We traveled to Nazca, Peru in 2013. Our goal, of course, was to see the Nazca Lines, but we didn’t expect to like the little town in southern Peru as much as we did. When we first arrived, we didn’t know there were other cool things to see in the area besides the Nazca Lines, or that there would be cool people to meet. From beginning to end, the experience made us want to go back to Nazca someday. Perhaps we’ll go through Nazca on our upcoming Pan American trip that we’ll start in 2017.
We traveled via bus from Lima, Peru and stayed at a little bed and breakfast near the city center. The town is very walkable, but Raul, from Nazca Trips came to pick us up in a van the day after our arrival to take us outside of the city to see the Cahuachi ruins, the Chauchilla Cemetery, and of course, the Nazca Lines.
Our first stop was the airport in Nazca. We wanted to do a Nazca Lines tour, of course. This involves a flight over
the desert in a little prop plane. John and Lydian were more nervous about going up in the plane than I was since neither of them had ever been up in a little plane before. A woman, a stranger to us, who was traveling solo went up in the plane with us. We didn’t crash. And it wasn’t scary AT ALL.
The Nazca Lines are a big question-mark, but the desert is unquestionably amazing. Unlike other deserts in the world with shifting dunes and sandstorms, the Atacama Desert is so dry and inert that a person can place stones on the ground and draw lines that will last a veritable eternity. To see the giant drawings from above is thought-provoking, but definitely not for people who get motion-sickness. There’s a lot of tight circling in the plane above each of the Nazca Lines. If you’re prone to puking on planes, don’t forget to take your Dramamine.
After the lines, we headed to the Chauchilla Cemetery, which could be hard to appreciate without a good guide. In 2013, Raul Palomino hadn’t started Nazca trips yet. Rather, he was working solo as an Official Tourism Guide in Nazca. He spoke English really well, but we switched back and forth between English and Spanish so that we could practice our skills. He was one of those people that listens and tries to understand what you’re saying, so he was a good practice buddy. And he was passionate about Nazca. This is something rare and strange that I haven’t ever seen in the United States: a person who’s passionate about a place, but still curious about what’s “out there” beyond Nazca.
As the sun was setting in the desert, Raul took us to the Cahuachi Ruins, a middle-of-nowhere destination, the leftovers of a once prosperous civilization. As dusk fell across the landscape with sweeping blues, reds, and oranges cast across the hills, the wind picked up. Raul talked about a woman who had come to Nazca to meditate. He showed us the cryptic lines left in the sand from where she sat.
In the distance, Cerro Blanco, the distinctive sand dune that stands sentinel on the outskirts of the city, glowed in the final light of the day as a full moon rose on the eastern horizon. What had started as the beginning of a day full of mundane tourist attractions, ended as a magical memory.
We headed back to town after it was almost dark.
Normally, we don’t hire guides, but in some places in Peru, a guide is necessary and extremely helpful. Nazca is one of those places. It isn’t easy to find the Cahuachi ruins or the Chauchilla Cemetery on your own. And it helps to have a guide to reserve a flight to see the Nazca lines too. And further, in a small town like Nazca, your guide is not only a source of information, but also an instant “friend” in the community.
Raul Palomino started Nazca trips in 2016. Contact him via email at any of the following:
Or visit his web site for more information.