It’s not often I fit 6 places into one blog but at the same time, it’s not often I see 6 places in the space of only a few days! I arrived in Nazca in a daze. I had slept so badly on the overnight bus and all I wanted was some eggs and fresh juice for breakfast.
We arrived at San Marcelo hotel after the bumpiest bus journey ever and I was very happy to see that it was more like a resort than a hotel with a pool and seating areas and a big room for breakfast where they were setting out hot drinks, juice, bread, eggs and fruit for us. My mood lifted and I felt ready to relax.
The main attraction in Nazca is the Nazca lines. They are large lines and shapes carved into the ground and no one knows how they got there. Just over half of the group took a small plane over the lines where a guide could show them most of the 800 formations. However, I decided that it was too expensive for half a days activity (the actual flight was only 30 minutes) so I stayed back with a few others and we got out tan on by the pool! I got to the pool around 9.30am and it was already 30 degrees!! I instantly knew this day was going to involve a lot of suncream! We got a ball and some people got some beers from reception and we had a lie down, had a swim, played some water polo and after a long time in the Andes, I was ready to relax in a bikini!
We met the others in town for lunch and then unanimously decided to come back to the pool again instead of seeing the town. Again, there was more sunbathing, more playing in the pool and the boys managed to find a way to get the little water slide to work.
For dinner, we had a traditional Peruvian meal called Pachamanca. Pacha is Quechua for ground and manca means pot – although when our food was cooked it was under the ground, only the cheese and vegetables were in a pot. A fire had been burning all afternoon and then we went to watch how they prepared the dinner. First they crushed any bit bits of wood so that the hot part was flat and then they laid all our food over. They then covered it with coriander, banana leaves, the hot stones that were originally above the fire, more leaves, a mat/blanket and then covered it all over with dirt.
About 2 hours later, we gave offerings of wine and cocoa leaves to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and watched it all be uncovered. It was amazing sending there and slowly having our nostrils filled with the smells of yummy food! We had beef, pork, chicken, tamales, corn, beans, cheese, potatoes and sweet potatoes all served with 2 sauces: one spivey and one mild. We washed it all down with some chicha morana (purple corn juice) and the alcohol we had bought and I went to bed with a very, very happy tummy!
The next day we were on the move again and our first stop was at a 20m viewing platform for 2 of the Nazca Lines. Turns out, you can actually see 3 but one of them has the panamerica motorway running straight through it as that was built in 1933 and the lines were discovered in 1934! We could see the tree which is 70m in length, the hands (which I thought was a bird) that is 50m and the gecko with the road cutting off its tail. The longest of all the Nazca lines is 300m long!
After a few more hours of driving, we arrived at Huacachina. Huacachina is a small village/town in the middle of the desert and looks like a stereotypical oasis. I was so excited to come here because I was going to try sand boarding for the first time! We all got into 2 big sand buggies and strapped in. I have never ever been so thankful for a seatbelt in my life. We went so fast up and down and around the dunes and it was like being on a roller coaster ride but you didn’t know what was coming next because there are no tracks! We must have done this crazy driving for a good few kilometres before we stopped to take some pictures and then go down our first dune. Most of us sat down for the first one as that’s what we were advised and we all cheered each other on as we went down, especially those who were nervous. The buggies met us at the bottom and then took us to the next ones. In total we did 4; one seated, two lying down and one standing (although I struggled back up the hill after the last one so I could do the standing one again. Somehow, the first time I stood I did really well and went right to the bottom but the second time I got hit by a gust of wind as I was starting and it threw me completely until I fell backwards at the bottom. On the way back, we had a fast buggy and a slow buggy as some didn’t like the roller coaster like journey. I went in the fast one and it was so so so much fun! My shoulders hurt a little bit from the seatbelt after and I nearly lost my hat but it was worth it!
We got back to the hotel that does the sand boarding and had lunch, did some sunbathing and we had a swim in their pool. I really wanted to go for a proper swim but equally didn’t want to get my hair wet. I am really missing doing proper exercise other than just waking and hiking so I’m hoping that in Asia we will be able to stay in hostels occasionally that have a gym.
The next stop on our road trip was to Ica in the region of Pisco. We have been drinking pisco and pisco sours for a few weeks now but this was our chance to see how it is made and what else you can do with it. We visited the Lagares winery at La Ruta del Pisco and a man told us all about the process. They use 4 types of grapes and 5-6 workers will stand on them as part of a festival. They will also have all the beautiful girls of Ica walk on them and they will have a dame of the festival each year. After 2 weeks of fertilisation, they have a young wine called Cachina (which is the wine Kike shared with us at Arequipa station). After more fertilisation underground, they can filter the wine. The first 10% of produce is about 80-90% alcohol and the last 10% of produce is about 12% alcohol and they are only ever used for cleaning. Pure pisco is about 42-45%.
We then got to taste some produce. We had 2 types of wine which were both quite sweet and one was nicknamed ‘the baby maker’ because you get very drunk from it. We then all braved a shot of pisco pure which was foul. Finally, we had a bailies like drink which was nicer. There was much much more as well that we could buy but I didn’t want the hassle of sending it back to England so I bought myself a cup of pisco ice cream instead.
In the afternoon we turned the bus into a party bus again with Amy’s throwback playlist until we arrived in Paracas. I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally be seeing the sea. Like Nazca, it was still so warm in the evening when we went out for dinner and I had a seafood paella with 2-4-1 mojitos. I felt like I was on holiday in Alicante again and it felt good. After a few more drinks on a rooftop terrace, we headed back and got a good nights sleep before an early start.
The next morning we woke up bright and early and met Pablo who took us to the port for a boat tour to the Ballestas islands. These islands have been dubbed as being like the Galápagos Islands and as we’re so jealous of the people heading there after this tour, we couldn’t turn it down. On the islands we saw sea lions, seals, penguins and a hell of a lot of birds! It was all so pretty to look at and we also saw the odd starfish and crab which was cool. The only downside was that the locals on the boat didn’t stay in or even near their seat and were just getting in the way of all our photos and talking really loud over the tour guide – both the English and Spanish description so we all got off feeling glad we went but agitated and feeling like we hadn’t learnt as much as we’d hoped to.
To relieve ourselves of this stress we headed to the pool and splashed out cares away before getting a 4 hour bus to Lima.
It was very weird arriving in Lima because we all knew that this would be our last night all together. We’ve all become so close as a group and it was strange to think that soon everyone will be going home or going on to other travels.
We arrived at our hotel in Barranco and after freshening up we went for an hour walk to and around Miraflores. Lima is a beautiful costal city and very westernised in comparison to other places we’ve been in the last 37 days. There was a massive shopping mall with everything in it, amazing coastal views and beautiful blocks of flats. One flat in particular caught our attention and then Dennis told us he was thinking about putting an offer down for it! I hope he gets it because it’s incredible!
For dinner we went to a nice restaurant that served really good seafood. I think my meal was called a Tuca Tuca and it was rice and beans together with mixed seafood and a sauce on the side. It was so so good and I wish I could go back there and have it again!
To celebrate the end of our trip, all of us headed out for drinks one last time. We had all been drinking at the restaurant and then went down a road full of bars. We went into one place as a guy offered us all a free Chilcano or pisco sours each and had a dance on our own before heading to another bar and then going for karaoke. By this point, we were all feeling karaoke but the place had a 40 soles minimum spend (about £10) and that would get us 2 drinks. Some people didn’t want to spend that much, some people didn’t want to drink that much so we left (after Emily and I had taken 100 sneaky selfies in the private room!) and went to the flying dog hostel. Here we had more drinks, requested songs, played pool, Milou became a bartender and we all had a great last time together before McDonald’s and bed.
The next morning, Dennis came out with me to get my bag fixed as it had been broken on the journey in a way that it didn’t shut properly. We found a little dodgy looking place but she fixed it for me for only 5 soles (£1.25) and Ammun and I could do a big sort out of our stuff.
At midday, we all met in the lobby to say our goodbyes and it was actually quite sad! I know a few of he Australians are visiting/moving to London so I’ll see them again and hopefully I’ll see Milou in Holland and Martina and Andrea in Switzerland for some skiing but everyone else I don’t know! Maybe I need to do a sofa-hopping road trip down the east coast of Australia one day!
Our last day in Lima was relatively uneventful. We spent 2 hours (and a lot of money) finding a post office and then sending our walking boots, warm clothes and souvenirs home and then treated ourselves to more traditional Peruvian food aka dunkin’ donuts and a subway.
We finally arrived at Casa Aika, our last hotel for the night and somehow ended up in the King suite! I got a traditional Peruvian telepizza for dinner and sat and ate it in bed whilst watching Netflix on the massive tv. Best Netflix and chill to date.
We prepared ourselves for the long journey ahead the next day and got such a good nights sleep in our massive bed. 40 hours, 12 time zones and countless airplane meals later, we have arrived at our next destination and I’m so excited for the next section of this trip!
I have enjoyed South America so much. I’ve loved learning about new cultures, trying loads of new foods and doing it all with a great group of people and 2 great tour guides. There is still so much more of Latin America that I want to see and experience but for now, I feel like I’ve done a good chunk. I think the only thing that has tinted it has been that I kept thinking that I wish my family were here to experience it with me. I know my dad would love to see all the sights and take bzillions of pictures, my mum would love to try all the food – especially the Pachamanca, Will would love all the high adrenaline activities and Dan would love the history and cheap alcohol. Maybe one day….