The Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 37 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). They were created during the Nazca_culture in the area, between 200 BC and 600 AD.
The Lines were first spotted when commercial airlines began flying across the Peruvian desert in the 1920s. Passengers reported seeing ‘primitive landing strips’ on the ground below. The Lines were made by removing the iron-oxide coated pebbles which cover the surface of the desert. When the gravel is removed, they contrast with the light color underneath. In this way the lines were drawn as furrows of a lighter color. Off the Pampa, south of the Nasca Lines, archaeologists have now uncovered the lost city of the line-builders, Cahuachi. It was built nearly 2,000 years ago and mysteriously abandoned 500 years later.
Toribio Mejia Xespe, a Peruvian doctor and anthropologist was the first scientist, in 1927, to show interest in what he called “great Incan ceremonial artifacts”.
Swiss writer Erich von Däniken suggested in his 1968 book, “Chariots of the Gods”, that the lines were built by ancient astronauts as a landing field. But the soft clay soil and layer of brown and black rocks in the Nazca desert would seem an unsuitable site for a landing strip. Joe Nickell has reproduced one of the figures using technology available to the Nazca Indians of the time, and without aerial supervision.
Residents of the local villages say the ancient Indians conducted rituals on these giant drawings to thank the gods, and to ensure that water would continue to flow from the Andes
How to go
There are frequent colectivos (small buses) to and from Ica. They leave when full, it takes 2-3 hr and cost 12 soles.
There are several direct overnight buses from Cuzco (14 hours) and Arequipa (9 hr). Delays can occur in the wet season. Prices vary between 60 and 170 soles.
Another option to go from Cusco, Lima, Paracas, Ica or Huacachina is to take one of the Peru Hop buses. This new service has brand new cama buses and allows you to hop on or hop off at any of these places. Peru Hop includes hotel/hostel pick-ups and drop-offs and also includes a short stop at the Nazca lines viewing tower free of charge.
There are also buses to Lima (Cruz del Sur and Oltursa buses go via Ica and Paracas) throughout the day and overnight, the journey takes about 6-8 hr.
Nazca is a small city that does not have a proper bus station. Most of the bus companies are situated on the northwest part of the city.
If you’re traveling in a small group (2-4 people), it’s fairly easy to arrange a one day all-inclusive side trip to Nazca from Lima with private transportation. One-day trips are generally paired with a stop in the Ballestas and include the airplane ride to see the lines. A private trip isn’t particularly cheap (running around 900 soles per person), but can be worth it if you really want to see the lines and don’t have a lot of time in Peru. One-day trips from Lima leave early (around 4:00 AM) and return late (around 10:00 PM).
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