The road to Cuzco Peru

Mile-by-mile as we move toward another considerable milestone, I feel a heavy foreboding. The task of planning out the details inevitably overshadows the early excitement for me. Such was the case as we moved toward Cuzco Peru and the journey to Machu Pichu.

The drive from the coast east into Cuzco was memorable in itself, passing through small villages and a Vicuña reserve. It took us two long days of driving to reach Cuzco, but the days were not without some hijinks.

Because we couldn’t be sure on when we would arrive in Cuzco, nothing was booked. It took us an afternoon to do a little dance of securing tickets to Machu Pichu and Huanapichu (a peak overlooking Machu Pichu) and decide on the route (drive to Santa Teresa through the Sacred Valley and hike to Aguas Calientes). Details settled, I could finally enjoy the city.

Looking past Cuzco’s overabundance of aggressive touts and high-priced alpaca products sold from trendy shops, you find yourself in a city with a fascinating history. Cuzco rises from the historic center. During the day, the streets are punctuated with colorful traditional prints while at night the hills surrounding the city are peppered in light.

The ruins of Sacsayhuaman sit atop the city and offer panoramic views of the city albeit for a very steep entrance fee. To be honest, i’d probably skip this in the future.

In a Cuzco campground, we exposed the innards of Vida and took the opportunity to finish some projects at long last. It was an organized sort of chaos.

Ground shaking adventures in Nazca Peru

Strange, the ground is shaking. Looking around, I notice the airport staff fleeing out into the blinding desert sunshine. I should track down my boyfriend and travel companion – he’d be looking for me. He wasn’t. I found the Georges by Vida watching the distant dust clouds in the city and surrounding mountains.

We had just experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake at the airport in Nazca Peru. Conferring with airport staff, we learned there was thankfully only minor damage in the nearby town.

Half an hour later, we would be boarding our 7-seater prop plane to fly over the Nazca lines, a ancient set of extensive and mind-bending geoglyphs etched into the Nazca desert. The flight lasted about 45 minutes and took us over the majority of the lines as well as the agueducts, which are optional. Standouts for me were the hummingbird and “astronaut”. On the way back from the airport, our guide asked us if we wanted to have some fun. I knew immediately what he meant and stubbornly kept shaking my head since I was already very close to loosing my lunch. Mercifully, he got the message.

After the flight we paid a quick visit to some Peruvian ancients at Chauchilla Cemetery. Grave robbers had walked off with the treasures long ago leaving the remains exposed to the desert elements which has preserved them alarmingly well. Bonus points go to the many feet of preserved braided hair.

Some practical information about the Nazca lines:

The Tower

Driving toward Nazca, you’ll encounter a tower that overlooks some of the lines which you can climb for a small fee. If you’re planning to take the flight, the tower is definitely not worth the time or money. If you are not taking the flight, it’s debatable but will only set you back something like 2 soles.


Hotel Maison Suisse directly across from the Nazca airport hosts overlanders.


The Nazca flights have a terrible reputation of being unsafe. A friendly person in Huacachina filled us in on the history of the flights and the safety record. There had been a number of accidents (plane crashes) up until a few years ago when the Peruvian government moved in and shut down all the unsafe carriers. What remains are three carriers and a number of agencies that you can book through.

Flights & Fees

We flew with Alas Peruanas, but booked through one of the agencies at the airport. There seems to be no reason to book ahead. We also found after some price comparison that everyone is offering similar prices but the agencies as opposed to the carriers seem to offer more wiggle room in terms of prices when trying to fill a plane in our experience. Also keep in mind that there is an additional 20 soles airport tax.

Motion Sickness

Take the pills.

Sandboarding and a dune buggy ride in Huacachina Peru

I was only half listening when the Georges told me we would be going to a desert oasis. I imagined some hotel in the middle of the desert claiming to be an oasis for weary travellers, but the tiny village of Huacachina lived up to the claim. Huacachina is situated around a natural lake and surrounded by sand dunes.

There are only two reasons to visit Huacachina: you need a break from the harsh dessert environment that is the northern Peruvian coast and/or you want an adrenaline rush in the form of sandboarding and a dune buggy ride.

Unfortunately for the other passengers in our buggy, I snagged the seat beside the driver. The first crest that the driver came barreling up to and almost plummeting down elicited a high pitch wail from me followed by a lot of chuckling from the driver. The group quickly realized that the dune crests would be part of the ride. This didn’t stop the driver from continuing to try and make me scream though. We would ride a sand rollercoaster for the next couple of hours.

Between spins in the buggy, we tried our hand at sandboarding. Absolutely easier than volcano boarding, but we all still managed some pretty impressive bailouts with the exception of George M. who handled the dunes like a boss.


Paracas, we will meet again

We visited Paracas National Reserve on the coast of Peru for a few hours on our way south along the coast. It was difficult to hop back in the truck and pull away from the dramatic landscapes and opportunities to get truly remote. Paracas is definitely one of the places I’ll hit on the A2P reunion tour (the places we missed or spent too little time).