To say our taxi ride south was an adventure would be to do our driver a disservice; it was terrifying. Crammed into the car with our bags on our laps, he bobbed and weaved and squeezed through the tiniest of gaps in traffic, including a few passing lane games of chicken that we could have done without. Against the odds, we finally arrived in Huacachina, a small desert oasis nestled in the sand dunes for our next activity: dune buggy and sand surfing.
We dropped our bags in a small shack at the dune buggy lot and hopped into one of the worker’s cars to head to our buggy. The buggy itself had two seats in the front and three in the back, and even had seat belts for everyone. Our driver navigated the buggy through a few dirt streets within a small neighborhood before reaching the entrance to the dunes and really opening it up.
He took us up and over several large stretches of the dunes including a few drops that made our stomachs turn (in a good way). Our guide stopped about half way through so we could take a few turns sand boarding down the dunes, which is literally just snowboarding on a sand dune. He even took the time to park atop a particularly picturesque dune so we could take some stereotypical tourist photos.
All in all it was a great trip, and worth the frightening taxi trip. After sunset our guide dropped us of back at the shack where, somewhat surprisingly, our bags were still there. We scooped up our bags and took another taxi to our hostel, located in the nearby city of Ica. We walked down the street for dinner to try chifa for the first time for dinner (a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food) and plopped down in our beds after a long, tiring day.
In the morning we made our way to the bus station and boarded a bus headed for Nazca. We spent the afternoon on the bus weaving through the desert mountains. Nazca, famous for their large sand-drawn images (or “lines”) was located even further south in the heart of the desert. We arrived on a Sunday, which happened to be Peru’s presidential election run-off day, so much of the city was shut down. We wandered around a bit and enjoyed some ice cream at one of the only open places we could find, before spending the rest of the evening at our hostel.
The main attraction in this town is the “Nazca Lines“. The Nazca lines are a series of large geoglphys scraped into the soil a few thousand years ago. Their designs range from human hands to various animals. Since they’re so huge, the best way to see them is really by plane. We researched a few guided tours to see several different areas to view the lines, but the prices just didn’t fit our budget. Instead we were able to negotiate a private car that would take us out to the large viewing tower along the highway, which we had passed on the way into town the day before. A short 30 minutes later and we were atop the tower, looking down at the giant artwork. It was pretty neat to see in person, and really fascinating how you really cannot see the lines from the road, despite the lines being literally feet away from the edge of the roadway.
Our driver brought us back into town where we spent the rest of the afternoon checking out various bars and restaurants. We played cards and had pizza for dinner, then headed home to enjoy a few homemade cocktails (fresh passion fruit is the best!) in preparation for, you guessed it, another overnight bus ride. This time we didn’t leave until 11:50 pm, but we felt like regulars by this point in our trip and knew the best routine to get through a night of “sleep” in a reclining bus chair.