About Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of large shapes embedded in the earth known as “geoglyphs” in Peru’s Nazca Desert.
History of the Nazca Lines
Spread over 450 square kilometres of the Pampa Colorada region in between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, the origin of the Nazca Lines is a subject of much debate, but they are believed to have been created by the Nazca Civilisation between 500 BC and 500 AD.
Exactly why the lines were created is another topic of discussion. Some have theorized that they were some sort of astrological calendar used for agricultural reasons, whilst others view it as some kind of water cult – life in the desert relied heavily on water to sustain populations. A variety of other suggestions have been hinted at over the years, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the simple answer is that we just don’t know what they were created for.
Amongst the enigmatic shapes is a monkey, two human beings one of which is known as the “astronaut”, a hummingbird, a spider and a tree. There are over 300 geolyphs (geometric figures) and 70 biomorphs (animal/plant drawings), as well as many more straight lines.
The shapes were created by moving darker stones to reveal lighter soil underneath: the lines would only really have been visible from above, which had led some to hypothesise that the Nazca could see the lines from above.
Nazca Lines today
The lines are in the middle of the desert: most people who really want to see them book a flight to see them from above to appreciate their true extent. If you don’t fancy a flight or are on a budget, head towards the nearby Pan American Highway observation tower, which gives you a decent view of three of the images.
Flights over the lines rely heavily on good weather conditions. Some flight operators are of questionable safety, and crashes are not unheard of, so be sure to book with a reputable operator.
Getting to the Nazca Lines
The lines are about 6km north west of the town of Nazca, on the Pan American Highway. You can normally find a bus or a combi rom Nazca to get you here. Flights depart from Nazca or Ica, which is 115km north.
From the heights of Machu Picchu to the immense reaches of the Nazca Lines and more, here is our ultimate guide to the top Peruvian cultural locations, landmarks and monuments.