Visiting the The Nazca Lines in Peru
Flying over the Nazca Lines
The Discovery of The Nazca Lines
The world-famous lines of Nazca are are a series of lines and shapes dug into the hard rock of the high plains of Southern Peru. Historical dating of the lines has been estimated to be between 1500 and 2500 years old although modern man only became aware of the lines by pure chance in the 1920's.
In 1927 a Peruvian archaeologist by the name of Toribio Mejia Xesspe was trekking through the foothills of the area. He made some inspections and analysis and presented his findings to a conference, although this was not until 12 years later. The following year, a historian from the Long Island University by the name of Paul Vosok, with new aviation technology at his disposal, took a flight over the foothills in which Xesspe had seen the lines in the ground.
Vosok first noticed lines that looked to be in the shape of a bird. He later spotted other lines with interesting characteristics and so began the first detailed study of what would come to be known as the Nazca Lines. Today, thousands of people from all over the world come to the tiny dusty town of Nazca to follow Vosok into the sky to gaze down at the network of lines.
The Nazca Lines Viewed from the Air
Who Created the Nazca Lines
I’ve often heard people claim that the Peruvian Nazca Lines are the unofficial eighth wonder of the world. I’ve heard that about a lot of places including, amongst others, 2000-year-old Banyan Tree in Yangshuo County, China. I’ve seen this tree and if it really is 2000 years old then it’s mighty impressive. Eighth wonder of the world impressive? Not a chance! As for the Nazca Lines? No, not really.
I don’t know why the Nazca people created all these lines out in the desert, and neither does anyone conclusively. I’m fascinated by the nazca Lines theories though. My favourite one is the Nazca Lines alien astronaut theory: the one that alludes to the Nazca people being in communication with aliens and that these lines are landing strips and messages to the people from the world above. When I travelled to Peru I knew that I'd make a stop at Nazca and do a flight over the Nazca Lines.
Nazca Lines Map
Location of the Nazca Lines
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Peruvian Nazca Lines is located just outside the small dusty town of Nazca in in the Ica region of Southern Peru. Although the town has an airport, it is principally used for light aircraft operating Nazca Lines tours. It's not possible to fly into Nazca on a commercial airline.
Travelling from either Lima, 450km to the North, or from Arequipa, 550km to the South East. Travelling by public bus is the cheapest option but it is possible to hire a driver or to join an organised tour. The area in which the Nazca Lines are located is a high Andean plateau which is hot, dry and generally windy. This has the resulting effect that the landscape doesn't 'weather' and has pretty much remained the same for thousands of years. It's little wonder then that the Nazca Lines have remained wonderfully intact since their construction almost 2000 years ago. It's just another intriguing aspect of the Nazca Lines mystery: did the Nazca people know that the lines they were creating would potentially be preserved for thousands of years?
Arranging a Nazca Lines Flight
We arrived in the little town of Nazca at 7.30am on an overnight bus from Arequipa. We’d heard that the touts would harangue us at the bus station to try and sell us Nazca Lines tours with their uncle whose a pilot or offer us a room in some tine shed. The touts were there but we walked on by and took a taxi straight to the airport for 4 soles.
At the airport we approached the sales desk of each company to obtain information and prices. I did my best to try and play them off against each other to get the best price. I never was much of a negotiator though so I quit whilst I was ahead after getting five bucks knocked off the first price I got. I was happy with the price though. I’d been told that many paid almost twice as much as the $75US that we paid and what was even better was that we got to go immediately rather than having to wait around for other seats to be sold: our plane was full and ready to take us up into the air to explore this wonderful Nazca Lines mystery.
Nazca Lines Astronaut
Nazca Lines Flight
The Nazca Lines flight took about 30 minutes. It was a little bumpy in places and hot as hell: I had a few waves of sickness pass through me but managed to hold it in. After all I hadn’t eaten anything for 13 hours or more. The pilot handed us each a glossy Nazca Lines map that showed the route we were taking and all the different shapes we were going to fly over. These included all the popular ones such as the Nazca Lines monkey, the Nazca Lines bird, the Nazca Lines astronaut etc. I had my digital camera in my hand ready to take lots of Nazca Lines photo's.
Nazca Lines Spider
Nazca Lines Theories
I enjoy reading books like this for the entertainment value. I don't necessarily believe in these theories as I go for the more scientific evidence-based approach but it's a fun read and fun to let your imagination get some exercise. Includes references to the Peruvian Nazca Lines.
Flying Over the Nazca Lines
The Lines of Nazca were surprisingly hard to spot. I kind of thought they’d be really bright white lines but in reality the whole terrain below is just a single sandy yellow. You have to look hard to see the indentations of the Nazca Lines. It’s cool when you do see them though.
They’re not as big as I thought they’d be either. Some of the geometric shapes and the continuous lines though, they go on and on and cover a huge distance. It really makes you think about the Nazca Lines mystery when you're up in the sky seeing these huge shapes on the ground. Just what were they built for?
Nazca Lines Photo
Nazca Lines Theories Poll
Do you believe in the Alien Astronaut Theorres?
When the flight was over transport was provided back to town. The town of Nazca is dusty, dirty and dull. We had no intention of staying so we asked a chap to direct us to the bus to Ica. He pointed over to a bus waiting on the side of the highway. We ran over with our bags and just made it on board before it pulled away. All in all we were in and out of Nazca within 2 and a half hours and on our way to the next town.
Nazca Lines Flight
Check out my other Peru-related Travel Articles
- Machu Picchu (Part One): The Inca Jungle Trail
Everyone's heard about Machu Picchu and the Inca's. This article is about a 4-day trek to the ancient Machu Picchu wonder of the world.
- Visiting Machu Picchu (Part Two)
The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is truly a wonder of the world. Machu Picchu and the Incas have fascinated historians and travellers for many years but nothing quite prepares you for seeing it!