The Nasca desert has a long history in which ceramics, hydraulic engineering and architecture filled with life and color a space marked by the dunes, the richness of its sea and the Andean mountain range.
The desert is a living medium. At the top of Cerro Blanco, the mountain of sand that dominates the mountain range, colorful butterflies fly. From its summit, at 2,080 meters above the level, lovers of sandboarding are launched by a nearly vertical wall of one kilometer in length. In its lower part, surrounded by stones and more sands, the cactus rises defying the dryness of one of the most arid places of Peru.
Beyond, after crossing the desert towards the sea, is San Fernando, a magical bay in which otters, wolves and penguins live, the condors are planted on it, and it is the only place on the Peruvian coast where it is possible Watch guanacos. These camelids came from the heights of the Andes, of what is the Pampa Galeras National Reserve, the protected area that preserves the largest population of vicuñas, located 4,000 meters high and two hours from Nasca. From the coastal desert to the Andean puna, from the 500 meters of the coast to the four thousand of the sierra, the rapid and abrupt transition that is made traveling the Cuesta del Borracho, the curvilinear section of the road that links Nasca with Cusco.
In Pampa Galeras, between foxes, vicuñas and guanacos, the ichu that covers its surface, becomes intense gold at dusk as if it were a kind of blinding desert, and at night the sky, blue and black at the same time, is cold and starry .
The desert is a living medium as well, because the culture that populated it about two thousand years ago, created channels and aqueducts that collect the waters of the Andes, thus tame the barren and create fields and cities that supported thousands of people . Like Cahuachi a citadel of 24 km2 formed by 32 pyramids, almost all covered with sand, that was the epicenter of one of the most fascinating cultures that the country has had. And it shows of its geoglyphs, lines that represent animals, personages and geometries like propitiatory symbols and calendars in their agricultural rituals and around the water.
A water that has always been lacking but that the nascas knew to obtain of the mountains that are above. Channels and aqueducts, such as Cantalloc, are still used today. Sources of water that even in the driest periods stopped flowing. Archeologists say that 15 centuries ago Nasca had more quantity and availability of water than the city has today. They were constructed with boulders and beams of huarango, and have accesses in the form of a spiral that lead to their interior.
Usaca and Cerro Marcha are two deserts that surround the city of Nasca. The first one arrives in an hour, the second in about five in four-by-four pickups. In them the most beautiful dunes are preserved, which form silhouettes and enigmatic textures against the sky, where sanders descend on impossible slopes, and where butterflies fly, which do not know where they come from, and foxes run, and twisted trees live, and Millennial as the Huarangos, and the cactus continue defying the sands. Making of these deserts, of the desert in general, a place where life also manifests itself as best knows how to do it.