For as archaeologically significant and mysterious as the Nasca Lines of Peru are, amazingly, they are still relatively unknown. (Nasca is also spelled Nazca. My research has shown that Nasca is the spelling favored by scholars and therefore that is the spelling I will use here.) First, what are they? Simply, they are ancient geoglyphs in the Nasca Desert of southern Peru. Second, who made them and when? They were designed by the ancient Nasca Culture between 500 BCE and 500 CE (or 500 BC and 500 AD). Third, how and why were they created? Well, here’s the rub, no one is really sure. But there are a lot of theories.
Beyond all of the mystery and the stats of the what, where and how, all you need to know is that the Nasca Lines are the most beautiful archeological site you will ever see – of course this is my very subjective opinion. I was enamored and captivated by the intricacies of each design. The best (and only) way to see them is to get up in a plane. I hopped in a 8 seater Cessna 207 for $70 USD. Plus, you will need to pay a s/.25 (soles) airport tax. I went with AeroParacas. The tour was arranged through our hostel, Hospedaje Barbant. I was picked up in the morning, brought to the airport and returned to my hostel after the tour. The total time for the tour was 2 hours, door to door. I was told not to eat anything before the tour due to the possibility of motion sickness. But, I ate breakfast and had no issues. If you’re worried, plastic bags are provided in the airplane just in case.
The 1/2 hour tour is guided by two pilots, one who focuses on flying the plane and the other who guides you through the Nasca Lines in English. You have a handy map in hand to help you identify the lines – some are hard to see. But, the pilots expertly turn around each beautiful design and point out where to look and what to look for.
At the end of the tour, the pilots give you a certificate with your name and a map of what you saw. You can also get your passport stamped – do this, the stamp is very cool.
If you’re wondering if the trip to Nasca is worth it, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering if it’s in your budget to pay the $70 USD for the plane tour, the answer is yes. The Nasca Lines are threatened by animals and squatters and also some idiots who have sketched their names in the desert near some of the designs. Also, the town is small and charming. There are good restaurants and several other things to do and see beyond the Nasca lines such as the largest sand dune in the world, Cerro Blanco; Chauchilla Cemetery, with pre-hispanic mummified human remains; and, ancient aqueducts called The Puquios. Go to Nasca, you will not be disappointed!