Cycling Peru: Lima to Nasca

Lima to Bujama beach, Mala 86km
Chincha Alta 100km
Paracas 60km
Huacachina, Ica 70km
Palpa 94km
Nasca 50km

460km from Lima to Nasca

4,126km in South America
25,634km so far

With much less headwind, and even a day with tailwind, heading south of Lima was generally more pleasant to cycle than the daily battle we had fought in the North.

Heading out of Lima, the panamerican continues along the coast which is dominated by private developments blocking the sea not only from tourists but also from the average Peruvian. A real shame. We tried to stop at a beach called Tortoritas but it was privatized so we kept moving along to a beach called Bujama which was still public. The next day we made it as far as Chincha Alta where we started to see many places offering Pisco tasting. It was a Sunday so restaurants had closed early but there was a shopping centre which was open. Instead of McDonalds, they had a ceviche restaurant and a bar where we could drink Pisco sours. Perfect.

Paracas

Although I had been excited about having a Pisco in Pisco, we had been advised that it wasn’t a nice place and Paracas was much better. I’m glad we took the suggestion because the boat trip to see the Islas Ballestas was amazing. Literally thousands of birds, including penguins and pelicans covered the islands and filled the sky above us. The highlight was seeing Sealions very close up, as they rested on the rocks, enjoying the warmth of the sun.

IMG_2250.JPG Sealions at Islas Ballestas having a chat

Later that day, we took a ride without panniers to the Paracas natural reserve, which is a beautiful peninsula, and was a great opportunity to cycle off road and enjoy the views away from cars and trucks.

Huacachina

IMG_2483.PNG Huacachina, Ica

Next to Ica is a small but spectacular desert oasis called Huacachina. We took a ride in a dune buggy and tried sandboarding. Paola went down on her belly but of course I tried going down standing up. It was lots of fun even though I managed to wipe out directly onto my face so I got sand into everything, my hair, beard, ears, and eyes. At dinner, I found a blob of sand in my eye. A night drinking Pisco sours led to dancing in the street and a drunk game of pool with some nice guys who gave me ten dollars sponsorship!

The next day was a recovery day, not recovering from cycling, this time we were recovering from our hangovers. And then we had a much tougher day into strong headwinds. When we reached Palpa, I realised I had cycled all day with a pocketful of sand.

Nasca Lines

On the way to Nasca we saw a number of mini tornadoes in the valley before Nasca and I had some fun trying to chase them.
The museum of Maria Reiche who studied the Nasca lines and the lines themselves were a bit disappointing. You can see two of the lines from a ‘mirador’ (viewing tower) next to the road. It costs just 2 soles but the guy said “vienen con bici?” (You came by bike?) and let us go up for free. Honestly, I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It seems you can only really appreciate the Nasca lines if you go on a plane for 80 dollars. That’s the most remarkable thing about the lines, the people who dug them hundreds of years ago didn’t have aeroplanes. One theory is that they had developed some form of hot air balloons. Interesting but really not worth visiting.

The next part of the journey will be tough as nails. Leaving the Panamerican highway and heading East toward Cusco. It starts with a 100km climb up to 4000m. Paola will take a bus while I take on my toughest challenge yet.

IMG_2359.JPG Thirsty cyclists enjoying “cremoladas” (frozen slushies but healthy as they’re made from real, fresh fruit)

IMG_2373.JPG The Panamerican Highway as it passes the Nasca Lines