that they were people just like us. I picked up a rock that had obviously been shaped into a tool. Of course I put it back where I found it. It's not my place to disturb this sacred ground anymore that it already has been.

After some more rough, bumpy driving we found ourselves in different landscape. We followed a dry river for a while and worked our way from rocky, dirt hillsides into the largest sand dunes in South America, the Cerro Blanco dunes standing almost 7,000 feet high. I am sure that we didn't stop on the tallest ones, but where we stopped was still high and something I had never seen before. Before we started driving on the sand, the driver stopped to let some air out of the tires and then just took off up and down the dunes like a roller coaster. We were all laughing out loud it was so much fun. Then we stopped and it was time to prove ourselves and hike to the top with snowboards. I am guessing there is not much difference between snowboards and sand-boards and honestly I didn't ask or care. All I know is that I was up for some fun. The first person in our group chose to go down standing up. Brave, yes. Foolish? Perhaps. He did very well until about half way down when he did a major wipe out. It was truly epic. We all stood on the top watching as he slowly stood up and waved that he was ok. Yup, that cemented it in my mind. I was so not going to try to stand. Heck, I can barely walk without tripping or wobbling, so I know I would not have been successful in that. Instead we all plopped down on the board on our stomachs and flew down the slopes. I can't begin to say how much I loved this. Going down was great, but trying to walk up the sand dunes was difficult. We had an incredible time. By the time we were finished we all had sand plastered to our clothes and bodies. It was in my pockets, ears, on my arms, face, in my shoes. Oh heck, who cared? It was fun and that was the name of the game.

Going back we were going to stop at the same aqueduct that I saw yesterday. The driver tried to drive through some standing water and ended up getting the 4x4 stuck in the mud. Try as he might, it wouldn't get out. He had us walk down to the aqueduct while he worked on freeing the buggy. Surprisingly he was able to do it. That extra time allowed us to see a sunset worthy of a painting. It was beautiful. Facing the other direction we were able to see part of a rainbow. It was very special. Finally, it was time to head back to Nazca and to a hot shower. For dinner I did my usual walk up and down the street, not really feeling any of the restaurants. I finally chose a Chinese place that was packed with locals. It was a bit odd ordering Chinese food in Spanish, but I was able to pick out a pork and vegetable dish. It was not bad and the price was certainly right. Looking back on today, I have to say that it was one of the most fun days I have had. Can't wait to see what else this trip will bring!


Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


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Bones in the DesertBones in the Desert
Bones in the Desert

These are obviously arranged for photos
Bones in the Desert 2Bones in the Desert 2
Bones in the Desert 2

Now these bones are right where they were unearthed
Lookng up to the TopLookng up to the Top
Lookng up to the Top

This is how far we would ride, and then have to walk back up. Ugh.


19th March 2013
Best Chicken Ever!

This looks exceptional!
19th March 2013
Best Chicken Ever!

It was even better than it looked. It sure made me happy.
19th March 2013

Look out world here comes sand boarding Brendan.
We had not heard about the aqueducts and they look very interesting. Wish we had seen that in our research. As you said you can't see everything.
19th March 2013

Went Sand Borading Again Today!
The aqueducts are fairly close to Nazca, but I didn't see any tours to them. Had I not seen them on tv, i would have missed them as well. But yes, it is impossible to see everything.
19th March 2013

Sandboarding looks like so much fun! I guess they don't provide a ride back up the slope. If we make it out there, this will definitely be added to our to-do list. p.s. CA has not fallen into the ocean yet~ :)
19th March 2013

It was a blast. I went sandboarding again yesterday in Ica. They would drive the buggy to the bottom and drive us to different slopes so that we did not have to hoof it. Was a whole heck of a lot of fun. Glad to hear CA is still there, lol.
19th March 2013
Best Chicken Ever!

shouldn't have looked at this when I was hungry!
that looks sensational. more food shots please :)
19th March 2013
Best Chicken Ever!

It was as good as it looked. Only 1 or 2 more blogs left I'm afraid. Heading home soon.
19th March 2013

You be having fun!
Loved every minute of this blog entry! Ancient aqueducts, sun bleached desert bones, dune buggy and sand boarding, it all sound like magic! Even ordinary Chinese food sounds exotic and that sunset! Almost as enchanting as the one from my wine country balcony in summer. Great entry! Glad freak out Brendan was beaten back. On to the next!
19th March 2013

You are so right
I have had a blast here. I am glad you have followed this trip. Off to an island marine sanctuary today, Lima tomorrow and then back to reality, sigh.
19th March 2013
Covered in Sand

Cool perspective!
Great photo! You are oozing happiness!! :)
19th March 2013
Covered in Sand

Thank you! I took a video clip sand boarding down the dunes and took this still shot at the bottom. I love speed and thrill rides, so this made me very happy.
20th March 2013
Sunset

Great sunset!
Hi B, loved this sunset picture. Will have to get mom down to see it in color. You know, you can't see a sunset or sunset picture without thinking about her. Everything you have written about and pictured on this trip has been fantastic. Next thing you know you will be a snow boarder. Have fun!
20th March 2013
Sunset

I think of Mom when I post them
It's funny that you say that. I always think of Mom when I post sunsets and Dad when I post trains, sheep or monkeys. I had a feeling you would like this trip. From all that I have done, you would think that I was an outdoors kind of guy. Who knew. Snowboarding? Well I will take that under consideration. lol Thanks for the message.
20th March 2013

Great advebntures!
Both your Nazca blogs were full of such great adventures. You may not speak Spanish, but you're fab at calling a taxi or an agency to take you out for your own personal adventures! Love those spiral aqueducts and sand dune shots. Best wishes on a yummy time in very foodie Lima.
20th March 2013

Awesome Adventures!
Thank you Tara. You're right. I am not that great with Spanish, but I do know how to make things happen. I'm glad I do, because these were some awfully fun outings. I hope you are loving Cusco.

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