Whilst tour agencies aren’t really our style, when we realised the price to book Nazca Lines flights was pretty much the same as paying in Nazca and included transfer to Ica bus terminal, pick up on arrival in Nazca, and transfers the to and from the airport the following day, the savings in time outweighed the insignificant extra commission and we went ahead and booked.
Things looked good when our taxi driver picked us up on time…but then he tried to drop us on the wrong side of a busy highway in Ica, after which our pickup failed to arrive in Nazca leaving us to find our own way to our hostel. When the transfer driver never arrived at 9am the next day (‘we didn’t know that hostel so just didn’t bother’), we remembered why we avoid travel agencies.
To make matters worse, when we arrived in Nazca at 10pm the hostel had never heard of us (Sarah had accidentally booked for August not May), and when we finally found a vacant room (at four times the price as a huge event was taking place and all the cheap rooms were full) Matt realised he’d left our passports on the bus…which was now on its way to the Chilean border…8 hours away. As we could only take the flights with passports in hand we had to cancel for the day (not that we’d been picked up anyway). You’ll why Matt, not a big fan of small planes, was feeling we were being sent a sign from the big man in the sky to can the whole thing.
But nobody comes to Nazca to stay grounded, so with Cruz del Sur sending our passports back on that nights bus, we rescheduled our flights without penalty, made sure the driver knew where and when to pick us up tomorrow morning and settled into our super pink hotel room at Kunanwasi for a relaxing day of blogging and bad Peruvian TV. There’s plenty of street food stalls which pop up of an evening, and if you wander the busy streets you’ll get cheap eats with the locals, including massive filling plates of noodles.
In true Peruvian customer service form, our driver arrived 30 minutes early and demanded that we be ready to leave. We made him wait, so he disappeared and came back an hour later. The airport’s only a short drive away and after checking in, paying the balance of our flights and swapping relieved looks that we were with reputable Aero Nasca, we barely waited 10 minutes before we were on the tarmac trying to pretend we hadn’t heard how often these flights crash (so often in fact it doesn’t usually make it past the local paper).
As we take off and head into the desert, Matt spends most of the 30 minute flight torn between holding on for dear life or snapping pics out the window. He opts for the former when with wings dipped at a 45 degree angle to point out the famous monkey, the pilot lets go of the controls and leans over the co-pilots seat to point for us, ensuring we can all see it. All except for Matt whose staring ahead ready to smack the bastard out if he doesn’t put both hands back on the controls.
The lines were made by removing the top layer of red stones to reveal the grey earth beneath with the largest measuring up to 200m. Giant astronomical calendar, water pointers, symbols for the gods? The fact that nobody knows is what gives the lines such an air of mystery.
The flight is filled with stomach dropping dips and turns as the light aircraft, which seems to hit every bump of turbulence in the area, swaps sides allowing everybody a chance to view the images such as The Astronaut, Pelican, the famous Hummingbird and some creepy looking Hands.
Safely back on the tarmac, Matt swears off small planes for the rest of his life and we’re happy to see our driver is still in the carpark to take us back to town. We had a cheap lunch in the middle of town at Restaurante La Fortaleza, a place with a dirt floor, a bamboo roof, no walls and no change (as always). We then picked up dessert from a small corner stall where the lemon meringue pie looks better than it tastes and costs less than it looks.
For dinner we can recommend the huge avocado salads at La Taberna where you can spend the time waiting for your meal reading the writing on the walls left by travellers before you. Packing our bags we head to swanky Mom’s Cafe where dessert comes in the form of Oreo cheesecake and a real strawberry shake before our overnight bus for Arequipa.
Good thing we indulged here, as we obviously hadn’t been thinking of indulgence when we booked these tickets. Only a ‘short’ 7 hour trip meant we opted for the much cheaper Civa Bus, leaving the luxury of Cruz del Sur way WAY behind. With Matt loading the packs, Sarah boards the bus with immediate regret. All faces are looking her way and the smell of BO, piss, shit, vomit and too many tightly packed unwashed bodies assaults her senses. Our first words as we squeeze ourselves into our seats are
If we’re gonna get robbed on a bus, it’s gonna be this one!
For the next seven hours our camera bags didn’t leave our laps, the woman behind Sarah’s knees didn’t leave the back of her seat and Matts earplugs didn’t leave his ears. Yet they still couldn’t drown out the sound of somebodies alarm going off for four hours in the middle of the night and a 4am shouted phone conversation. Needless to say we were not at all rested when we arrived in Arequipa at sunrise.