Search for ancient astronauts (not)
You need to leave at least an the entire morning (and then some) for your flight across the Nazca lines. Our experience was that delays are common, and this should be allowed for in one's schedule. The fights themselves take only about 30 minutes, but including waiting time we were told that we'd be away for about two and a half hours.
We booked our flight for 10am departure from the travel agency, expecting to get back for late lunch before a bus onward to Arequipa at 3pm. The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agly......i%
We arrived at just before 10am for our ride to Maria Reiche airport. Sorry, delay of an hour. Cue further impromptu tour of the dusty streets of Nazca. Back at 11am but still no sign of the bus. Never fear, it was only a few minutes later that we were off to the airport, which itself is just minutes from town. We could hear and see light planed buzzing around as we approached - and headed for the offices of Alas Peruana, where we were to enjoy a video about the famous lines, before further waiting ensued.
We decided to split our group of 3 as a vacancy had shown up on an earlier flight, so I left my brother and his partner to watch more videos for a drive around from the company office to the terminal. It was about 11:30am. There were many folk milling about, waiting. Half a dozen planes stood on the tarmac in front of the terminal, also waiting.My name was put on a manifest (including my weight), with two others to form our group.We were introduced to our pilot Mirkko, who told us it would be '20 minutes' before our flight.Forty minutes later, my brother and partner showed up! But at about 12:30pm, I was through security and walking across the tarmac to our aircraft. I took the co-pilot's seat (most planes take 3 passengers).
After Mirrkko had completed a series of checks we taxied to the end of the runway and set off. Mirkko advised that we should look beneath the wingtip at each figure as he called each one out. There would be a turn to the left, then to the right, to ensure that we all had the chance to view the geoglyphs.
After takeoff, and a view across Nazca, the first figure seen is the 'Whale', and thence some geometric shapes - triangles and lines, following a long run across barren hills to the main set of figures. En route we passed the 'Astronaut', inscribed into a hillside. Then on to the 'Monkey' (he of the long curled tail), the 'Dog', the 'Condor', the 'Spider' (very clear) and on it's own flat topped hill, the 'Hummingbird'. This was the furthest extent of the flight, and we now turned back toward Nazca, passing the 'Flamingo', and the 3 figures surrounding the Observation tower - 'Parrot', 'Tree' and 'Hand'. Thence a long return to the airport, passing over the town before landing
The flight took just 30 minutes, but seemed much shorter. No one got airsick, and G forces from turns were only just discernible. Back at the terminal the rest of our group were yet to be airborne. it was after 1pm. Just a bit of tension re bus schedules!
But they were off and back within the hour, and we were back at Hotel Alklegra to collect our goods and chattels for the bus trip to Arequipa with oh 30 minutes to spare. piece of cake!
We paid US$50 in 2008. The price is now about twice that. But well worth the time.
- Road Trip
Flying over the Nazca lines is pretty amazing, just to see in detail the figures below, spider, astronaut, toucan etc. How did these people make these, when and why. Syill nobody can provide the answer--aliens! I don't think so. Plenty of places in Nazca offer flights in light planes for around $60. Take this trip, it's really worth it. In fact there is no point visiting the lines if you are not going to fly over them, otherwise you see nothing.
Best way to see this is to be on a boat out at sea, as you can still glimpse it from 10 kms out. The Paracas Candelabra, as its known locally is 2 feet deep into the rocky hill and probably more than 2000 years old. Locals believe that it is the representation of the staff of the god Viracocha who is well known all over South America.
- Historical Travel
When you are in Nazca and after you have seen the Lines take a trip to see the Ballestas islands where you will see Humboldt Penguins and Pacific Sea Lions in their natural habitat, and there will be many! While on the boat you should have a chance to see dolphins too. Birds are plentiful including cormorants, boobies and pelicans. The sea lions can be seen on the rocky beaches but the penguins usually hang out by small caves. You can arrange tours from Lima or there is a travel agent in Nazca that offers tours to the islands. Alegria Tours, www.nazcaperu.com
View the lines
Of course that is The thing to do in Nazca.
The weather can be a concern. Bad viz means no flights as you could see nothing at all. We went early in the morning but sometimes fligts cannot go that early and have to wait for the mist to clear. Maybe the best tactic is to go early and see what happens?
We used Aero Moche as they seemed to have good planes and a good organisation.
I would advise to actually go to the airport & see the different companies, their offices & planes rather than buying tickets from touts in town. That way you are sure to pay a fair price & not hand over money to someone actually not connected at all to a company & you can check the planes yourself.
We paid $80 per person back in 2005.
- Arts and Culture
Aerial Tour of Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines in the Nazca desert in Peru have been intriguing mankind ever since they were discovered in 1901 by Max Ulhe, a Peruvian archaeologist. Hailed as one of the world's unresolved mysteries, they were declared an Archaeological World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. One of the best ways to truly appreciate these fascinating signatures of an ancient civilization is from high above the sky.
The Nazca Lines were scratched on the surface of the vast Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau between 300 B.C. and 800 A.D. Cut into this stony desert are large number of geometric drawings and plant and animal etchings that spread across 500 square kilometres of the parched, rocky Pampa. There are also designs such as a dog, an enormous monkey, a bird with a wing span of over 100 meters, a spider and a tree. The lines, that represent some sort of vast astronomical pre-Inca calendar, are best seen from the air.
With virtually no insight into this mysterious civilization, the stylized form of the Nazca Lines will fuel your imagination and set you thinking about Peru’s history and ancient civilizations.
Take a small air craft ride to see Nazca Lines
To see Nazca lines from air, you can either go directly to the Airport Maria Reiche to buy a ride from numerous companies there....or contact your local tour agent for drop off & pickup
airport tax is 20 soles as of feb 2010
About USD $50 to $55 a ride
Soar over the Pampas
Let's get right to it, las lineas de Nasca are the main reason to visit the city. And what is the best way to see the drawings: flying of course! This is quite an adventure. Like i said in the Nazca intro, ask around town at the various travel agencies for the best price. I'd like to recommend NC Travel, it was $55 per person. The cheapest I found and they picked you and dropped you off at your hotel. Another great thing for those that can't speak spanish very well, they speak english at NC travel. Once you are picked up they take you to Hotel Nido del Condor, you'll watch a 45 minute video about the history and study of the Nasca Lines. This video is only in spanish. From here you are shuttled to the airport. Check in and then pay the 20 soles for the use of the airport. Again yes i think to pay to "use" the airport is a big scam, but you have to pay or you can board your plane tour.
Beware: Don't eat before the plane tour, if you might have a weak stomach. The pilots are great, they do a wonderful manuvour where they turn almost sideways to allow better viewing. Doing this side turn twice at each drawing, allowing for the left and right sides to view, can really begin to turn the stomach!
- Historical Travel
- Adventure Travel
You can go on to Nasca and stay there (e.g. Hotel Maison Suisse, just in front of the Nasca airport) in order to overfly the lines the next morning (with AeroIca) and then return to Lima in the afternoon.
Have a look at:
http://www.aeroica.net/home.html (also info about the hotel, they work together closely).
Another option is to stay in Ica: Hotel Las Dunas.
They organise trips from their hotel to the Nasca lines.
For buses Lima-Ica-Nasca: Cruz del Sur.
Climb Maria Reiche Observation Tower
If you are afraid of small planes, or loop the loops at heights then this is the only other way to see the Nazca lines. The Maria Reiche Tower is located on the way out of town approx 30km north of Nazca. The tower is named after a german researcher Dr Maria Reiche who believed the lines were an Astronomical Calendar indicating the direction of stars, planets, and solar solstices. For 5sols you can choose to go up the tower, where you will see 3 of the lines, including the tree. But to be honest, this can not compare to the view from a plane, so if you are set on seeing the lines then you are best off stomaching the plane experience and taking the climb up the tower after for a closer view.
- Arts and Culture
Flying over Nazca Lines
The only real way to actually really get to see the Nazca lines is to fly over them. A 75 minute experience in a small plane will take you up over each of the different designs which are etched into the earth below. The pilot will also perform a series of acrobatics both to get you the best view and for a bit of a thrill, so it is recommended not to take the trip on a full stomache. The amount of lines along the desert floor and the intricacy of the designs will amaze you. It is really incredible to imagine how they got there and continue to stay for our viewing pleasure. The flight costs US$50pp (plus an additional airport tax of 15sols).
- Arts and Culture
- Adventure Travel
The Nazca Lines are a series of lines and geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches more than 80 kilometers.
They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are many very straight lines and hundreds of stylized figures, like an owl, hummingbird, spider, monkey, fish, whale, llama and lizard.
The Nazca lines were made by merely kicking off the top layer of sand to reveal sand of a slightly different colour below. Yep, that's it! So, it is always possible to kick the sand back, thereby destroying the lines and figures!! The reason the lines remained for nearly 2000 years is because of the extremely dry, arid and windless nature of the region here. Also, future cultures probably were clueless to the existence of the lines.
Just look at the poor lizard, its body was unfortunately cut into 2 by the Pan-American Highway because at the time of building the highway, no one knew about the lines.
The Nazca lines can only be appreciated from the air. So, since the Nazca people could not have seen their work (always presumably they have no means of flight 2000 years ago), the purpose of building these lines and HOW they were built remain as unsolved mysteries even after decades of analysis.
To enjoy the Nazca Lines, you have to take a flight. This light aircraft turns and spins around to show you the lines and it is a seriously giddy ride. You take pictures through the glass window and I guarantee you will knock your head on the window constantly as the aircraft flips and dips.
Do not take any food before the flight. As long as you have 1 guy in the aircraft who vomits, then, everyone will follow suit and none of you will see anything at all, just the bottom of the paper bag with er... stuff.
Competition is very high. The tour companies come and find you, so just arrive in Nazca and you will be the most popular guy in town. I think most of the prices and services are the same.
CEMETERIO DE CHAUCHILLA
Besides the Nazca Desert Lines in Nazca, you may like to swing by the Cemeterio de Chauchilla. Grave-robbers had previously unearthed buried mummies and stolen all the good stuffs like jewellery and precious stones, etc.... The skulls, hair, teeth, thigh bones, etc... are all strewn all over the ground which you can spot easily.
In some of these graves, the authorities have simply dressed some skeletons and placed them there more for tidying up the place, then for authentic representation of the burial, i.e. these poses were not how the dead were buried in.
Note the hair of some of these skeletons. Long and plaited, you can definitely spot a Bob Marley.
You can easily combine a tour of the flight acros the Nazca Lines with a visit here.
Nasca Lines - Alien Handicraft or Human Boredom?
The Nasca lines are composed of cleared earth paths made in the shape of a monkey, spider, condor, man, and other figures on the flat, rocky plains of the desert near the southern cost of Peru. Some believe that the lines were created by aliens visiting the planet, but most historians agree that pre-Incan civilizations created the lines in the desert for reasons which have yet to be uncovered.
I opted to take the 6-hour long bus ride from Lima down the coast to visit the city of Nasca and took a 30-minute AeroCondor flight in a small Cessna to fly over the lines. If you can take a direct flight to Nasca from the Lima airport, it is recommended over the local bus service. The bus route was hot and slow, although it did provide an excellent window into the lives of the locals and provided views of the wide, cleared dirt expanses that comprised some of the figures along the sides of the highway.
The Nasca figures were fairly small from the windows of the Cessna, due to the high altitude at which the plane flew, and most of the shapes weren’t as clearly defined as most photos indicate. My seat behind the pilot on the left side of the plane wasn’t ideal as the pilot would bank the plane to the right when circling the figures, so I advise sitting on the right side of the plane if you plan to take photos.
Visit Chauchilla Cemetery
Approximately thirty minutes southeast of Nazca lies the Chauchilla Cemetery. Well worth visiting, the cemetery is a testament to the immense civilization that once thrived along the nearby riverbanks. Although most of the thousands of graves have been looted by grave robbers, leaving the skulls and skeletons (and broken pieces of pottery and bits of fabric) exposed to the elements, a few of the preserved graves have been protected and opened for easy viewing. Going with a local guide is highly recommended, but you don’t need a guide to be impressed by the sheer size of the cemetery, which shows how important the site was to the Nazca culture.
- Historical Travel