Desert Oasis Bars and Private Flights

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We reluctantly left Lima and our favorite Irish Bar a few days after I got back to town from home, and we headed south for a place that KP could install the 100+ pounds of parts I brought back with him. We reached out to a few of our contacts in Peru and were lucky that the local Four-Wheel Camper dealer, in fact the only one in South America, got back to us and said he had a walled courtyard at his house an hour south of Lima, so we headed over to our new friend Alberto’s house for a couple nights. KP replaced the bump stops, tie rods, steering box, and more to help with the steering and suspension issues we were having, then it was time to head south to the oasis town of Huacachina. 

While I was home in the states I called KP to check in one day and found him having a beer at a swim-up pool-bar in the middle of this incredible desert oasis… if I hadn’t been drinking a delicious IPA at the time and eating fish tacos in San Diego, I would have been super jealous! So instead, I told him we had to go there when I got back. We decided to go full tourist while visiting, including a day of wine/pisco tasting with a guide, and a sunset Buggy tour of the dunes surrounding the Oasis. The wine and pisco were great, we are pretty much Pisco addicts at this point, it’s just such a drinkable liquor. Pisco is made from about three specific varieties of grapes. After the grapes are processed and fermented, they distill them to about 40% alcohol and that becomes the clear liquor they call Pisco. The flavor is a bit annis-like, almost comparable to some of the clear liquors they make in Greece like Grappa or Ouzo, but without the sweetness. It makes a great cocktail, and can be found at most liquor stores in the states if you’re interested in giving it a try. 

The evening was pretty much the opposite of a relaxing day of wine tasting. We jumped in to a buggy that seated 12 including our barely post-pubescent driver, and barreled through the dunes for two hours in what I can only imagine was a failed attempt to murder all of us! With the barely working seat belts, the unlicensed drivers, and the routes they chose to provide the most excitement, we were lucky we kept the Pisco down at all. There were a couple fun moments when the buggy stopped and we could get out for another activity, these including three trips down the side of the dunes on your stomach on a sand board, and sitting and watching the sun set over the dunes. All in all, it was fun though we would NEVER do it again! Once was definitely enough!

We spent one more day of laying by the pool, swimming up to the bar for cocktails, and using a bit more internet, before we made our way to bed so we could get an early start the next day. But… we got a message from our friends Iannis the Greek (pronounced Yawny) and Rochelle the Aussie from Overland Diaries saying they were on their way to camp and to get the whiskey ready. We tried to explain that we had to get an early start in the morning so we couldn’t partake too much, but when they arrived Iannis told us in his irresistible Greek accent, “it is bad luck to start a journey without a hangover!” So we shared the bottle of Makers Mark I had brought back from the states and a bottle of delicious Greek liquor that Iannis had just brought back with him! Let’s just say that the next day we were feeling REALLY “lucky!”

After killing most of the day getting an alignment done, visiting Promart (South American Home Depot) for a few needed items, and a grocery stock-up, we started out South for the town of Nazca and the infamous Nazca lines. We spent that night camped on the soccer field of a small town along the way, sharing our camp with a friendly horse, and even friendlier Peruvians, and the next morning made it the rest of the way to the airport in Nazca. 

If you don’t know (and I didn’t until I started researching Peru), the Nazca lines are a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert. Scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD and though they differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, in general, they ascribe religious significance to them. The designs are shallow lines made in the ground by removing naturally occurring reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are designs of animals, such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguars, and monkeys, or human figures. Other designs include shapes, such as trees and flowers. The largest figures are up to 1,200 ft long. (info found via Wikipedia)

We went direct to the airport and got hustled by the many purveyors of flights in to taking a private Cessna 172 with just us and two pilots, for $85 per person. It is possible to get these flights cheaper if you’re willing to negotiate and find at least 2-4 people to fly with you, but we let ourselves splurge a bit on the private flight. It was well worth it to see these incredible figures made by nothing more than human ingenuity over 1,500 years ago, that have stood the test of time and left scholars and archeologists with more questions than answers as to why they are there.

Next week we head to another marvel of the ancient world that you most likely have heard of: MACHU PICCHU!!!!