The best way to appreciate the Nazca Lines is to view them from above.
We took a "flightseeing" tour of the Lines, and we learned quite a bit about the Nazca Lines, the people who designed them, and Dr. Maria Reiche who brought the Lines to the attention of the world. The small airport in Ica is really cute, and doubles as a learning center. We watched a great video there, before boarding our plane.
The plane we used was a Cessna, and the pilot flew very low (around 2000 feet) over the lines, dipping and banking and turning all the time so that we could get the best views possible.
There were hard candies in the seat pockets in case we felt nauseous - which I did (might be a good idea to take a dramamine or some kind of travel sickness medication before doing this). That's why I wasn't able to share any decent photos - I was too busy concentrating on seeing the designs but not throwing up in the plane!
All in all, it's the best way to go and I would recommend this adventure to anyone who thrills to unanswered mystery....
Note: I have more info on this in my "Transportation Tips" section.
Well, if you have such a question, then do not miss to visit a wine/snaps family-factory producer.
We have been to El Catador, the most wellknown of the city. (just ask on the street and take a taxi to the factory, that is outside the city, off course!)
They will be more then glad to show you how they do produce the wine and the snaps.
After a 2 hours "tour" where you will learn all the steps of the process, you will be drive to taste all their kinds of wine and snaps.
It was so cool, but keep in mind not to go there at 09AM!!!
There is also a nice small shop there where to buy some sample, but with NO pressure form the owners.
They are so nice!
The visit costs just 3USD each.
There are several ways to see the Nazca Lines. There is a tower along the PanAmerican Highway, from which you can see two of the formations.
However, to really see the lines, if you're so inclined, your best bet is to take a flight. Tourist flights run out of Lima, Ica and Nazca, in order of price.
We booked a flight on AeroCondor from the Las Dunas Sun Resort in Ica, at a cost of $140 per person (credit cards accepted). We were taken by bus to the hotel's airfield, where we waited in a comfortable seating area (no pre-flight video, though I did see a video room...). After taking care of airport taxes ($5 per person) and giving passport numbers, etc., we boarded a 12-passenger plane and took off. The flight down to Nazca was easy enough - mostly over brown mountains. Once we got there, we turned around in the air and the pilots began pointing out the drawings, first banking the plane for the people on the left, then again for those on the right.
Of the six of us, 2 really got sick and the rest of us felt a little green by the end of all the turning. I took ginger capsules before I left, and had some crystallized ginger to chew on as we flew. But still, it was a little gut-wrenching. Most of the drawings are easy enough to spot, although there are many "lines" across the desert, for what purpose, I don't know.
The flight lasted about an hour and a half, and after the twisting and turning, it was a smooth ride again back to Ica. A souvenir shop is on site if you can manage it after the flight.
Note: Best to plan on a morning flight - we had reserved for the afternoon, but when we arrived in town they said they didn't have any more room for us that day.
We went to the very touristy El Catador and to the less visited but equally interesting Vista Allegre.
El Catador is good to see the traditional method of processing the grape, while Vista Allegre will give you an idea of the modern methods now in use.
Both vineyards have friendly staff who will give you a tour of the place. Both charge nothing if you buy at least one product. Both offer a variety of pisco and wines in 75cl bottles or smaller sizes. Prices are cheap but not much cheaper than in supermarkets.
We tried Vista Allegre's wines which are OK but that's it. We were told they only export to South America and a bit to the US because the quality is not high enough to justify shipping elsewhere.
Both Bogedas can be visited in one day although they are at opposing ends from Ica's centre.
NB: Directions on where to take the collectivo for El Catador in Footprint guide are wrong.
While in South America, I never tired of mummies, elongated craniums or pre-inca and inca potteries.
The ground floor of this nice museum is full of them and also has some magnificent woven inca clothes. The cloth is so fine and the colours so vibrant, you won't believe your eyes. Their master piece was stolen a couple of years ago, which is a great shame but what is left is more than worth the visit.
The second floor is a display of Spanish period furniture and paintings. Not my cup of tea but nice enough.
Outisde, behind the museum you will find a more or less derelict model of the Nazca lines with a little tower to see it all.
Entrance was 11 (5 for students) soles in 2005 + 2 soles photo permit if you want to take pix (no flash)
Picture 1: a mummy
Picture 2: Woven poncho
Pepe the Condor was rescued as a baby and can be found in the small zoo behind the Ica airport. The attendants will take out the condor and you can touch and pet him. They will expect a small tip afterwards.
Huacachina is about 4km west of Ica and is featured on the back of the Peruvian 50 Sol banknote. It is a tiny resort village set in a desert oasis. The lagoon is surrounded by graceful palm trees and dominating sand dunes.
In the middle od this dessert there is a little place called Paracas. A natural refugee to thousands of birds and home to a wonderfull formation called "La Catedral". The speed boats make it now a lot faster and easier to get to the the islands, en route you will get to see the Chandelier (el Candelabro) formation whose origin is still unknown, some say its the cultura Paracas, some say it was the Dannish pirates as a sailing sign or a masonic lodge symbol. Either way, its amazing after all this years is still there. 32 by 90mts long it hasnt dessapear moreover, the ocean breeze makes the figure harden. From there youll be taken to the Ballestas Islands, where you can even see some penguins, el pinguino Humbolt. And dont forget the Catedral on the Paracas Reserve site, just a 10k walk, or take the tour and theyll take you around the park. A must if you are in Ica.
Things to do in Nazca
The Nazca Lines
In the Nazca region, scattered over 500 square kilometres of an arid plateau between the Nazca River and Ingenio River, exist huge representations of geometric patterns, animals, humans figures and thousands of perfectly straight lines that go on for kilometres.
The images on the ground are so huge, that the only way to fully observe them is only from the sky. Its real purpose is unknown, nobody actually knows who made them or why?
Flying over the Nazca desert you can marvel looking at the perfect shape of a monkey, a spider, a while, a lizard and various types of birds, including humming birds, sea birds, and the mighty Andean Condor. These strange figures are more than 2000 years old, and they are known as The Nazca Lines. For further information we highly recommend visiting http://www.mysteryperu.com/co_nazca_lines.html , and also check out at the Nazca Lines map at http://www.mysteryperu.com/assets/mapa_nasca.jpg
The Palpa Lines
According to recent archaeological studies the first drawings were made in the Valleys of Palpa and Rio Grande. It is said that 3000 years ago our ancestors used the flat surface of the mountains and the slopes of the hills to draw huge geometric figures and human representations. Archaeologist today believe that the figures were made to pleased ancient gods, who apparently were believed to control the forces of nature, such as; earthquakes, drought and floods.
Nowadays visitors may observe all these wonders of the past, flying over the zone on our small aircrafts, specially designed with large panoramic windows and good comfort to take great pictures. For further information we highly recommend visiting http://www.mysteryperu.com/co_palpa_lines.html, and also check out the Palpa Lines map at http://www.mysteryperu.com/assets/mapa_palpa.jpg
Written by: Enrique Levano Alarcon.
Included in lodging Sat. night @ Hacienda is a candle-lit dinner served by "monks" (Monks originally owned land and vinyard). Acustic Peruvian folk music is played while you are served a first-rate meal. Complementary glass of Ocucaje wine is also served during your dinner in original wine cava (bats and all). Children are cared for by hacienda nanny while parents enjoy a romantic dinner. (Kids roast marshmellows at bonfire outside and watch a movie)
Ica its a small but pleasant town. Visit the Huacachina Lake and the Ica Museum, very interesting. In the sand dunes of Ica is possible to make sandsurfing. The town has also a small market of handicrafts.
Ica fue fundada en 1536 por el español Jerónimo de Cabrera. Le dió a Ica el nombre de "Villa de Valverde". La ciudad estaba en mitad de un fértil valle. Antes de la fundación, los españoles plantaron uvas que trajeron de las Islas Canarias.
Ica fue la primera ciudad en "Nueva Castilla" (Perú en tiempos del Virreinato) donde el vino y licor de uvas fué producida, y desde aquí fue exportada a todas las colonias españolas de América. Se usaba el puerto de Pisco para embarcar el licor de uva, originando el nombre de uno de los más famosos licores del Perú.
En la actualidad la ciudad continúa siendo un lugar placentero, entre dunas del desierto y huarangos y con un clima espléndido. Ica es recomendado como punta de partida para visitar hacia el Sur las LÍNEAS Y GEOGLIFOS DE NASCA Y PALPA.
Alberga la venerada imagen del Señor de Lurén, la que fue recuperada de un naufragio en 1570 frente a las costas de Ica. Patrón de Ica, congrega a miles de peregrinos durante la Semana Santa y el tercer Lunes de Octubre en tradicionales procesiones. Gente devota le atribuye muchos milagros.
La iglesia data de 1943
Este importante museo exhie numerosas e interesantes piezas de las distintas etapas culturales de la región. Sobresalen los cerámicos, textiles y evidencias de las prácticas médicas de las culturas Paracas y Nasca, además hay colecciones de la época colonial, independencia y época republicana.
Es un canal de regadío incaico de 500 años de antiguedad. Según la leyenda el Inca Pacachutec ordenó su construcción como prueba de amor que despertó en él una joven de la localidad. Actualemente provee de agua a más de 11000 hectáreas de cultivo.