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).

Lima Peru

We’ve become pretty accustomed to long drives on the trip, but the week long dash through northern Peru to Lima tested us. To spur us on, we had a friend flying into Lima for a two week visit.

When we picked up George from the airport the following day, I was outnumbered 2 Bulgarian Georges to 1 Canadian Teresa. I took the back seat and let the boys happily gab away in Bulgarian. George arrived with a suitcase of goodies in tow: car parts for George and kitchen toys for me. It is a well excepted practice to laden any visitors with whatever you might need from the North. My wonderful mother can attest to this after I forced her to jam packs of our favorite coffee in their limited luggage.


This girl is happy with the new toys.

Lima is perched above the pacific ocean and boasts a good swell and paragliding over the beach. We settled into a hostel in the heart of the safe and trendy Miraflora neighborhood which borders the beach.

Lima is chock-full of high quality museums. Forced to cherry pick, we decided on Museo Larco, private and impeccably run. Although the Georges claimed they were interested in the historical artifacts, I call bullshit. I believe they were drawn to the pre-Colombian erotica exhibit.

Sundays in Peru do not appear to be the day of rest they are in Canada and the US. To stumble on some Sunday festival is as easy as stepping outside and moving your feet. Our feet lead us through one of the central squares past yet another catholic procession to a food festival. The area was set up perfectly for street performers, there were tens of small circular performing areas for the crowds to be drawn into.

Typically, we try to avoid tourists attractions like Lima’s new Circuito Magico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit). George I. however is a little bit obsessive about water fountains, so it seemed like the perfect activity. I have to say, the 13 fountain circuit is delightful and best visited in the evening so you can take in the lights and pyrotechnics.

On our way out of Lima heading toward a desert oasis, we made time to snap a few pics of the city.