We have picked up the pace again, spending a couple of nights in Peru’s desert, visiting the Nazca lines in a tiny tin can of a plane and finally arriving in Lima where we baked enough cookies to feed the 5000!
After our two weeks of lazing around Arequipa waiting for Oscars’ passport and stomach bug to pass we were going a bit crazy and needed to get moving again. Instead of heading East, as planned, to the Atacama desert in Northern Chile we went West to Huacachina. This is mainly because it is far less expensive but also we now have restrictions on where we can travel due to Oscars’ emergency passport. We can only go to Chile, Canada and the UK, which are the countries we have to transit to get home on December 1st. If we went to the Atacama it would be to visit the Salt Flats which are actually just inside Bolivia meaning Oscar wouldn’t be able to come, which would be pointless!
When I visited Huacachina four years ago it was a small lagoon in the desert surrounded by really impressive sand dunes and one ring of restaurants, hostels and tour shops. There were maybe fifteen dune buggies operating and come sunset the desert went quiet and you could watch it in peace. Now, Huacachina is a buzzing, never silent, mecca for thrill seeking travellers. There is a second ring of restaurants and small businesses forming around the lagoon and the desert never seems to be empty of the buggies racing around like ants over the dunes!
We got to have a go in the buggies when we took a sand boarding lesson on our first afternoon. Neither of us could board before but we are pretty confident that we could have a go on snow now, the dunes are so steep – much more so than a green or blue run on a mountain. We fell a lot but by the end could board down with some grace. In between the different runs the buggy would tear around making us scream and bounce around in the back – so much fun!
The next day we woke up early to catch the local bus to Nazca – about two hours away – and head to the tiny airport. It was so small it had two gates and they were the same double door! We got into a small, toylike plane and with four other people we had a half hour flight above the Nazca lines. They were so much better than I expected, I thought I wouldn’t really be able to make any of the shapes out and that they wouldn’t be distinct enough. However, they were so easy to spot, the plane circled around them in each direction once so we all got a really good view of them. Oscars favourite was the Alien but I think I liked the Humming bird best. It was crazy seeing the Pan American Highway cutting straight through the Lizard even though they are a UNESCO heritage sight! The flight was incredible but also so uncomfortable – before we went up we were told to ‘not panic’, apparently some people pass out but luckily we just felt really really sick. We couldn’t speak we felt so unwell and when we got out we both said if there had been one more loop it wouldn’t have ended so well!
We made it back to Huacachina just as the sun was setting and decided to hike up the sand dune behind our hostel to see the sun go down. It was quite the hike! Sand is difficult to walk in anyway and then it was so steep that every footstep caused a shift in the sand so it took twice as many steps to get up. Finally we got up and were rewarded by a pretty epic view.
We had booked a flight from Lima to Santiago for the 23rd November and so the next day we set off again, this time in a luxury bus after Oscar decided we deserved a comfortable journey especially since it should be our last! Our hostel in lima was amazing and had a great kitchen so we spent the next three days cooking all our meals at home and baking endless peanut butter cookies. Cooking and good food in general is what we are missing the most here. All the food is so starchy and stodgy and all we want is some yummy food – I have already put in an order with my sister for when I get back, lots of salad and hummus!
Lima is a pretty great city, its on the coast and there were a lot of surfers walking about, its also full of skyscrapers and impressive apartment blocks. We decided to head to the cinema on our first night and saw ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them’ which was excellent!.
Next up we head back to Santiago for our final few days in South America, Oscars birthday and a short trip to Valparaiso – the quaint little coastal town just outside of Santiago.