Nazca, Ica and Lima
20.05.2019 - 26.05.2019
We left the heartland of the Incas with an overnight bus from Cusco to Nazca close to the Pacific coast. Nazca is known for the Nazca Lines, created by the culture of the same name. We took a short 40-minute flight to see the line drawings in the sand. The Nazca people have made these drawings most likely to indicate sources of water and positions of stars important for keeping track of the seasons. The figures are between 50 and 300 meters wide and therefore impossible to see from the ground. While the flight was interesting, it was definitely not enjoyable. The plane took such stomach-churning sharp turns to show us the lines, that despite taking motion sickness medicine beforehand, we both felt bad for the second half of the flight.
Nazca town does not have anything to offer besides the lines and is in general not a pleasant place, so we quickly moved on by bus to Ica. Ica is the main region for the production of Peru’s signature spirit, Pisco. We went to visit the Tacama winery there, which claims to be South Americas first winery. Besides wine, they also produce Pisco of course. Our wine and Pisco tasting was held by a sommelier in the most sophisticated tasting room we have ever seen. Unfortunately, the wine was not as good as what we tried in Chile and Argentina, but at least the Pisco was very tasty.
Nearby Ica is the small village of Huacachina, surrounding a small oasis in the middle of the desert. We took a tour on the huge sand dunes with a special sand buggy. The tour also involved sandboarding, which is basically sliding down the dunes lying on a wooden board.
After two nights in Ica, we took the bus to Lima, the capital of Peru. Even though Lima is much closer to the equator than Rio de Janeiro, it is not a great place for a beach vacation at this time of the year. Thanks to the Humboldt current, the waters of the Pacific are below 20 °C here in May and there is an almost constant fog over the city. In fact, we haven’t seen a ray of sunshine in four days in Lima. We spent some time exploring the old town, but were not particularly impressed by it. Our highlight of Lima was the food. The city is home to some of the world’s best restaurants and we made sure to visit some of them, although the top spots were of course booked out for months.
Another high point of our time in Lima was the visit to Museo Larco. The museum did a great job showing the dozens of different cultures that have lived throughout Peru and how they influenced each other. Although the Incas get all the fame, they actually ruled for only a bit over one hundred years, while the history of Peruvian civilizations goes back for 5’000 years.
Overall, we enjoyed our time in Peru a lot and there were some more places we would have liked to see if time had allowed. Peru has, in our opinion, the most spectacular part of the Andes and we enjoyed our time at Lake Titicaca and the area around Cusco a lot. The coastal area, however, we found less interesting, as it is mostly desert with the occasional rusty town.