The Story of the famous Nazca lines in Peru
At 8 hours south of the Peruvian Capital Lima you will find the Nazca Lines. Mysterious landmarks that cover the surface close to the dessert city of Nazca. Lines that depict figures. One a cat, one a hummingbird, one a pair of hands and several hundreds more images. They cover an area of 500 km2! Most of them just simple lines, but some of them span up to almost 300 meters. No one can tell with 100% certainty why these lines were created.
Fact is that you can observe them from high above taking a flight over the Lines. Take a bus from Lima, Arequipa or Cusco to the town of Nazca. Here a plane will be awaiting you. You will fly over the lines in a Cessna (max 6 passengers) for 30-40 minutes. Now, this is not meant for people with weak stomachs. It is a small airplane and the flight will be bumpy. If you tend to be motion sick, beware of what you eat (for breakfast) before entering the plane. Also it will be good to bring motion sickness pills. Be careful when picking your flight. In Nazca there are a lot of vendors trying to sell flights for prices too good to be true. These cheap trips will take just as long as the more expensive flights, however, the difference is to be found in the quality of the planes and pilots – in other words, your own safety.
Scientists believe the lines date from 400 and 650 AD and are created by the Nazca Culture. By removing the reddish top layer, uncovering the white/gray ground beneath, the Nazca people were able to ‘draw’ the images. It is not hard to discover how the lines were created. The ‘why’ part is still shrouded in mystery though. Most researchers agree that it must have to do with religion. Others believe they were a part of rituals. The lines depicting animals for example could stand for fertility. And some lines seem to stand for the flow of water, possibly asking for rain.
The study of the Nazca Lines goes way back. In 1553 the mysterious findings were mentioned in a book by Pedro Cieza Leon, a Spanish conquistador in Peru. He took them for trail markers. For centuries the lines were more or less forgotten, until in 1927 a Peruvian archaeologist spotted them while hiking. Interest in the lines returned and in 1939 they were discussed at a conference in Lima.
One of the theories is that the lines are markers to indicate where the sun rose. Another hypothesis is that they were created for the gods of the Nazca people. So they could see the drawings in the sky. Astronomers believe the drawings are like reflections of the Milky Way. Copies of figures drawn in the sky. None of these theories are supported by convincing arguments.
Maria Reiche (1903-1998) was one of the first to conduct thorough research into the Nazca Lines. She started as an assistant of historian Paul Kosok, executing field research. Together they began to map and assess the lines for their relation to astronomical events. Reiche found 18 different kinds of animals and birds and used her background as a mathematician to discover that the figures have a highly sophisticated mathematical precision. She theorized that they were used as a sun calendar and observatory for astronomical cycles. Although her findings were received with mixed responses, her work did bring attention to the lines. From the profits she made from her book she campaigned for preservation of the Nazca desert. She spent a lot of money in an effort to lobby and educate officials and the public about the lines. After paying for private security, she convinced the government to restrict public access to the area. She sponsored construction of a tower near the highway so that visitors could have an overview of the lines to appreciate them without damaging them. The mystery of the Nazca Lines may never be resolved. Whatever the reason for their existence is, it is well worth visiting them.
After seeing the Nazca lines, many travelers go to the Chauchilla Cemetery, 30 kilometers from Nazca. Here you will find pre-hispanic mummified human remains and archeological artifacts. The cemetery has been plundered by grave robbers who left human bones and pottery scattered around the area. The site has been protected by law since 1997. Tourists pay around 8 US Dollars for a two-hour tour on the cemetery.
If you still have time left or, you aree on your way to Lima, you can visit the Ballestas Islands close to Pisco, a 4 hour busdrive away. The Islas Ballestas are known as the Peruvian Galapagos because of the abundant wildlife. Another nickname is ‘The poor man’s Galapagos’, because of the cheaper prices for trips to the island.
|Want to visit the Nazca lines with a discount?
Dos Manos Peru offers now a discounted trip to the Nazca lines. Bring your camera, light clothing, sunblock, water and snacks. If you want to have a look at the lines but do not want to fly, you could as well go to the Mirador Tower. Your view won’t be the same as flying but it does allow you to observe the lines from above. Chauchilla Cementry included. Contact Dos Manos Peru for the details of this trip.