Doing Lines

So Nasca was surprisingly good then considering I wasn’t planning on spending much time there. I figured I’d part with a painful sum of cash to fly over the famous Nasca lines then bus it straight through to Arequipa to walk off the anguish of spending so much bloody money on a 20 minute flight. However, Stefanie and Wayne had gone to Nasca the night before me, found a nice hostel and negotiated a wicked deal on two tours to leave as soon as I arrived in the town. I like tours and I like deals even more so no sooner had I dumped my backpack we were off to look at some aqueducts with an archaeologist and tour guide called Janssen.

Cantalloc Aqueduct. Not just a pretty spiral.

When people think of Nasca they either think “where the fuck is Nasca?” or they think ancient lines in the desert but it actually has some pretty cool stuff if you like old shit and dead things which I do. Not in a Lock Up Your Mortuaries kinda way y’understand, I don’t stalk graveyards in the dead of night with a shovel in one hand and a tube of lube in the other. Anyway. The Cantalloc Aqueducts are holes in the ground leading to a small, man made stream that channels water to the otherwise arid area. They’re probably the most photogenic aqueducts I’ve seen, not that I make a point of searching out aqueducts, but they have a ramp that spirals into the ground so when you’re carrying a sod off great big ceramic urn full of water you can carry it up a gentle slope as opposed to steps which, as the ancient cultures were aware of, are prone to erosion. Clever init.

Not the best view of Los Manos; The Hands. But it’s your best bet if you’re on a tight budget.

After a quick butchers at some Inca ruins we headed off to learn about the Nasca culture itself and the German woman who drew the government’s attention to the lines and drawings criss-crossing the desert thus stopping them from destroying hundreds of years worth of tourist attraction. Maria Reiche studied the lines for 50 years because the Playstation hadn’t been invented and she was clearly bored. We went and had a look at the museum attached to the room she used to live in all those years ago, the lines were her life, everything in the room was geared towards studying.

She lived and breathed them and still we don’t know exactly why they were put there in the first place or even how when they’re so vast you can only see them properly from the air. We did have a look at two of the drawings from the Torre Metalica though, you get an elliptical view of los manos (the hands) and el arbol (the tree) which is pretty cool but I was still wanting a flight over them because I’m hopelessly attracted to overpriced excursions.

Seems I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time zooming around sand dunes in a buggy recently.

Talking of paying ridiculous amounts for tours, the next day I found myself sat in another buggy on my way to yet more piles of sand with a Dutch couple but this tour was a bit different to Huacachina on account of the fact it was a bit more of a drive to get there and we stopped at a ruined temple and an ancient, ransacked graveyard on the way. Oh, and the dunes were bigger, the buggy was faster and the driver was a nutter, the perfect combination to ensure an afternoon of fun resulting in a large portion of Peru’s desert lodging itself in various orifices.

Ransacked graves.

Buuuuut back to this graveyard. As previously mentioned I like dead stuff. Skulls are cool, it’s an image I’ve never grown out of which is definitely a good thing on account of the fact I had several tattooed on various parts of my body an unnamed number of years ago. The mummies, tattered clothing, hair, bones and broken ceramics are scattered across the desert with no attempt to gather them into one place which means its a photographic free for all, you can set them up however you want. Yay-ness. A good sandboarding session and a desert sunset later we waved the dunes goodbye. If I had to do it again I reckon I could have lived without visiting Huacachina, I reckon it’s heaps better here in the dusty, oft-avoided town of Nasca.

The metal tower, the hands and the tree from the air.

A couple of months back, a tourist plane flying over the Lineas de Nasca took a nosedive and crashed. You’d think that this would mean a drop in the price of flights in a bid to keep the gringos flying, something like that happens and everyone gets scared and stops spending money. But no. What actually happened was, the authorities grounded all of the planes and issued a new list of strict regulations and if these regulations weren’t met the company simply wasn’t provided with aviation fuel thus rendering their aircraft pretty fucking useless unless they found a way to hook it up to a team of condors or nine magical reindeer fronted by one that looked like it had been up all night snorting coke. Out of the twelve companies operating out of Nasca, only three could meet the regulations meaning that these three companies could pretty much charge whatever they damn well pleased which, when I was there, was around US$90. Ouch.

But what the fuck, you’re only in Nasca once, right? So off I went to catch a plane. It’s an awesome flight anyway, the landscape is so striking, it almost renders the lines themselves obsolete. After take off they begin by circling la ballena, the whale. They bank one way and then the other so the plane is tipped on its side enabling a direct view of the lines from the windows. They circle the trapezoids then they circle the dog then they circle the monkey and the condor and the humming bird and for the love of the god of clean upholstery can you please stop circling the fucking spider?!

The advice if you do this flight, and I do recommend you do this flight, is to take a morning flight, avoid breakfast unless you want to leave it as a gift for the cleaner and swallow a travel sickness pill. I did all three so I was okay in the end. If I hadn’t I’d have been leaving my stomach contents on the back of the pilot’s head.

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Nasca, Peru
Stayed at: Hostel Nasca Trails II

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