To be honest my favorite type of traveling is the independent type; I’m more built for small groups of people (inherited off my Mum?) and doing what I want when I want. That said there is definitely some big pros to group travel, one that we had really been looking forward to was putting our brains on low. We have someone to do the bulk of the thinking/organizing/worrying for us for 21 days. Terrific. Plus the last trip I was on in Africa sorted me out with a boyfriend, so I guess it’s a chance to meet some decent people. Still I always get nervous about meeting said people.
The big meeting took place in Lima, with initially only 11 of us, very quiet and civilized. Then in romped 11 others like they owned the joint being they’d already been traveling together for 3 weeks. Dinner was Peru’s national dish, and a favorite of Emmett’s, Chicken and Chips. Here we established our mix; Australians, Poms, Kiwis, Swiss, Germans and a token Korean ranging from 18 to 45, but mostly on the 18 side (God I feel old). Happily everyone seems nice enough. For now 😉
It’s nice when a city surprises you and Lima did just that. The old town has a beautiful old square surrounded by gorgeous colonial buildings. Just lovely. There are some great beachside suburbs with little shopping/eating complexes actually built into the cliffside. As you eat you can watch the surfers while para gliders swoop overhead. Our arrival also coincided with Emmett’s birthday. A great dinner ended with the waiters bringing out a cake and singing a Spanish birthday song. Very cultural.
We had decided to do an overland trip, meaning no flights (excellent), lots of time on a big truck like machine and some camping (ick). Soon enough it was time to hit the road on Rosita, our truck. Our first stop was a cruise around the ‘poor mans Galapagos’, Ballestas Islands. Being I’m not big on birds which were flapping about in abundance, and dropping ‘bombs’ everywhere, not my ideal trip though still kinda cool. One of the islands was literally black, iced with birds. The seals added even more stench to the scenario.
Our destination for the day was Huacachina, an oasis in the desert. From here we set out to an overnight desert camp. Some dune Buggys, complete with some loco drivers had us well amongst the dunes. I’ve done a couple of desert camps before so had an idea of what was to come. Turns out they do things differently in Peru. The camp was nestled in between a couple of dunes, but wasn’t a camp as such, we were sleeping under the stars. The drivers cooked up an amazing barbecue while we all refreshed ourselves with a bucket of pisco (grape brandy) sour, Perus national drink. Some huge speakers appeared out of one of the Buggys and the night continued dancing around the bonfire. Crazy fun.
Sand logged we headed for the Nazca lines. These are the many shapes/animals mysteriously carved into the desert floor. From a viewing platform I could partially see a couple, but being they are so huge one needs to take a flight over them to appreciate it. That’s all well and good but it involves a light plane. Unfortunately that is in direct conflict with my no light plane life rule (unless there is a man with a parachute strapped to me) so I had to give it a miss. I googled them instead. The number of plane crashes mentioned did not go unnoticed. Wise decision on my behalf. Especially being I lazed by the pool for the day, much needed downtime.
Relax and rejuvenated it was time for a slightly spooky stop. In the 90’s someone had unearthed a Nazca (a civilization from around the time of the incas) cemetery, Chauchilla. The whole area is desert so driving up you don’t even notice all the bones sticking out of the sand. Scattered amongst the sand and bones are pits. Looking into the first pit gave me a bit of a fright, a perfectly preserved mummy staring up at me. These are not like the mummies I’d seen in Egypt, their bodies are positioned into the fetal position (some bone breaking is needed) with their bodies wrapped in cloth but the face left bare. One of the things that freaked me out the most was the hair many of the mummies displayed. The longest dreadlocks, and I hate dreads, wrapped around the owner many times over. Gross. Maybe they were ‘in’ 500 years ago?
The night was spent camping on the beach at Puerto Inca, literally the port of the Incas. It was from here a relay team of Incas would run fresh fish to the Inca rulers. That’s a lot of running just for fish. Maybe for Chips in the throes of a severe hangover? We were Lucky enough to eat steak and veggies around the bonfire that night, made up for the fact I had to camp as the upgrade to room cost was exorbitant. I of course was happy to pay it, my room mate not so much. Have I mentioned I hate camping? Ironic I know!
Short travel days are done with. It’s time to get seriously acquainted with the truck as we make our way inland. To Arequipa, a city amongst the volcanos!
Claire was on Tucan Travel’s Inca Explorer 1