BootsnAll Travel Network

Nazca and Huacachina

Nazca is an area described by a Quechua word that means “suffering” because the ancient people had little water in this part of the world. It is in the Peruvian desert, a place notable for mysterious shapes marked into the landscape by removing dark-colored stones and exposing the lighter sand underneath. We didn´t know Peru had such a desert; we figured Peru- Machu Picchu and jungle. Wrong.

Anyway, the drawings in the desert are huge, somewhere on the order of football field size. The spooooohhoooooky part is that noone can say for sure why they are there. They can only be recognized from the air, so they went undiscovered until the 1930s when some pilots noticed them. The lines are supposed to be from the time of the Nazca people, or maybe the Paracas people, or maybe little green beings from Mars. There are many theories of their significance, from solar/lunar calendar, religious ritual walkways, indicators of scarce water in the desert, etc. My vote is an enterprising individual made them to draw tourists into an otherwise stark landscape and boost the local economy. Sure, sure, you say, Dan, you are such a skeptic.

Mysterious desert lines

We took a 5-seater Cessna to have a look at the lines from the air. It is the thing to do in Nazca. I normally enjoy things with engines that move quickly, however, the 35 minute flight was about 31 minutes too long. The plane makes a circle around each figure, banking hard so the people on one side of the plane can get a good look at the shapes of animals and plants etched below. Then, after the three people on one side have a good look, the pilot throws the plane into a hard banking turn the other way so the two people on the other side of the plane can have a look-see. This was fun for the first two figures. I believe there were 19 figures total. I held my camera up to the window while I focused my eyes on the horizon in the hope of not throwing up all over the back of the Brazilian guy sitting in front of me. Yes, the word Nazca means “suffering.”

Please, kill me

Above is a picture of me nazcaing and below is a picture of Giselle nazcaing.

No more Big Macs

Party hearty backpacker

There is a museum in the town of Ica which displays oddities of ancient cultures for our pleasure. The ancient desert dwellers were entombed in the desert in sacred rituals so one day I could pay a dollar to take their photographs. Above is an incredibly well preserved mummy that bears a spooohooooky resemblence to some of the backpackers staying at an especially noisy hostel that G and I referred to as “Porky´s.”


The archeologists say that the ancients would partake in the practice of skull-shape manipulations. Ancient photographs show young children with large rocks strapped to their foreheads in order to create these cone-shaped skulls. I am no dummy. Mysterious lines in the desert visible only from the air and skulls of space aliens. Duh.


Huacachina is a town in the middle of the sand dunes. It is an oasis really. We had never seen such a thing, except in the movies. No camels, but this little lake had palm trees in it and it was completely surrounded by sand dunes. It only lost a little bit of its magic when the guy at the hotel told us that water is pumped into the lake every week to keep it from drying up.


Huacachina is an ancient word that means, “Holy cr@@, I am going to die in this desert because I foolishly paid for a dune buggy tour with a completely insane driver.” When I first heard about dune buggy rides I got all excited, because like I said, I enjoy things with motors that move quickly. After we paid and walked towards the line of three dune buggies, the guy asks, “Do you want to go with the high adrenaline, medium adrenaline, or the low adrenaline driver?” Well, duh, give me the adrenaline. Giselle, the foolish sport that she is, agreed. I figured how much adrenaline could be produced from a dune buggy that seats nine! people and sounds like it needs a serious tune-up. Plus, the driver was filling the radiator with water from a bottle that clearly had been doing this duty for a long time. Yeehaw, I figured the adrenaline was going to be required to push this sorry vehicle back to Porky´s after it died pulling away. Can I get my money back if I have to walk back?

The driver slammed the jalopy into gear with a clunk and then the snorting contraption jerked forward. It was pleasant enough as we squished up the first dune past the scattering of people who had walked into the mountains of sand and gave up after trudging until overcome with sweat or lust (quite a bit of making out amongst the locals). After the crowd thinned out to nothing, the lunatic behind the wheel (not me this time) was cleared for take-off.

I could not believe how fast that machine could go with 1500 pounds of human cargo. I was still doing math in my head. Then Mr. Insane pointed the buggy up a dune. Up, up, up. Oh my gawd, down, down, down. This isn´t right! We are going to die. Next dune, waaaay up. You got it, now, waaaay down. No more math in the head. Small waves of panic. Is my seatbelt tight? My previously cracked kneecap is perilously close to a frame tube. We go faster and faster. At least we are not going up a dune. Faster, faster. A dip and then bam! we hit a small dune and we go airborn. We are in the air, all nine of us and this sorry dune buggy. Bam! we slam into the sand, slipping to the right and then to the left. Who is this guy driving? I know him. He is the jerk from high school who was the first kid to get his license, pile his friends into his parents´car and try to scare everyone to death with his advanced driving skills he learned the previous week.

As terrifying as this was, it truly got the adrenaline going between trying to figure out the best way to brace for a crash while trying not to swallow too much sand as we hit highway speeds on a terrain that has wisely been crossed at camel-speed for centuries.


Now look at his smile. Do not trust your children with this guy.

Gidget of the desert

Between moments of terror in the dune buggy the driver would stop and we would get out and ride snowboards down the sand dunes. I am sure this is not helping maintain the pristine beauty of some of the largest sand dunes in the world, but it sure was fun. Everyone fell. G and I were cleaning sand from ourselves for two days!


5 Responses to “Nazca and Huacachina”

  1. mom Says:

    where are you now and do you still have a suv?

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Larry Says:

    Mom has entered the world of the internet just to see how you guys are doing. Great pictures. I hope things are going well.
    Take care,

  4. Posted from United States United States
  5. Krissy Says:

    I told you Dad says there’s a book in this trip right? There is, how cool is it that you saw a picture of your shower pal from the air, before he showed up in your hotel room? You guys are taking some breathtaking pictures and doing the coolest things ever! Giselle you rockin sand surfer you! 🙂

    Hey! where does your DC mail go to? Is it being held? k.

  6. Posted from United States United States
  7. Giselle Says:

    Krissy, a friend is getting our mail till we’re back. Thanks for the compliments. You gotta try sandboarding. Whee!

  8. Katherine Says:

    When you get back you have to dig up that old show “In Search of…” Leonard Nimoy hosted it, sometime in the 70s, and they looked into neat creepy things like the Planes of Nazca, Easter Island, Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch. All the good stuff. Sandboarding looks awesome!

  9. Posted from United States United States