We had an amazing weekend in Nasca, a town in the middle of the Peruvian desert...though we MIGHT be considered crazy because it was a 30 hour round trip on the bus and we spent a total of 36 hours actually in Nasca but we had so much fun that it was so worth. We got an overnight bus through the desert for 14 hours which was so twisty...it was hairpin bends all the way down the hill and we worked out that Nasca is over 2km lower in altitude than Cusco which would explain our awful popping ears on the way down! We stayed in a really cheap nice hostel with a swimming pool which only cost 15 soles a night (less than 3 pounds) so we were happy.
On Saturday we went sandboarding in the desert which was so much fun. Our guide Eduardo picked us up in a sandbuggy which had no sides, no windscreen and no bonnet and it wouldn't start which filled us with confidence! We got going eventually and drove out into the desert, with Eduardo racing along at 80kph (it got up to 100kph when going flying down the dunes!) First we went to a Nasca temple called Cahuachi where they used to do human sacrifices of women, children and animals to the gods. Then we went to a Nascan cemetery which had been raided by grave robbers so the whole site was scattered with human bones and sculls. It was very creepy...there was even some human hair there.
Eduardo told us about the mummification process and how the bodies are buried sitting in the feotal position facing the sun and are surrounded by all their possessions, which were then sadly taken by the grave robbers. The desert is full of these graves apparently....spooky. He did also tell us that that is what happens to bad sandboarders.....
From there we drove through a small town where our buggy was chased by a load of potentially rabid dogs...it was really scary because they were so close to jumping into the buggy and eating us. Luckily we survived and drove on to the sand dunes. They were enormous and stretched out as far as you could see. We raced up and down the dunes in the buggy and Eduardo found it hilarious to point out imaginary condors in the sky just as we were going over the edge of a massive dune! It was so fun.
After a while we stopped at the top of a dune and started sandboarding, first on our front sliding down the dunes head first which was fun as we went so fast! Then we started learning to board which was similar to snowboarding but more difficult to turn. We were so proud of Jill because she managed to sandboard despite having had a skiing accident with a snowboarder! We did a few runs on different dunes and laughed as we kept falling over - luckily we were in the middle of the desert so there was nobody there to see how terrible we were! It was exhausting running up the dunes to try again but it was so fun. Finally we walked up to the ridge of one of the high dunes and watched the sun set over the desert, it was so amazing to see. We then had a race down to the bottom going head first...Jill won! Driving back through the desert was beautiful as the sun set behind us though we had to drive through the rabid dog village again which was horrible!
On Sunday, Georgi and Hev took a flight over the Nasca Lines, which are mysterious giant pictures in the desert of animals and shapes. Nobody knows who drew them or why but there are theories that they were drawn to help shamans, or they are offerings to the gods for water and fertility, or that they are ancient running tracks (??). At the airport we offered to go in separate planes to even up the numbers so we were able to sit beside the pilot which was cool. They were really small 6 seater planes with propellers and we could see all the lines in the desert below us...some were big and it was crazy to imagine how people had drawn them into the ground thousands of years ago.
We safely made it back to the ground and set off into the desert again to the Mirador where you can see the hands, tree and lizard up close from a tower. We took a bus which literally dropped us off in the middle of nowhere with only the tower and alot of sand for miles around. We saw the pictures (Jill high-fived the Nasca hand) and we took lots of jumping photos. Luckily we hitched a ride back to Nasca on a bus so we weren't stranded in the middle of the desert as we decided this would be a bad plan.
After a bit more time in the town, we got a bus back to Cusco which took 16 hours and was a bit like sitting in an oven. They gave us blankets which was nice but completely unnecessary. However they did play Mamma Mia which was exciting as they couldn't dub the songs in Spanish so we could still sing along! And even though the buses were so long, we loved our weekend in Nasca so we decided it was worth it!