After a few days exploring the ancient sites in the Sacred Valley, it was time to head to the coast. Leaving Moray, the drive took us through some beautiful high plateau farming land before descending and ascending in seemingly endless succession.
We started the drive at about 3,500m above sea level and during the next two days, climbed up and down countless mountain switchbacks to 1,800m then up again to over 4,500m.
The scenery in this region is usually farming land and small villages lined with tiny cafes and street stalls.
Although Moray to Nasca isn’t that far in Australian driving terms, when your average speed is 50km an hour, you don’t get far in a day.
We found ourselves needing to stop for the day at a high mountain road Peaje (toll) station for the night. We were welcomed warmly by the security guard, who is there to ensure the safety of all who pass through this place plus the staff in the toll booth. Yes, we could park and stay here overnight. He showed us exactly where to park – right beside the toll booth where someone was on duty all night and could ‘watch out’ for our safety. Then he made us coffee, gave us crackers, had us sign his guest book – all with a gun in his holster!
The ‘tranquillo’ that he described must have been inside the lounge where we drank our coffee. The trucks came and went ALL night at 5 minute intervals. It’s a very busy road. Tranquillo it was not! Surprisingly we slept. In the morning a farmer herded his cattle between us and the trucks along the roadside, just as he had probably done since the road was a track.
The road continued up and down, past rocky valleys full of herds of alpacas being watched by shepherds (who are often women sitting knitting), tiny stone huts, a couple of larger not so attractive towns.
Eventually we entered the dry zone or desert country as we descended past Cerro Blanco, the world’s highest sand dune, and into the town of Nasca.