Ica and Nazca

Ica (June 14-16, 2016)
A small dot on a map, this town doesn’t offer much, but what they offer is fun: sand buggies and sandboarding. Sand dunes stretch further than the eye can see. We arrived here at 3pm. Down $16, we were already sitting in a sand buggy at 4pm. Attempting a rollercoaster effect, the driver swerves around the sand dunes hoping for screams of terror. The Hispanic women couldn’t help but screech. I must admit, I ended up letting out a shout myself. I recommend wearing a bandana around your mouth if you don’t want to swallow sand during the ride, and big sunglasses to protect your eyes. And use your common sense. Please don’t wear a dress/skirt. (White clothing will stain brown from the sand.) Two German girls wore short dresses to their discomfort, since part of this trip includes sandboarding.

Sand Buggy

Sand Buggy

If my memory serves me right, sandboarding is slightly more difficult than snowboarding. Heeding to the guide’s warning, I chose to sled down the first hill instead. Afterwards, I trekked back up the hill and sandboarded the second time. I fell almost instantly. Was more of a tumble down the hill. If I was a cartoon, I would have become and epic sandball. The second hill I sandboarded again. This time more successfully. I was almost all the way down, but then fell hard with the momentum I had going. I wish I had a recording of me falling for your entertainment.

I do however, have a film of me sledding down the last hill. To the concern of my driver, I requested “rapido” (fast). He owned wax, which he would smear at the bottom of the board for speed. The other females in the group used their feet to slow down. For a female to request speed must have been very unusual for him, because he ended up asking my life story as he was prepping the board. The fastest in the group, a guy at the bottom moved out of my way because I sledded further. In expense of a sandburn on my left arm, I desperately leaned to the side to avoid hitting him. Happy I went. Definitely put this activity on your bucket list.

Cost breakdown of Ica in USD*:

  • Hostel: $10.12
  • Transportation: $11.46
  • Food: $6.08
  • Activity: $16.07 (Nazca Lines)

Daily Average Cost: $21.87

Nazca (June 16-18, 2016)
Nazca is only a hop away from Ica. The world famous Nazca lines are here. Some claim that aliens have ventured here and made these lines (Alien Invasion!!!), but I think that humans were smart enough to create these giant drawings in the desert sand. Because this area gets less than an inch of rain and only mild wind each year, the awe-inspiring lines have remained for all these centuries. The lines are shallow. Imagine solemnly brushing away the bigger pebbles on top and that’s basically how the lines are made.

A straight line that stretches all the way to the mountain in the back

A straight line that stretches all the way to the mountain in the back

There are various methods to see the lines:
• Flying ($68 - $108)
• Ground Tour ($21 - $60)
• Solo ($3)

Flying is the most expensive method. According to an agency, $100 is normal for high season. We were visiting during low season and talked an offer down to $60. Keep in mind that the airport charges a $8 tax that’s not included in the price. During the 30min flight you will fly over all Nazca lines and view all of them from above. English pilot/guide usually on board.

We chose the ground tour option. Seems like these tours are set up by the hostels with connections they have. There are ruins 2-hour drive away from town and some tours will include this attraction, but at a higher cost (~ $60). Our trip had 3 stops for $20. First to a hill where a line was touchable-close. Second to a viewing-tower ($1) where we could see 2 actual drawings. Third stop was more ancient drawings than Nazca lines. We choose this option because we wanted to hear the history and ask questions.
A method to make your ground tour cheaper: If you sabotage the car and have to wait for hours to return, then you can haggle with your guide. I’m just kidding. Don’t destroy a vehicle. A girl from our hostel ran into this issue and with much effort talked down the price from $60 to $20.

Solo is super cheap. A one-way bus ride costs $1 and then $1 for the observation tower (called Mirador). There won’t be a guide at the tower to explain the history to you. In the town of Nazca, there is an information stand that can direct you to the bus stop if you’re interested.

Picture from the internet showing the tree line and the Mirador (observation tower)

Picture from the internet showing the tree line and the Mirador (observation tower)

I still can’t get over the shallowness of the lines and that I could still see them from super far away. If you are in the region, definitely stop by this place to take a look. You’ll be amazed.

Cost breakdown of Nazca in USD*:

  • Hostel: $7 (incl. breakfast)
  • Transportation: $2.98 (initial transportation to the city)
  • Food: $9.82
  • Activity: $18.75 (Nazca Lines)

Daily Average Cost: $18.30