Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A day in the desert

Mummies at Nazca
Change of plan for today, instead of going to the Paracas National Park, we went to Huacachina to do some sand duning instead.

But first we had another early start, setting off at 6:45 to visit the cemetery in Nazca.  The cemetery dates to the ancient Nazca tribe that they believe was responsible for creating the Nazca lines.  Unfortunately the cemetery was first found by grave robbers, so any valuable items were taken and the bodies were casually abandoned in the desert sand.  It was some fifty years before the authorities decided to do something about it and reconstructed some of the tombs to preserve the historical site.
Nazca mummy

The Nazcans had built little stone rooms to bury their dead and mummified the bodies in the foetal position.  It is believed that they thought that there is an afterlife, as they left food and other items that the dead might need.  There are around four hundred tombs in the cemetery, but about thirteen have been restored and are left open to view, with just a basic wooden shelter built over the top.  The mummified remains gave been placed back into the tombs although of course there is no way of knowing of they are in the right ones.  There is also the strange sight where they have occasionally left the odd bone or bit of cotton wadding just lying on the sand.

Huacachina - desert oasis
Our next stop was the lookout tower for the Nazca lines.  Obviously those of us who had taken the flight the day before had already had a much better view, but for those who hadn't, this was their one opportunity to see the lines.

From there we drove on to Huacachina, arriving in time to have lunch.  Huacachina is a little town built around a lake.  It used to be fed by a natural spring, so the place was a kind of spa town with supposed healing powers, but now the spring has dried up and the lake is maintained artificially.  But it still features on the back of a 50 Soles note.

Sand buggying in Huacachina
These days the place is mainly a base for people to go and play in the  world's largest sand dunes.  Which is precisely why we were there.

Once the main heat of the sun had died down, we waved goodbye to the two who had decided not to go, and set off in the sandbuggies.  Our drivers are expert in speeding over the dunes, so it was a real rollercoaster ride.

After a while, we stopped sand duning and brought out the boards.  We were perched at the top of quite a large and very steep dune. Three of the group decided that this wasn't for them, but the rest of us lined up at the edge of the dune.

Me, part way down the first dune
Looking down, it felt like an almost vertical drop.  It wasn't, but it can't have been more than a 30 degree angle. It seemed to me that there was no way that when you got to the bottom of the hill, you wouldn't just end up stuck head first in the sand.  But the first person to go made it down safely, so we all followed on.

It was great fun.  Lying down on the board, half hanging over the edge and waiting to be pushed off was a but nervy, but when the push came, the adrenalin kicked in and I loved it.

Nic starting the first dune
Nic and I both made it safely down the first one, and happily the buggies come and collect us all for the next one so we don't have to walk back up.

The second was higher, and though we didn't realise it from the top, there was a small uphill bit at the end.

Nic at the end of dune three

The third had a big downhill, then plateaued briefly before going down again for a short run.  This one caused us some trouble.Nic because he came to a halt on the plateau and had to launch himself off the edge of the second downhill, and me because I rolled at the bottom of the first hill and came off entirely.  I also had to launch from the second edge myself.

Me, just before my tumble

The fourth was a higher and steeper slope again, and this time Nic came a cropper.  He rolled several times at the bottom of  the slope and came off.  He hurt his hand a bit, but is otherwise OK.  Both of us are a bit bruised and achy though!  But bruises aside, it was great fun and we really enjoyed doing it.

Sunset at Huacachina
After a quick stop to watch the sunset over the dunes, we got back in the buggies for a short ride to our camp for the night.  The guys had set up a firepit, barbecue and stools and had piscolas (pisco & cokes) ready for us.  

We had an excellent meal of beef kebabs, chicken, sausage and vegetables.  When the piscolas eventually ran out they had some beers available too, so we were able to carry on around the fire well into the evening. 
A sandy us in Huacachina

Now you would think that Sharif would have learnt his lesson on betting Sophie about food, but apparently not.  He did it again, this time about a plate of vegetables.  After much negotiation - or more accurately dispute - between the two parties representatives, a plateful of food was prepared, a forty minute time limit agreed, and TJ elected as time keeper.  Sophie started well, but faltered towards the end and just failed to shovel down the last bits in the allotted time.  This was a contentious matter, so on the end it was agreed that both Sharif and Sophie would do the forfeit of naked sandboarding, but without an audience.  By this time the cold desert evening had set in, and we all know that sand gets everywhere, so neither was that thrilled.  You would think this might make them think again in future but somehow I doubt it!

Desert barbeque at Huacachina
Gradually we all turned in for the night, which just meant getting into our sleeping bags under the stars.  We were assured by T J that we would wake up early with the sun and heat.  But that wasn't quite true.  In fact we woke up to a heavy fog that made everything quite damp and cold.  And TJ was nowhere to be seen.  With the rest of us ready to go, people were dispatched to find him; they evenually tracked him down and brought him back a bit dazed and still half asleep.

So back to the town for a very welcome breakfast before setting off for Lima.

1 comment:

  1. Looks good! I'm sure the naked sandboarding would have ended up being censored though!


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