Sand dune buggying near the Nasca lines!

Trip Start Dec 28, 2010
Trip End Jul 15, 2011

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, January 8, 2011

After a seven hour overnight stint at Rio airport, followed by a long flight across the continent, I made it safely to Peru's capital, Lima. After a week of cloud in Rio I was expecting better from Peru. Naturally, when I landed, Lima was covered in a layer of mist!

Can't complain though, as since moving south to Nasca it's been beautiful sunshine every day.

I only had a day in Lima, but I took a city tour to get an idea of the place. It's a huge South American metropolis with over 8 million inhabitants. And the first thing that strikes you is how small Peruvians are! I'm a good foot taller than most of them!

Anyway, Lima was pretty cool and I think the city tour covered most stuff off - the Presidential Palace, the San Francisco catacombs & the Plaza San Martin where Peru celebrates its independence.

The highlight of Peru should be the Inca Trail & I didn't fancy that by myself so I'm in an adventure tour group for the next couple of weeks. A really good bunch of people from across the world - Australians, Canadians, Danes, Brits, Germans and uno Americano, who's my roomie. Top guy from New York City. We all bonded over several Peruvian beers as sun set over Lima on day one.

Today we visited the world famous Nasca lines. These are mystical lines cut into the Nasca desert - a series of animal figures and geometric shapes that can only be appreciated from the sky. Some are up to 200m in length.

Nobody really knows how the lines were created but it's thought that ancient Peruvians created them in 700BC as ritual symbols to the gods. There is speculation that aliens created them - rather like crop circles seen in the US. Either way, they are pretty unbelievable. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see them from a plane as our guide strongly advised against it. Several planes have crashed lately as they are not well maintained. You can see some shapes from tall lookout towers which is where I took my photos (trying desperately not to look down from about 200 foot!).

Had an amazing adrenaline rush yesterday too. We went buggying over these massive sand dunes - hundreds of feet tall. You basically strap yourself in to a mega powerful 4x4 and then hold on for your life!  So cool flying about these dunes, wind rushing past your face and tipping over sand mountains like a rollercoaster. We then stopped on the top of some dune sandboard down!  Just the same as snowboarding - but on sand. Something I'll probably never do again, but a brilliant experience. Having said that I was on my backside more than I was hanging ten on my board!

So over the next few days I'm taking several night buses as we make our way to Cusco (the gateway to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu). The forecast isn't good with hail expected and freezing night temperatures into the Andes. We have a three day and night hike up the Inca Trail, sleeping outdoors with the stars. I think it's going to be tough going but also really rewarding.
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