During our Peruvian adventures a few years ago, we did some pretty exciting things like quad biking in the mountains and flying over the Nazca Lines via a small aircraft. This post will touch upon the historical sites that we visited when in the deserts of Peru so although full of adventure, reader beware that there are some “not so pretty” pictures in this post! I will still take you through the exciting adventures of our sand buggy journey through the Nazca Desert but will also show you the sites of the ancient Nazca Cemetery (there will be a few pictures of mummies). I’ll even give you a glimpse of my first scary experience while in a foreign land!
Traveling to the Nazca Desert
We traveled by mini buses from Pisco to the Nazca Desert. Our mini-bus traveled first while the second mini-bus traveled close behind us. Before this trip, I had never seen a desert and the only sand that I had seen was at the beach.
We met some great friends on this journey. We swapped travel stories and talked about our lives back at home. We were giggling away until I overheard my tour guide talking in extremely fast Spanish as we appeared to be taking a detour from the main road. I peered out the window and all I could see was a line of rocks on the road that had been lit up with fire. It was designed to stop all traffic. I heard a big thud on our mini bus window, causing a sense of panic. Our tour guide, Bruno, quickly explained that the thud was due to a water balloon which had been thrown at our car. He jumped out of his seat quickly and started closing the curtains, while calmly saying “Guys, it’s very safe around here, but can you please just close your curtains, I don’t want them to see you”! Bruno told us later that he didn’t want to make it too obvious that we were tourists.
Bruno and the driver calmly exited the mini bus, while we sat inside the bus staring at each other in deathly silence. After a few moments, Bruno jumped back into the bus and with a very sorry face said “Guys, they want 12 Soles to let us pass”.
We all looked at each other in shock. It amounted to about A$4 which was definitely a bargain price to pay for our safety! We hastily handed Bruno all our coins. He gave the cash to the men outside and they let us pass peacefully. Bruno explained to us later that these men were peacefully rallying for zero road rules. The government was trying to put road rules in place, but the people were not happy with this and wanted to maintain the zero road rules policy. He said that these strikes usually happen every now and then so we should not be concerned for our safety.
I then reminded him that there was a second mini-bus behind us. Oh! He immediately asked the driver to turn around while he negotiated with the men again to let the second bus pass. The second bus gave the men 12 Soles and in return had a message written on their front window. Here is the message that caused stress amongst my friends. They had thought that they were a moving target.
At the time, I thought that this meant “for the nation” but that was back when my Spanish was very sketchy. I since found out that it means “nations unemployment” thanks to Google translator. For my Spanish speaking readers, which translation is correct?
In the Nazca Desert with our Sand Buggy and Sand Boards
We managed to forget the previous ordeal as we first laid our eyes on the Nazca Desert. The sand was golden and there were literally mountains of sand dunes all around us. We jumped into a sand buggy and kicked off our adventure on the roller coaster ride that is sand buggying!
Would you do this?
We even spotted a beautiful Oasis in the middle of the Nazca Desert. The driver stopped briefly to let us take this photo before we drove up to the top of an extremely steep mountain where we made our way down via a sand board.
This is me before I decided to sand board down one of the steepest sand mountains in Nazca. I then went onto my stomach and slid down the mountain the safe way. The only rule that we were given for sand boarding is that you must lie on your stomach, hold onto the board and keep your legs slightly elevated and slightly apart. I don’t know what came over me, but I misinterpreted those instructions and flew down that sand mountain like I was doing cart wheels on my board. Everyone was cheering for me because they thought that I was doing tricks, when in reality, I almost fatally slipped off the board a few times. However, I survived! And it was a lot of fun!
After an amazing sandy adventure, we ate at the local restaurant with sand in our hair and clothes. But we didn’t mind.
The Chauchilla Cemetery
The Chauchilla Cemetery is located the middle of the Nazca Desert and is the only archaeological site in Peru that displays ancient mummies in their original graves.
The Chauchilla Cemetery contains the mummified remains of the Nazca and remnants of ancient artifacts that these people were burried with. It was sad to hear that this Cemetery had been looted years ago and only parts of these graves have been left in tact. Sorry in advance if these photos are creepy!
As you can see from the above photo, many of these mummies appear in their original clothes while all that is left of others are the bones. The desert winds were not kind to these graves when the looters left the graves open. These mummies would have been buried with expensive artifacts and clothing to bring with them to their next life. The Shamans, a “priest like” and “witch-doctor” like figure, were very much celebrated in those ancient times and would have been left to rest with most of their expensive, worldly possessions. This is a picture of a Shaman. He had long hair and lavish clothing (what’s left of it), which signified his status in society at the time.
After visiting the Chauchilla Cemetery, we visited a pottery place where they replicate the traditional pottery techniques of the ancient Nazca people. I purchased a colourful looking pot for my mum and wandered around the displays outside. The nice man at the counter decided to end his presentation with a song on his guitar. Ah, I love Peru! Every city you go to is so musical.
Have you had a desert adventure? If so, what was your favourite experience? If you enjoyed this blog, don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on twitter. Happy travels!