Our bus from Arequipa to Nazca drove 140kph (there is a speedometer inside the bus which turns red and beeps after 90kph), so I wasn’t surprised when we were dropped off on the side of the Pan American Highway just before 5am instead of 6:30am when we were scheduled to arrive. Unfortunately, the side of the road is not the best place to be at this hour. So when we were approached by a hostel owner who said we could wait at his hostel, we were relieved. We had planned to head straight to the airport to schedule a flight over the Nazca lines for later that day; however, the hostel also operated tours, so when he gave us his spiel, we made it easy on ourselves and used his services. Unfortunately, he lied about almost everything he told us including the fact that we couldn’t set up tours from the airport, the price went up “just last week” because we were in high season and he was letting us “pay less” than the rest of the tourists. Essentially, he preyed on our lack of sleep, uncomfortable circumstances and the fact we weren’t sure how much the activity should cost. In the end, we got taken by a hostel owner for not being well prepared. It’s our fault. But, we’ve definitely found that Peru will tell you anything to make another dollar.
We freshened up before heading to the airport. There we uncovered all the lies we had been told, but by that time it was too late. (We did write about our experience on Tripadvisor to help future visitors avoid the scam.) We each got weighed. In a 6 person plane, the weight distribution is important. Of course, Joshua and I couldn’t sit next to each other–there’s no balance in that. Because we had paid so much for our flight, we were assigned to the first plane of the morning.
We crammed into the plane with 4 other passengers; my seat was right behind the pilot.
Riding in this type of plane is nerve-wracking…you can feel every turn, bump, gust of wind. During take-off and landing, you can watch everything the pilot is doing (right OR wrong).
The flight itself was amazing. The Nazca lines are strange drawings (10 cm deep trenches) in the desert floor made by a group of people between 400-600AD that can only be seen from a plane or atop nearby mountains. There are over 70 drawings, some over 200m long. The most spectacular include a monkey and a hummingbird.
The question that remains, however, is why they made them. There is no answer, yet.
The tour of the lines lasts only 45 minutes, but that is plenty of time to see all the carvings from the air. The pilots are considerate enough to make crazy banking turns so you see them from both sides of the plane. No one gets a bad view. Your stomach, however, gets a 45 minute roller coaster ride, too.
It’s interesting how your Nazca experiences match ours. We got thrown out the very same way, even at the same time, on the same route … on our 1-year anniversary. See: http://mauwth.smugmug.com/Explore/Peru/2010-026g-Trip-to-Peru-Nasca/15441651_VD9CCj#!i=1156088992&k=dDZCS. Plus, we also made a really bad experience trying to get food in Nazca after the flight in a restaurant in downtown Nazca. They took our order, but never started cooking the food, letting us wait for an hour without telling us anything. We left Nazca as quickly as we could …