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Sandboarding in Huacachina, Ica

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I carved down the big dune on my sandboard. Keeping the weight on my back leg I was making sure the tip of the board didn’t dip into the soft sand. It wasn’t quite like riding on powder, but it would have to do. Then I saw someone fall in front of me, and tried carving heavily to the left to avoid him, but the tip of my board caught the sand and I somersaulted head first into the dune, I kept on rolling back to my board and continued riding down. You should had seen it, it was awesome.

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Carrying about a kilo of sand in my clothes and at least half a kilo in my ear (getting sand out of ones ear is a lot of work I tell you) we threw our boards to the back of the buggy and climbed in.

Riding on the buggies on dunes is kind of like a roller coaster ride, except there are no tracks. And without the tracks, there is no certainty about where you are going or how. The driver was making ridiculous turns, jumping down dunes, or going on the side of the dunes, in an angle that seemed impossible.

In one word, if you like roller coasters, you’ll love dune buggying.

One word on the boards thou. The boards that come with the tours are just pieces of wood with some velcro attached to them. Really, only good for going down on your stomach. So if you want to do proper boarding, you’ll want to hire an actual snowboard.

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We had arrived to Ica the previous day, and by we, I mean me and a Dutch girl I had met at the bus stop in Ica. We had shared a taxi to Huacachina together with two Norwegian girls.

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Huacachina is an oasis in a desert, close to the city of Ica. Why the city itself isn’t build around the oasis is beyond me, as  the oasis is only 5-10 minute taxi ride from the bus station. Basically there are just hotels and restaurants surrounding the small oasis lake, with a few other buildings scattered around them. According to wikipedia the population of Huacachina is 115, and it’s not hard to believe. There is really nothing there except infrastructure to support the hotels and restaurants.

So we didn’t stay in Huacachina for too long, before catching a bus from Ica to Nazca; to see the Nazca lines of course, why else would you go to Nazca.

We heard that there had been a plane crash some three months earlier with one of the planes flying over the Nazca lines. After this there had been an inquiry into the safety standards, which, unsurprisingly, had then forced half of the companies to close office. Remaining half, of course, doubling their prices.

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We took a taxi to the airport to check on the prices (best always to avoid middle men), but the prices were all $100 or more, which seemed a bit too expensive for what it was, so we decided to skip it. Instead we boarded a bus (costing less than half a dollar) that went by the Miradors where you could see the Nazca lines without a plane.

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It’s quite a depressing landscape, it’s a desert, but with rocks. It’s not hard to believe that it is one of the most driest place on earth, heard from somewhere that the rain fall is less than 1 cm in a decade. So here in the middle of the desert we stopped the bus at the “Metallic Mirador” and got off the bus. It was just us two and two Argentinian guys that got off there in middle of the desert. There in front of us was the “Metallic Mirador”, entrance was 1 Sole.

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We climbed into the tower, and there they were, the patterns on the ground. The Hands on one side and the tree figure on the other side. And I do have to say, I didn’t find them that impressive. Shallow lines in the ground, that could had been done by anybody by dragging their feet on ground.

So yes, by themselves they are not that impressive. It’s more the point that they are over 2000 years old. And we don’t know why they were created. We don’t even know much about the people who created them. For all we know, they could be alien graffiti.

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After viewing them from the tower, we walked about a kilometer by the road to the nearby hill that allowed a good view of lines stretching on to horizon. Perfectly straight. It’s been a lot of work and difficult with the tools that they’ve had to ensure the geometry. But we were running low on water, and running out of water in the desert is not good, so we headed back to the road and caught a bus back to Nazca.

Next, the mountains.