Wednesday, 19 November 2014

0148 Paracas NP to Nazca

15th Nov

Woke up at 6 am on this beautiful deserted beach in Paracas National Park.  Bit of a strong smell of fish in this area, but that is to be expected – That is what Pisco does – Process fish.  Explored the seemingly abandoned hut / restaurant near us – Hmmm – A few things look fresh and lived in……….

Then I notice a head sticking up in one of the several fishing boats anchored just off shore – There is someone in there !! Gradually a few more heads appear !  Seems they were sleeping in their boats.  About 7 am a car comes down onto the beach and goes to the restaurant !  It definitely isn’t derelict or abandoned.

Then a decrepit old bus comes down to the beach and about 10 people get out and start turning ( or doing something) to the piles of seaweed on the beach – We nearly drove over it last night – Thank goodness we didn’t as it appears to be someone’s “crop” !!

Soon it is like Piccadilly Circus – And here are we in the middle of it all cooking up some eggs for breakfast !   Well, at least they are all friendly and wave to us and say “Hola” !

Eventually we leave our busy little beach and head back to the main road.  We also find the turning into the “proper” national park entrance that we should have taken last night but missed in the dark !  Oh well. 

On our way at last, we are still driving through desert as we have almost the whole way down Peru.  Never realised there was so much desert in Peru.  But through the use of irrigation and canals, they are growing a lot of “stuff” – We are passing acres and acres of vineyards, mostly hidden by a tall hedge.  Then suddenly you get desert tight next door, and for a while you pass just sandy desert. Then more grape vines.  At about 11 am we reached Ica, a centre for the wine processing and sales.  And also a centre for tuk tuks – Suddenly hundreds of them, scurrying around like a load of cockroaches.  And like cockroaches they scurry all around you – Up the inside, up the outside, weaving across in front of you through seemingly impossible gaps.  You really do have to be careful because one little tap could easily turn them on their sides ! 

As we get through Ica, Janet has found a place on the map she wants to visit – Huacachina. It is 5 kms off the road and was originally developed as a resort for well heeled Lima people at weekends.  Surrounded by high sand dunes, a lagoon in the centre provides a place to cool off, while restaurants and bars provided good food and drink.  However, over the las 20 years or so, Huacachina has become a backpackers favourite resort., and wealthy Lima residents have gone elsewhere for their weekends.  We saw the clear sign to turn left to Huacachina, and set off up the road with great expectations for a good cup of coffee and maybe lunch. But as we went up the road, we hit roadworks, then the road turned to sand, and we found ourselves in a not-so-salubrious part of town – If this was a resort for the wealthy, something had seriously gone wrong !!  Eventually, after 6 kms, we gave up and turned back, and when we hit Ica again found we had turned one street too early !  This time we took the correct street and quickly found ourselves in a much nicer area !!  The sand dunes ARE enormous, and there are walls beside the road keeping them at bay – for the meantime, anyway.  We drop into the little township, find a place to park away from all the noise and bustle of the people spruiking parking places and ice creams, and then wander around the lagoon which is full of pedalos and similar.  The lagoon is surrounded by restaurants and bars and nightclubs, and a lot of souls with dreadlocks are making and selling jewellery.  We hear and see the big 8 seat dune buggies heading over the dunes, and then find a little restaurant (“Desert Nights”) where the menu looks appetising and the beer is cold.  Starting with delicious local asparagus in parmesan cheese, and then split a burger and a salad – Very pleasant, and our waiter David, who was from the Amazon area, was great fun to chat to.  A very pleasant lunch.  We then wandered back around the lagoon, saw our second Peruvian hairless dog, chatted to one of the buggy drivers who was parked next to Troopie, and then set off back to the road south and our target of Nazco for the night.  The dunes are certainly encroaching on the town, the lagoon is looking a little green and sad, and the restaurants and bars now cater for a younger clientele than us.  But it was a very pleasant spot to stop for a short break, and like everything else in Peru, is yet another surprise when you have been driving through desert for the last 4 days or so !

Then it was back onto the Carrera Pan Americana, heading south through more sandy desert. All the way down we have been passing these small one room “houses” in the desert, often made from a kind of matting material, but sometimes of wood, and very occasionally of brick.  They seem to come in “bunches” and we have never seen anyone in them during the day time, and wondered what the deal was. We may now have found a solution – We have read that people here can “squat”, and they are given 200 square meters, and have to live there for two years, after which time they can then apply for electricity and water etc.  We are not sure if this is correct, but it does seem the like the most feasible explanation so far !

It was then just sandy desert for some time known as the Pampas de Huayuri, until suddenly there were lots of plantations of cactus and asparagus.  We then suddenly went through a really dramatic little mountain pass, although we ever went over 600 metres ASL. But the road had been carved through the rock and was truly spectacular.  We then dropped into the little valley pueblo of Pulpa, and then immediately climbed back out the other side.  After the even smaller and poorer pueblo of Lipata, we came out once again onto a plain where, 20 kms later, we came to a tower that was over looking the famous Lineas de Nazca, or Lines of Nazca.  These lines were “discovered” in 1938  by Paul Kosok, an American, who was flying over the area on an ancient irrigation search.  They are spread over 500 kms of arid, rock strewn plain, and form a striking network of more than 800 lines, 300 goemetric figures and some 70 animal and plant drawings.   For a couple of soles we climber the tower beside the road which enabled us to see a few of the closer lines – The best way to see them is by plane, but that was not on our agenda – Or in our budget !!  Fascinating nevertheless. 

From there it was in to Nazca where knew of a small hotel called La Maison Suisse which had space for camping.  When we got there we found lots of tents belonging to a big 4WD coach tour group, and also Andre and Monique from Belgium in a 4 WD Iveco motorhome who are on their way north. We chatted a little before setting up, and we under the impression that everyone was staying here one more day, so we decided to do the same and try to catch up on blog, laundry, and a few car things etc.  So after an lovely hot shower (first for a few days !), we turned in, looking forward to a lazy day tomorrow.

Pics are here

1 comment:

  1. You should have tried sliding down the sand dunes at Huacachina. Some of the group I travelled with did it - I did not. However, I did do a flight over Nazca - well worth the cost. FWIW, my web summary of my second SA trip you will find at as some of the places I visited may be of interest.