Our Latest Work: Manaus, Lima, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu & More…

We just realized that we haven’t published a post about Our Latest Work in a really, really long time. We can fix that. Our most recent freelance travel stories are about Lima, Peru for the Delta Sky Magazine, Manaus, Brazil for CNN Travel, and the Che Guevara trail in Bolivia for the website for the Biography channel.

Delta Sky Magazine - Lima

If you’re on a Delta Airlines flight this month, check our first story for Delta Sky Magazine which where to eat, sleep, and enjoy in three great neighborhoods in Lima. Or read it here

CNN Manaus

This guide to the best things to do in Manaus, Brazil is our first story for CNN Travel. 

 

Bio.com che in Bolivia

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, Bio.com published our story about touring the tiny Bolivian town where he was secretly buried

 

T+L Guide to galapagos Islands

Here are some favorite stories of ours which were published earlier in the year, including our all new Travel Guide to the Galapagos Islands for Travel + Leisure

 

Good - Peruvian chef Ocampo

We were delighted to write about Peruvian Chef Palmiro Ocampo and his quest to reduce food waste and hunger for Good magazine. 

 

T+L Guide to Machu Picchu

We also updated Travel+ Leisure’s Travel Guide to Machu Picchu, Peru’s most famous (and most complicated) destination. 

 

Afar - Travel Fails

Then there was our quick and funny (we hope) piece about real-life Travel Fails for Afar magazine. 

 

And if going green (er) is your thing, check out our story about cutting-edge eco measures in the Galapagos which was published in newspapers across Canada. 

 

Support us on Patreon


Leave a comment


Exploring the Nazca Lines on the Ground – Nazca, Peru

The Nazca Lines, which were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, are best seen on a Nazca Lines flightseeing tour because the mysterious man-made figures and designs are so big that you need get high above them to see the whole picture. However, there are a bunch of ways to explore the Nazca Lines on the ground too.

Nazca lines Peru

Welcome to our ground tour of the Nazca Lines.

Exploring the Nazca Lines on the ground

Heading out of Nazca on the Pan-American Highway you will pass through a toll booth. About 10 miles (16 km) past the toll booth you’ll see a dirt road to the left. Take it, then  walk up a low hill from which you can look down on a massive plain full of straight lines and geometric shapes. The spot is spectacular at sunset. 

Nazca lines at sunset

Try to be at this hill, with views over geometric Nazca Lines, around sunset.

Get back on the PanAm and continue about one more mile away from town and you’ll reach a viewing platform on the side of the PanAm (3 PEN or about US$0.90). A steep flight of stairs leads up to a top deck where you can look down on The Hands and The Tree. The view of these glyphs from the platform is not as spectacular as it is from a flightseeing tour, but it does give you a different perspective.

Nazca lines tree from observation tower

The Tree seen from the observation tower on the side of the PanAm Highway just outside of Nazca.

Nazca lines hands from observation tower

The Hands seen from the observation tower on the PanAm Highway just outside of Nazca.

Continue 2 miles (3 km) further down the PanAm to reach the small Maria Reiche Museum (10 PEN or about US$3) which tells the story of the German mathematician who studied and protected the Nazca Lines for decades, following on from work done by Peruvians which began in the 1920s. Pictures of Maria in the museum, which is in her former home, show a woman who looks tough as nails even as she’s mapping the decorated desert in a skirt.

Maria Reiche Museum

This van was used by Maria Reiche, aka the Lady of the Lines, as she mapped and advocated for the Nazca Lines. We love that the van has “Nazca Lines Security” painted on the door.

Maria, who some people call The Lady of the Lines, also built the viewing platform over The Hands and The Tree. She is credited with mapping the lines and fighting for their protection right up to her death in 1998. She’s buried on the museum grounds.

Maria Reiche Nazca lines observation tower

A still from our drone footage over the observation tower overlooking The Tree and The Hands.

Head about 3 miles (5 km) north of Nazca on the road that goes into the mountains toward Cusco and you’ll find a group of glyphs called Telar de Nazca (The Loom of Nazca). After walking up a small rise at this site (10 PEN or about US$3) you can look down on a formation called Las Agujas (The Needles), but the best part is the view of the massive Cerro Blanco in the background.

Cerro Blanco is said to be the world’s highest sand dune at 8,884 feet (2,708 meters), though a dune in Oman and another in Namibia have also been called the world’s tallest. Guided trips take travelers up the dune (about a three-hour hike) before sand boarding down.

The Needles Lineas telar Nazca

The Needles.

Cerro Blanco sand dune Nazca, Peru

Cerro Blanco, near Nazca, is said to be the world’s highest sand dune at 8,884 feet (2,708 meters).

Not Nazca

Nazca isn’t the only town with massive, mysterious glyphs. Continue past the Maria Reiche Museum on the PamAm away from Nazca and you’ll see a turn off to the left that leads to another viewing platform. This one is positioned over a configuration of glyphs on a hillside called The Family (2 PEN or about US$0.65). This set of glyphs was not included in our flightseeing tour at all and was not made by the Nazca people but by the Paracas people.

Oaracas Royal family Palpa lines Nazca

The Family glyph, part of the Palpa Lines made by the Paracas people, as seen from an observation tower.

Additional figures Paracas Royal family Palpa lines Nazca

Additional glypsh near The Family.

Return to the PanAm and keep traveling away from Nazca to the nearby town of Palpa to find more of the so-called Palpa Lines made by the Paracas people. Follow the signs that lead you out of town and down a short dirt road to arrive at a hilltop viewing platform over a glyph called The Sundial.

Sundial Palpa Lines Nazca Reloj solar

The Sundial, as seen from a hilltop observation tower in Palpa.

Palpa is also known for its oranges, so be sure to stop for a glass of fresh squeezed juice at on of the roadside stands.

Our drone video, below, will give you a look at The Clock, along with The Hummingbird, The Tree, The Hands, The Family, and The Spider.

The Nazca Lines under threat

New glyphs are still being discovered in Nazca and despite protections, all of the glyphs are still threatened. When the PanAm Highway was built it bisected some glyphs and we can’t help but wonder what the Nazca spirits (or the aliens) think of this new never-ending line among their own. Wind continues to erode the glyphs and humans are still doing damage as well. In 2014 Greenpeace, for example, apologized for damage done to the The Hummingbird glyph by activists who unintentionally walked over it to install a message about climate change.

Where to sleep in Nazca

It must be said that the dusty, ramshackle town of Nazca is pretty grim, but thousands of travelers come anyway to see those famous lines. That means there are a lot of hotels in town from extremely basic hostels to higher end offerings catering to organized tour groups.

Somewhere in the middle is B Hotel Nasca Suites (doubles around US$40). Opened in 2017, this place is right across the highway from the airport (convenient for morning flight seeing) but about a mile from town. There’s a pool and full breakfast included, along with Wi-Fi, and more style than most mid-range places in Nazca.

Here’s more about travel in Peru

Support us on Patreon


2 Comments - Join the conversation »


Flightseeing Over the Nazca Lines – Nazca, Peru

People travel to the town of Nazca (spelled Nasca in Peru) to see the famous Nazca Lines and marvel at their mass (up to 1,200 feet / 370 meters long) and their mystery (why were they made and who was meant to see them?). Here’s what we saw (and wondered) during our flightseeing tour to see the Nazca Lines from the air.

Nazca lines hummingbird colibri picafloe

The Hummingbird – 305 feet (93 meters) long

To fly or not to fly?

We were surprised when some fellow long-term travelers said they thought flying over the Nazca Lines, which were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, wasn’t necessary. True, there are a few viewing platforms over a few of the lines around Nazca (more about them in our next post about exploring the Nazca Ines on the ground), but the Nazca Lines are so enormous that they’re virtually impossible to see except from the air.

For example, despite existing in the desert for hundreds and hundreds of years (most researchers agree that the glyphs were made by Nazca people between 500 BC and 500 AD), yet the lines and designs weren’t really discovered by modern science until someone spotted them from a plane.

We decided to fly.

Nazca lines flightseeing

The Cesna 206 that took us on our flightseeing tur over the Nazca Lines in Peru with Alas Peruana.

Flightseeing tour over the Nazca Lines

There are many fight tour companies in Nazca. Alas Peruanas took us up for their 30 minute flight (US$80 per person) to view 13 different figures in a Cesna 206 four passenger plane with a pilot and co-pilot. All passengers got headphones to cut out some of the engine noise and allow us to hear the running commentary about the shapes we would be seeing (in Spanish) from the pilots.

Spider Nazca lines araña

The Spider – 151 feet (46 meters) long

These tourist flights travel in a set circuit over an area with a high concentration of geoglyphs (man-made designs in the earth). To ensure that everyone gets a good look at each of the images, the planes dip their wings on one side, then circle the glyph and dip their wings on the other side.

Nazca lines from above flight

The Nazca Lines include about 700 straight line formations and 300 geometric shapes, human forms or animal forms with more being discovered all the time.

Seeing the glyphs, including The Hummingbird, The Spider, The Tree, The Dog, The Monkey, The Flamingo, The Parrot, The Astronaut, The Frigatebird, The Hands, The Condor, The Baby Condor and The Whale, in their entirety was undeniably powerful.

Nazca lines flightseeing landing

Coming in for a landing after our 30 minute flight over the Nazca Lines.

After half an hour of dipping and circling, we were ready to be on solid ground. Small shops selling sodas at the airport do a brisk business to travelers (including us) anxious to settle wobbly post-flight stomachs.

Frigate bird, Flamingo Nazca lines

The Frigatebird (bottom) and The Flamingo which is 984 feet (300 meters) long but is still hard to see.

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses for the flight and you must show your passport before boarding. Flights are often delayed if it’s cloudy or foggy (we waited for more than an hour for our take off), so be prepared to wait. Also, there’s also a 25 PEN (US$10) airport tax that’s not included in the price you pay the tour company.

flying over the Nazca lines

The skies about the Nazca Lines are crowded. Note the plane under ours in the lower portion of this shot we took as we flew over The Frigatebird, The Flamingo, and The Parrot.

Naza Lines flightseeing safety

While we felt safe during our flight, on any given day there are a lot of small planes in the air flying close and low and accidents do happen. Many, many people have died. The worst year was 1986 when 28 tourist aircraft crashed into the Nazca Desert, killing 130 people.

Safety and oversight have improved since the cowboy days pre-1999. However in 2016, there were still reportedly 19 tourists death in Nazca Lines flightseeing accidents.

Monkey Nazca Lines

The Monkey – 295 feet (90 meters) long

Get a glimpse of the Nazca Lines from the air in the video we shot from our flightseeing tour, below.

Nazca Lines mysteries

Seeing some of the glyphs from the air only amplified our questions about them: How were the Nazca Lines made? And why? Many people far smarter than us have been pondering those questions for a very long time.

Condor Nazca Lines

The Condor – 443 feet (135 meters) long

The easiest question to answer is about how the glyphs around Nazca were made. There are about 700 glyphs composed of straight lines plus another 300 or so that depict geometric shapes and stylized animals. Researchers say dark pebbles, which exist naturally on the surface of the desert, were removed to reveal the light-colored sand beneath, thus creating shapes in the ground (which is the basic definition of a geoglyph).

Astronaut Nazca Lines

The Astronaut – 115 feet (35 meters) long

Crude surveying tools, like wooden stakes, have been found around the glyphs hinting at how the precise designs and straight lines might have been mapped out and achieved.

Nazca Lines Whale ballena

The Whale – 213 feet (65 meters) long

That leaves the trickiest question of all: Why were the glyphs made and who was meant to see them?

The lines were created long, long before humans had the ability to travel through the air so the Nazca people may never have seen the images in their entirety since many of the hills in the area aren’t high enough to provide a vantage point. Some theorize that the Nazca made the designs for their Gods to see. Others think the designs might make up some sort of astrological map used by the Nazca people. Or perhaps the glyphs marked ceremonial areas.

Nazca lines Parrot loro

The Parrot – 213 feet (65 meters) long

Also, aliens. You can’t have a proper archaeological mystery without someone suggesting that aliens were involved. Recent controversial alien theories in Nazca inspired this necessary-read in The Atlantic.

Nazca lines baby condor or dinosaur

Baby Condor – 115 feet (35 meters) long

Frigate bird nazca lines

The Frigatebird – 443 feet (135 meters) long

The Nazca Lines under threat

New glyphs are still being discovered around Nazca and despite protections, all of the glyphs are still threatened.

When the PanAm Highway was built it bisected a huge glyph called The Iguana and we can’t help but wonder what the Nazca spirits (or the aliens) think about this new never-ending line in the midst of their own. Wind continues to erode the glyphs and humans are still doing damage as well. In 2014 Greenpeace, for example, apologized for damage done to The Hummingbird glyph by activists who unintentionally walked over it to install a message about climate change.

flying over nazca lines tree, hands, iguana observation tower

The observation tower where you can look down on The Tree (213 feet/65 meters long) and The Hands (213 feet/65 meters long). You can also see the PanAm highway bisecting The Iguana.

Random Nazca lines flower spiral

Random Nazca Lines that we liked…

Where to sleep in Nazca

It must be said that the dusty, ramshackle town of Nazca is pretty grim, but thousands of travelers come anyway to see those famous lines. That means there are a lot of hotels in town from extremely basic hostels to higher-end offerings catering to organized tour groups.

Somewhere in the middle is B Hotel Nasca Suites (doubles around US$40). Opened in 2017, this place is right across the highway from the airport (convenient for morning flight seeing) but about a mile from town. There’s a pool and full breakfast included, along with Wi-Fi, and more style than most mid-range places in Nazca.

Here’s more about travel in Peru

 

Support us on Patreon


1 Comment - Join the conversation


Border Crossing 101: Arica, Chile to Tacna, Peru

It’s official: the very popular and very busy border crossing from Arica, Chile to Tacna, Peru was the fastest border crossing on our road trip so far. Border crossing 101 travel tips are below and we hope you breeze through too.

 

Welcome to Peru

 

From: Arica, Chile

To: Tacna, Peru

Date: October 17, 2017

Lay of the land: We’ve crossed this border numerous times but this time we were pleased to see that border formalities have recently been consolidated into one building for Peru and Chile.

Elapsed time: An unbelievable 35 minutes from start to finish (10 am to 10:35 am). This is a record for us and one we doubt we’ll be able to improve upon, though we live in hope. It took about 15 minutes to exit Chile because we didn’t have the quadruplet forms needed and it took a minute to find the forms and fill them out. It took about 5 minutes to cancel our Chile temporary import permit (TIP). It took a further 5 minutes to get our TIP for Peru, which is now done in an efficient little office on the side of the building where entry stamps are given (look for the sign that says CIT).

Number of days given: 90 for us and 90 for our truck

 

Arica, Chile - Tacna, Peru border crossing

This is the building on the Arica, Chile side of the border where you used to stamp out of Chile before moving forward to the next building where Peruvian formalities were done. Now formalities for both countries are done in what was Peru’s facility and this building is used by both countries to process people leaving Peru and entering Chile.

 

Fees: None

Vehicle insurance needed: You must have SOAT coverage to drive in Peru and transit cops will ask to see it. You can purchase SOAT in Tacna which is about 25 miles (40 km) from the border. When we were in Argentina we bought SOAT coverage that covers us in multiple countries, including Peru, so we were all set.

Where to fill up: Fuel is marginally cheaper in Arica, Chile than it is in Tacna, Peru.

Need to know: You need four forms to cross from Chile into Peru (each is stamped and retained at a different stage of the process). You used to have to pay for these forms at this border, for reasons that remained a mystery, but the forms are now free in the new combined-formalities immigration building. Luggage is x-rayed at this border. Aduana (customs) officials asked us to x-ray the bags in the cab of our truck and two duffel bags from the back but didn’t seem to care about any of the other many bags and bins in the back of our truck. They did confiscate a banana. No fruits and vegetables are allowed to cross.

Also, be aware that the time changes between Peru and Chile from mid August to mid May (we gained two hours when we crossed into Peru from Chile in October, for example) because Chile is one of the few South American countries which observes Daylight Savings Time. So factor that in. 

If you’re driving across the border in a non-Peruvian vehicle be aware that officials in Peru are very serious about their time limits, as they should be. Technically speaking, officials can confiscate your vehicle if you overstay its temporary importation permit. We found this out the hard way during a previous crossing when two blowouts on the highways delayed us. When we tried to cross 24 hours after our truck permit expired we were sent back to Tacna and told to visit the customs office. We spent  two days there presenting evidence of the blowouts, filling out forms in Spanish, and begging to be forgiven, which we ultimately were. The experience helped inspire this slightly snarky post about run ins at the border.

Tacna travel tip

If you cross late and need to spend the night in Tacna (bummer), Hotel Siglo 21 is a good bed. Around 65 PEN or about US$20 got us a private double with a bathroom, decent Wi-Fi, and ample parking plus breakfast. Not in the center, but close enough is Hotel Le Prince which is a bit pricier but still a bargain if you want something that’s trying hard to be hip and has a Netflix enabled TV. There’s a sister Le Prince hotel in Arica, Chile too.

Duty free: No

Overall border rating: Any border we can cross in 35 minutes gets an A+ from us.

 

Here’s more about travel in Chile

Here’s more about travel in Peru

 

Support us on Patreon


4 Comments - Join the conversation »


Page 2 of 16612345255075Last»