Legend has it that the mysterious Nazca lines of Peru were created by ancient Nazca people for visiting Aliens in their strange air crafts. Nazca images were symbols for communicating with landing craft and landing strips were created along with the symbols. I come to believe it is true, however I am not sure if the Aliens did land on those landing strips made by these ancient Nazca people. The lines were constructed impeccably by clearing off shallow rock debris on this dry desert plains, the lines were so shallowly created that I couldn’t believe you can see it from the air.
This has been one of the places I had always wanted to visit since I was a young kid after reading all the conspiracy theories in supernatural magazines. It was the low season, and unfortunately not all the aircraft companies were open, the price for a short 30mins was us$150, it was usually us$90 when all the companies were competing with each other.
The plane circled a few times around each line, from above some of the lines could be barely made out because of the constant erosion by vehicles crossing the desert. 30minutes was a pretty short time, but it was worth the cost of visiting these lines which could possibly be destroyed with more human activities in the Nazca deserts.
If you are in Peru and Galapagos in Ecuador is not in your budget, then I highly recommend, the Ballestas Islands in Paracas. This is one of the most spectacular sights of marine birds that you will ever see in your whole life. It even beats Galapagos for the sure concentration of bird life, this is real life nature show at its god smacking best.
Ballestas islands has penguins, boobies, pelicans, comorants, sea lions, almost the same bird life as in the Galapagos but with birds covering the islands completely, my jaw dropped repeatedly. This is the reason why I was disappointed with the Galapagos.
The only way to get here is by taking one of the speed boat ride from Paracas, it cost around us$25 for a 2 hour tour. It is only a few hours away from Nazca so if you are visiting the Nazca lines, go visit Paracas. The downside is you can only view the birds from the boat along with a crowded bunch of tourists screaming repeatedly
Life in the various islands and the surroundings still remain quite rural with no running water or electricity, a harsh agricultural lifestyle that is rather surprising for the largest influx of tourists visiting the area. I enjoyed the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, visiting Taquile island which still preserves its authentic cultural lifestyle than Bolivia’s side in Isle de Sol that was innundated with tourists and locals trying to cash in by collecting endless road tolls and charging entrance fees for passing every village. The boliviano side wasn’t particularly welcoming nor friendly either.
You should visit the Chauchilla necropolis when you visit Nazca for the famous Nazca lines in Peru. Take a taxi from town and stay a little longer than the usual 30mins. This is the only place where you will get to see mummies exposed in their natural graves. In this very dry flat sandy desert plains lies scattered with exposed skeltons and burial artifacts.
If you stared out into the dry sandy desert, you could make out femurs and fingers phalanges, part of the cranium exposed on the surface. This whole nercropolis is huge and I could only visit a part of it as the rest were protected. It is just intriguing to see these tombs of the Nazca people, many skeletons still have well preserved long hair and skin out in the open sun after few thousand years.
Ollamtamybo, one of the more important sites of the Inca era became the last stop in my Inca trail. I arrived here after walking for 4 days from my living Inca trail. This is where I would take the train to Aguas Caliente for Manchu Picchu and return to Cusco after. I returned to Ollamtamybo, wanting to do a short 2 days in this tiny town. After Manchu Picchu, the wonderful ruins of Ollamtamybo seemed a little underwhelming. While visiting one of the ruins, met a very friendly Peruvian and his son who worked with the archaeological digs in nearby areas. He invited me to his home to look at some of his archaelogical finds. This became the highlight of my trip to this town. The house was a typical mud brick construct with guinea pigs running around the mud oven kitchen. Quite a sight by itself to have dinner running around.
He took out some Inca burial artifacts from a serious of cardboard boxes, one of the fascinating finds was a tiny desiccated human baby.Then there were others, adult human skulls. Some had broken cranium, a chilling proof that these were human sacrifices. The non-enlongated skulls showed these human artifacts were not from royalty but of normal descent and hence the Inca sacrificial burials for these mummies were for minor events. Still, the artifacts were fascinating and a great opportunity for a close up glimpse which otherwise be viewed from afar in boxed up windows of a museum.
The South Americans call it Semana Santa or Easter week. One of the most famous places to witness the holy week is in Ayacucho, Peru. The whole week was filled with tons of activities and quite a great place to spend your easter.I got to wander into the main church where celebrations were held and the volunteers were busy decorating the main draw for the easter procession. It was a painstaking affair and took days to prepare. While outside in the streets, everyone were viewing the afrombras, decorative carpets made from colored sand and flowers, waiting for dawn to witness the final parade of the week. It all cumulates on Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Christ.
At dawn, the procession begins, representing the resurrection of christ with candle lighted parade with the Jesus figurine at the top.
To climb up to the entrance of Manchu Picchu took 1 hour and a further 1 hour steep rocky climb to Wayna Picchu.
Sunrise at Manchu Picchu wasn’t terribly fantastic and the light quickly turned to a dull grey sky, at least it didn’t rain up in these Andean mountains! There were 2 timings up to Wayna Picchu and I was recommended the 11am timing when the fog and cloud dissipated, but it gets really hot and I would sweat off all 1 liter of my water bottle. Reluctantly paid a whopping us$5 for a tiny bottle of water! The view overlooking Manchu Picchu was amazing and photographs hardly express my feelings of this amazing Inca complex.It is said that Manchu Picchu is a spiritual university for the Incas where selected scholars and priests who come study the various science of that time, astrology being one of them. Whatever it was, the whole place gave me a huge sense of how amazing and god smacking awesome to have built this great university complex right in the mountains.