During my travel, whenever I would meet fellow travellers and tell them about my itinerary, the moment I would say Nasca(or Nazca) they would all question me why I am spending precious days of travel in that little city. Most of the people were skipping the city and instead we’re doing a a nearby town called Ica.
But I for one, had made up my mind the moment I had started reading about Peru and had decided that Nasca would definitely be a city I would be spending at least a complete day in, if not two. The reason this city fascinated me so much was because of a particular show that I had seen on National Geographic long time back.This show was about aliens and in that particular episode they were covering a particular city in Peru which had mysterious lines drawn across a massive piece of land in the form of animals and geometric figures.
These lines could only be seen aerially and thus the mystery was that how and who drew them if they couldn’t see what they were making. This city where these mystery lines were, is Nasca. And I just had to visit the city, just so that I could go see these lines.
And thus from Lima I took a morning 11am bus to Nasca which was about 11 hrs away. The bus company I traveled with was called ‘Tepsa
‘ and I absolutely loved traveling with this bus company. Though tickets were a little expensive(95 soles
) as compared to other bus companies, but the service was as good as that of an airline. There was a security guard who did a security check of everyone getting on board, there was a bus hostess, there was a business and an economy class, there was TV, there were comfortable blankets and pillows and there was not one but two delicious meals served with unlimited soft drinks
being offered. I felt pampered and did not realise how the time passed. At 6.30 pm I was standing out at the bus terminal with my luggage, waiting for the driver my hostel had sent to pick me up.
Soon I met the person and was off to my hostel which was called Hostel Buen Pastor
. The reviews of this hostel had been great and so I had chosen this over the others. In fact I had made some friends at the bus terminal while waiting for the driver and I got them along to stayin this hostel as well. While in no means fancy, but it had the one thing that is super important to me- it was CLEAN
. I had a private room with an attached bathroom and though quite basic, the room was cozy and the bed was comfy. The hosts of this hostel were extremely sweet and did all that they could to ensure that I was comfortable. I definitely slept well that night and woke up all excited for my day of excitement i.e. the day to visit the Nasca lines
The hostess Sonia, had been kind enough to book a tour for me which included morning visit to the lines, followed by visit to the city attractions like the Cahuachi pyramids, Chauchilla cemetery and lastly sand boarding at Cerro Blanco. The tour bus came to pick me up at 8 am for my first location. Sonia told me to avoid having breakfast before the flight(as I had mentioned that the lines can only been seen aerially and hence I had the tour in a flight), as many people get sick while on the flight due to the swirls and turns that the airplane takes.
We were at the airport at 8.15 am and I was told by my guide to go buy a ticket for the airport tax. So apart from the USD 85 for the Nasca Line flight, one also has to pay an airport tax of USD 8. A little expensive but so worth it in the end.
Once I had completed the formalities I settled down and started watching a documentary on the Nascan lines, which was playing on the airport television. This documentry was very interesting and explained what the archeologists thought was the reason for the existence of these lines.As per them the lines were made during the Nascan civilisation for religious purposes(Whattt…no aliens? Crap).They believe that these lines were created over days and in different locations to please the God, hoping for the gods to be kind enough to bless them with rain.Water was definitely the most important thing for Nascans considering they lived in dry, arid lands and their well being depended completely on this element.
Soon my name was called and I rushed to the boarding area. The airplane was a small 7 seater one, run by Aero Paracas. I was extremely lucky as I got the last two seats to myself and the pilot told me that once the flight was air borne, I could keep shifting from one seat to another to get a better view of the lines. Yippee….
Soon the flight took off, and Sonia was right. It does take a lot of sharp turns and zig zag crosses so as to make the passengers get a better view of the figures on the ground. I almost felt a bit dizzy, but all of it vanished as soon as the pilot took the airplane right over the first figure which was an astronaut drawn over a huge piece of rock. After that came the monkey, the spider, the birds, the geometric figure, the parrot, then the hands(close to the one post on land from where only one figure is visible. This post is called the Mirador and is on Panamerican highway). This was unbelievable and so darn exciting. I was actually seeing it with my own eyes and not on a TV show. Elated beyond measure.
The flight landed back after around 30 mins after which I waited for my tour guide to take me back to the hostel. The next part of my trip would start after two hours and so I had time to go walk around the main square for a bit.
The main square happened to be 5 minutes from my Hostel and hence was extremely convenient. I also spotted on the map given to me by my hostel, a Planetarium which had an English show at 7 pm regarding the lines and the speculation on their formulation. I decided that if I returned back from my tour on time, I would definitely go for it.
Once back at the hostel, I sat in the lobby waiting for a vehicle to come pick me at the mentioned time. I heard a honk and when I went out, I was so excited to see what I was going to be riding in. It was a huge 8 seater buggy, which was open from all sides. The same was the vehicle which was going to be used for the last part of the trip, which was dune buggy ride.
Yet again I was lucky, as I got the front seat next to the driver and thus I had a clear view of each and everything without any heads blocking my view. Double Yipee….
Off we went to our first stop, that was Ocongalla
spiral well that was made during the Nascan civilisation for getting better access to the ground water and thus redirecting it to the land for irrigation purposes. This site was around 30 mins away from the main town and I enjoyed the wind blowing into my hair and the cool breeze on my face. Once at the well our guide explained the importance of the well and also showed us the insect called Cochineal
which grows on the cactus plant.In the ancient times this insect was the source of the colour red used in textiles, used for make up products etc(actually it was the blood of the insect which was used
After 15 mins we headed to our next stop which were the Pyramids of Nasca- Cahuachi pyramids. These pyramids like the ones in Trujillo had religious symbolism and the archeologists had founds ruins, tombs and artefacts from the ancient civilisation when they dug inside these pyramids. Due to the financial constraint, the sites were dug only two months in a year and thus a lot of area was barricaded and was not accessible to the public.
By now the sun was strong and so we quickly took a walk around the pyramids and then headed to the buggy prepared for our next stop. We were now headed to the Nascan cemetery- Chauchilla . Initially when I had heard about it, I was wondering what is so great about going and seeing graves. But 30 mins later when we arrived at an expanded piece of land, our guide told us that unlike the recent times, earlier there were no graves. Hence if we dig a little in this piece of lands, we would be sure to come across a skull, or a limb bone etc. In short, during that time thousands and thousands of bodies were mummified and were buried in this area and their remains haunt the lands even till now. We actually saw a dug out area where many bones were spread across. There were skulls, skulls with hair, hands, legs etc. Majorly creepy I tell you.
After clicking pictures, we were now ready for the most exciting part of the tour- the SANDBOARDING. The driver of the buggy took us 20 minutes further into the zone for dune buggy rides. All across we could only see clear white sand dunes. After ensuring that all our seat belts were on, the driver got the buggy in the gear, and then zoomed up on a dune climbing up and then zooming down at 160 km/h. What an adrenalin rush. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to scream or let out a whoop of joy. It was out of the world.
Finally the buggy came to a stop at the edge of a tall dune and we could literally feel that with one strong gush of the wind, we would all go right down the slope in the buggy. But thankfully, we were spared. We were told to get off our buggy, and then were handed over our sand boards. It was time to slide down and roll in the sand. Awesome right?
We were given instructions on the Do’s and the Dont’s and then everyone got on the task. Some went down standing on the boards, some lying on the boards and some even tried the proper surfing techniques. It was great fun to do it and by the end we were all competing on who would slide down the farthest. This continued till the sun set, after which we got back on the buggy, put in our jackets as it had started getting cold and then headed back to the hostels.
Unfortunately by the time we reached back to the hostel, it was 7 and thus I had missed the Planetarium show. But in a way I did not mind since I was very tired, and needed to rest a bit before catching the overnight bus to Arequipa at 10 pm.
That is all about my experience in Nasca. If you are reading my blog and you are making your itinerary for the places to cover in Peru, don’t forget to put Nasca on the list. You definitely will not regret it.
Do share your experiences as well if you have done a backpacking trip across Peru. Would love to hear your stories as well.