Peru is famous for a lot of things, but there is one in particular that is known world-wide: The Nazca Lines. Located in the south-west of Peru, only a few hours from Lima, the famous lines can be best spotted from high up in the air. There are several theories around the purpose of the Nazca Lines, not one proven to this day. But what are the Nazca Lines?
The Nazca Lines are known as geoglyphs: They were formed by removing the first layers of oxidized rocks until light-colored sand is exposed. The lines are located in the Pampa Colorada (meaning “Colored Plain” or “Red Plain”) in an extremely dry desert north-west of the small city Nazca. The oxidized rocks get a dark, reddish / rust color. Among the lines are simple geometric designs such as trapezoids, rectangles, straight lines, triangles and swirls, but also flower and animal shapes. The most famous ones are the hummingbird, monkey, lizard, spider, condor and even a human figure sometimes known as “the Astronaut”. All of them can be seen best by plane on your Peru vacation.
The majority of the lines date supposedly from 200 B. C. to 500 A. D., when Nazca people lived in that region. In 1926/27, the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe was the first one to systematically study and report the Nazca Lines. In the 1930s, with increasing air traffic and more planes soaring in the air, the lines could be seen better and became more popular. Following Xesspe, the American historian Paul Kosok studied the lines from an airplane and named them “the largest astronomy book in the world”, as he saw a connection between the lines and astronomy. Probably the most famous person who dedicated more than 40 years to study the Nazca Lines was Maria Reiche, there is even a Reiche museum in the town of Nazca.
Now, what are the Nazca Lines exactly? There are several assumptions with none to be confirmed until this day, here a few of them:
- In the 1960s the radical theory of the lines being related to aliens and ancient astronauts was popular.
- Paul Kosok and Maria Reiche thought of an archeo-astronomical connection, with Reiche’s theory of it being a huge astronomical calendar and some of the animal sketches being modelled after the grouping of stars in the sky.
- The lines could have served as some sort of rituals performed to obtain water and fertility of crops, as the region is extremely dry and receives only a minimum of water per year.
Nazca as a destination
If you are planning a journey through this amazing country and are still not sure about which are the best Peru destinations to visit, what about the Peru Ballestas Islands and the Nazca Lines? Only a few-hour bus ride from Lima lies Paracas on the coast. There you will have the opportunity to visit the Paracas National Park. The about 335,00 hectares big area is a treasure in native flora and fauna as well as beautiful beaches with geological formations. On the same day, you can visit the Ballestas Islands. The Islands inhabit various bird species as well as Humboldt penguins, the South American fur seal, sea lions and many more that you can observe during an around two-and-a-half-hour boat ride among many more. Make sure to not forget your camera and take pictures of the sea lions chilling on the coast! Around 4 hours from Paracas lies Nazca that you can reach easily by bus that you can organize on your own or book a tour through a travel agency.
There are several things to do in Nazca. Apart from taking a flight or climbing up a viewing platform to find out what are the Nazca Lines you can see some mummies at the Chauchilla Cemetery, a Nazca burial ground where mummified corpses were laid to rest until the ninth century. Next, the Cahuachi pyramids are little-known ruins protruding in the desert, with around 40 of them still buried under the sand. If you are interested in visiting some museums, do not miss out on the Museo Antonini and Casa-Museo Maria Reiche to learn more about the region’s history. Get to know more about the pre-Incan history and admire some of the findings archaeologists have made. The Casa-Museo Maria Reiche shows you the work of the German mathematician Maria Reiche, who studied the Nazca lines intensively. You will find measuring tapes, blueprints as well as a sacrificial mummy in a glass cabinet along with other skulls that she has found. If you are looking for just strolling through the city, there is a market on Sundays where you can buy plenty of different food, clothes, DVDs, sunglasses and more. An interesting experience to get to know the local life.
Peru has many wonders waiting for you to be discovered. Here in Cusco Peru Travel, our speciality is to make your trip an outstanding experience, fill-in this form and let your tailor-made luxury Peru vacation begin.