For anyone who wishes to experience the long heritage of Peru and its indigenous people, the Nazca Lines are an absolute must-see. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has baffled scientists and archaeologists ever since the time of their discovery. But the thing that most people don’t understand, is that the Nazca lines are just one of many reasons why the Nazca region is such a spectacular place.
Who were the Nasca?
The Nazca lived in the deserts of southern Peru between the times of 100 BCE, and 750 CE. They were descendants of the Paracas, which was an important pre-Inca culture that, by developing agriculture, made it possible for the Nazca to thrive. This brilliant culture eventually had its downfall, thanks mostly by the devastation wrought by floods that came with a strong el nino. In their wake, they left behind some of the most incredible constructions that mankind has ever known.
Why did the Nazca build these lines?
There are many ideas as to why the Nazca people built these magnificent lines. According to the theories of scientists, the Nazca people made them as a homage to the celestial beings that they saw in the skies. These figures etched into the ground were therefore meant to depict their Gods.
There are over 300 linear designs etched onto the surface of the Nazca desert. They include straight lines, triangles, rectangles, trapezoids, swirls, and zigzags, as well as primitive plant and animal patterns. Some of these lines stretch into the distance for more than 30 miles. Others are as large as the Empire State Building. We still don’t know for sure what purpose these lines served, but it is agreed that they played a crucial role in the development of pre-Inca Nazca cultures.
Mysteries surrounding the origin of these enormous pictographs inspire many conspiracy theories and fantasies, including theories that they were built by aliens. This view was first popularized by Erich von Daniken who claimed that the Nazca Lines were drawn by ancient astronauts. This is clearly a fringe perspective, but there are still many who believe it.
The Nazca lines appear other-worldly when seen from above. If you can do it, then do it.
From a view tower alongside the road, it’s possible to see several of these magnificent lines, but we recommend that you get a view from the air. You can book a seat on a small plane for about 75$, and the trip will last around 30 minutes, taking you over all of the major sites of Nazca. Flights are available daily, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A perfect place between three major cities
If you are traveling by bus, it is a great place to stop and spend some time. The town of Nazca is a go-through point on the overland route between Cusco and Lima, and is also within 9 hours of Arequipa. Stay in town, and give yourself a couple of days to explore the region.