Well, in this report a quite variety of flights will be covered. From the B767-300ER (the type most widely used) to the “tiny” Cessna Skyhawk. In total, it has 7 sectors and 3 different aircraft types.
The objective of the trip was to go from here (Punta del Este, Uruguay) to Lima, and to visit the beautiful country Peru is. To get there, I bought tickets with Lan from Montevideo (MVD) to Lima (LIM) (and return) via Santiago (SCL). In Santiago there was an, about, 3 hours waiting time.
Once in Peru I would depart with bus to the south, towards Nazca, where, as you know, in de desert lay some lines made by an old Peruvian culture. This lines form complex figures that can only be seen from the sky. There are many small companys that offer short flights over the lines. I took one… which is included in the report.
After Nazca, after wondering some days on the desert, I returned to Lima (by bus) The second part of the trip, the highlands, was next. I flew with a Lan A320 to the old inkan capital, Cusco, totally beautiful. This short 55 minute flight is (of course!) also included.
After visiting Cusco (city, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, “et all”) I continued with bus to Puno, in the shores of Lake Titicaca (bus trip NOT included! ) After visiting the lake, I took ANOTHER bus to Arequipa. Now it was time to fly. I returned by another Lan A320 to Lima, flight which is of course included. On this, the first part, only are included the flights until Nazca.
The next day I returned back to Uruguay.
Well, lets now start.
MONTEVIDEO SANTIAGO LIMA
My flight departed to Santiago from the city of Montevideo (about 130km away from Punta del Este) at 16:00, February 15. Having packed the previous day, after lunch I slowly departed towards Montevideo.
Once at the airport (Carrasco) it became once more obvious to me that a whole new terminal is urgent. The airport, is very old and small, and until a few years ago it didn’t had any jet bridges. Now it has one… however the system is weird and still demands you to take a bus to immigrations, as there isn’t any internal way from the jet bridge to immigrations. Don’t worry, if you use Carrasco, its most likely you will go to a remote stand either way.
Well, I proceeded direct to the Lan check in. It was the first time I flew with them, and check in was really efficient. Ina a minute was my turn… and I had barely time to ask for the LANPASS inscription. In a few minutes the process was ready. That wasn’t like that when flying other airlines, as Pluna, Continental, Copa or Lufthansa.
Before getting “airside”, I ate a sandwich at a very nice restaurant, with view to the runway, “Porto Vanilla” (It isn’t the one on the main hall, go up the stairs, its worth it)
As soon I passed immigration, security, and all that, it was time to board… good, I wasn’t expecting them to board that soon! In Montevideo, you board via the bus system, even if your plane uses THE (there is only one) jet bridge, as you need to get bused to it (at least they say that)
I was the last one to get in the bus… so I was the first one to get to the plane. The 767 looked beautiful. I was really expecting an A320, my theory is that for the summer, they switched the normal A320 for a 767, correct me if I am wrong.
The boarding was very organized (although it was made via buses) The FAs friendly, and the boarding music very soothing.
Soon, an “English speaking man” sat next to me. That was good, as I could practice. He explained to me how United States works (States, Counties, all that) Very interesting.
The man went to sleep, and the security video was displayed… I like a lot the security video of Lan, not so much the images, but the music it has. Very very nice.
We slowly taxied to the runway….
And took off!
Some 20 minutes later we cruised over Buenos Aires, I had an explendid view.
Nearly at that time service (a sandwich) was provided. It want only a sandwich…. It was a COLD sandwich. It wasn’t very good actually. I expected something better.
It was around this time the guy next to me awaked (to eat) and threw his coke over me. Luckily, only my sock were “reached”… but still, it was all wet. I gave him my servette.
The flight continued flawlessly over Argentina. I was really excited at the view of the Andes, it was the first time I would cross it. It was clear all the way, but to my desperation, just when the Andes were coming, a huge blanket of clouds appeared, blocking totally the view. Only after the Andes the clouds cleared, and I took some pictures, although the impressive part was all covered.
The approach into Santiago is impressive. They announce the descent, preper for landing, etc… but nothing happens. Suddenly, the air brakes pop out of the wings, and the plane starts to come down rock like. We passed very close to terrain as we make turns right and left. Finally we land.
At the apron an Air France plane was waiting.
In Santiago, if you are in transit, you don’t have to make immigration, baggage picking, nothing. I only pass a small security check and you are at the airside. SCL is a beautiful airport, however waiting 3 hours is enough… so I was happy when they called for boarding.
But before... a LAN 767 came on my lens.
This time on the 767 I was alone on my seat pair. That was also good. How it was dark, I didn’t took a lot of pics, just this one of SCL.
The plane soon departed. The Fas were all a joy to treat. They made all the passengers feel welcome. For dinner I ate fish (yes, fish… how could I eat fish on a plane?) which, to my surprise, was tasty. The tray included colored napkins, metal knife and forks, and even a glass cup. The plate was covered by the aluminum foil, but was of porcelain! The service was impressive.
After that the lights were dimmed, and I took a little nap (I was really tired)
Just before descent to Lima, the crews handed out the immigration and customs forms. On the custom form you have to pay attention. Have you noticed that part when they ask you questions that the answer is always “NO”. Well, one of their answers is “YES”. Are you retiring all the baggage? “YES”. I almost didn’t noticed and marked “NO”, as usual.
Well, I arrived at Lima on time, on a beautiful night. Lima airport (Jorge Chavez) is very nice and modern. The first part of the trip was complete!
NAZCA OVER FLY
The only way to appreciate the Nazca Lines is to over fly them. For that purpose, there are several little companys that for about 25 dollars give you a 35 minute ride over some lines. I took one of these flights.
The airport (Maria Reiche) is a very busy airport of little planes taking tourists on the tour. When you get to the companys offices, you are shown an informative video of the lines. When the video is finished, some forty minutes later, the fun part begins.
As the pilot knew I was an aviation enthusiast, I got the seat at the front, next to him (this was a Cessna Skyhawk, of four seats, in one the pilot is. Much like a car) Climbing into the seat is pretty complicated, but it can be done. After seated, the personell puts your seatbelts on (they are pretty complicated) and the pilot hands out the headphones. Through the headphones he would explain the figures, and talk to us. We were also going to be able to hear ATC. As soon as we were ready, it was time to go.
I never before flew on such a small aircraft. Its indeed an incredible experience. Its less a complex machine to turn more human, you feel lie a bird.
We were soon after the first line. The pilot announced over the headphones that he was going to point at the figure with the wing. “Just look at the wingtip, down there is the figure”.
“OK, ten seconds, to the right, whale figure, 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9… NOW!”
The plane suddenly turned right, with the wing pointing straight to the ground. It was a really steep turn, and the stall indicator started ringing “beep beep”. The pilot noticed where I was looking and said: “Oh, don’t worry. Its just because of the turn rate”
Now with the figures, I was a little disappointed. I thought they were big, obvious things. Howewer, they were small, and hard to see. Really hard to see. Here are some pics, probably most of you wont see them, its almost impossible to spt them on the pics, howewer try. Once you see the first one, the others are easy.
Well, this figure, the Astronaut, is the easiest, this you’ll clearly see.
About the turns, well, it’s a weird feeling to turn so much, it wasn’t nice. We spottedlike 10 figures, at the eight I really wanted to return… you actually are a little pale on landing.
After the flight, I needed about one hour of seating still to stabilize.
Well, this is turning into a really long flight report. The Lima Cusco, Arequipa Lima, Lima Montevideo via Santiago are still missing. That will be on a second part, which I will post soon.
Hope you enjoyed the first part!