While Pete scooted off to Lima to sort out some issues he was having with the Peruvian police (or to 'apply for his Brazilian visa extension'), Dan & I headed south to Arequipa.
Like many of the cities we were visiting, the old Spanish colonial architecture made the main square & it's surrounds very picturesque. However, the main reason we'd detoured south to visit here was to take another trek (Inca just wasn't enough). This time into the depths of the World's deepest canyon!
It was only a 2 day trek, but it was quite a long way from Arequipa & there was a lot of k's to cover on Day 1, so it was a 3am departure! Dan was getting a little worried when the clock struck 3 & I hadn't got home from the bar yet, but luckily they were also running a bit late & I made it (albeit very drunk).
By the time we'd spent 4 hours on the road & got some brekky into us I was almost sober enough to start hiking! Before we started the descent we got a very good view of a bunch of massive condors circling for prey down in the canyon.
The steep, gravelly descent was hard on the knees & toes but we were comforted by the guide who explained that the ascent the next day (1km in altitude in 2.5 hours!) would be worse! She was right! Was a great hike & along the way we passed through several VERY isolated villages (we pondered how they managed to get the few fridges they had down there!) and got to try a few local delicacies like Siquiyu & Tuna (both fruits that grow on cactuses) and the local 'cocktail' made from the latter: the "Colca Sour"!
Another overnight bus landed us further north in the dry, dirty city of Nazca. It lies at the foot of the Andes, so, like most of the west coast of South America, it hardly gets any rainfall cause the clouds don't make it over the mountains. The city itself is small & not worth visiting, but just south the mysterious 'Nazca lines' have been etched into the desert rocks by an ancient civilisation. There are many geometric shapes & animals, some of which are almost 1km long. There are several theories (including Aliens) on their purpose & how they were able to draw such accurate shapes without the benefit of aerial photography, but none can be proven. We jumped into a little 6 man plane to get a view from the air because they really have to be seen to be believed!
None of us were too keen on spending the night in Nazca, so we continued up the coast to the desert oasis of Huacachina, just outside the city of Ica. It is a little town in the middle of massive sand dunes (think Anna Bay on steroids) built around a lagoon that has.formed in a depression between dunes. Despite this patch of 'life' looking quite unusual amongst the lifeless sand desert, the main attractions are dune-buggy rides and sand-boarding. We took a tour which combined them both and ended up with a geriatric rally car wannabe veteran as our driver. By far the best adrenalin rush I'd had in years was pelting up these dunes at top speed then plummeting over the edge & just praying we'd land the right way up! The funniest part would have to be when our driver turns around seconds before we hit the top of a dune to put his seat belt on (how he has survived all his years without it on all the time bemused me)! Sand-boarding was also fun... a few of the dunes were so big that we had to chicken out & take them on our stomachs instead of our feet.