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Nasca Lines

The Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana are the most outstanding geoglyphs in the world due to their size, number, diversity and long period of development.

They are considered a magnificent artistic achievement of pre-Hispanic South America.

The lines are located in the arid coastal plain of Peru. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, llamas, and lizards. Their development spans 3 chronological phases between 500 BC and 500 AD. Many have been superimposed on older ones, with erasures and overwritings complicating their interpretation.

For the most part, the technique used to create the lines was the removal of the gravel from the figure, providing a solid figure that contrasts with its surroundings. The geoglyphs were supposedly used as pathways for ceremonial processions.

Map

Visit May 2011

This is one of the few truly unique sights in the world. And also a place I have dreamt of visiting since I was young. As it turned out, viewing the Nazca Lines is more of a total experience than just the visit of a sight. It’s the town of Nazca, quite touristy as it caters to the hundreds that pass by every day “just” to see the Lines. It’s the airport, where a dozen of companies offer nothing else than the same flight all day. It is the anticipation, waiting in the departure hall (Will my plane crash?, Will I be sick, Is it worth the hype?). It is the attitude of the large number of pilots walking around, even more showy and flirting than pilots in general.

In the end, I did enjoy my flight. I had booked it the night before via the hostel that I was staying after having arrived in Nasca by bus from Lima at 21.30. My flight was with Aeroparacas, but I don’t think it matters that much which company you choose. I was put into a plane with 3 Koreans, one of which got all white and sick early into the trip. There's one pilot that navigates the plane, and a co-pilot that yells the name of the geoglyph you can see on the ground outside of your window.

It takes one or two geoglyphs before it becomes easy to spot them and even have time left to try to take photos. They all pass pretty quick, I would have liked another round. I especially like the Whale and the Colibri.

Community Reviews


Frederik Dawson - July 2016

When I planned to visit Peru, Nazca Lines was one of the must go place I put on the list to do; however, after discovered that the best way to reach the town of Nazca is to take the night bus from Lima or Arequipa which I really hate, so I almost decided to skip this place. Fortunately, that I found out that it is possible to have a day trip to Nazca from Lima via Pisco, so after price negotiation, Nazca was back to my plan.

On Peruvian Mother Day morning, the driver had been waited for me at Lima Airport’s arrival lobby and immediately took me to Pisco by comfortable seacoast highway. With brief stop for toilet at the small town named Asia, it took 3 hours from Lima to Pisco. I arrived the empty Pisco Airport before noon. Then I directly went to small terminal for private airlines and discovered that there were about 20 Indian tourists waiting for the Nazca sky tour. It was an interesting experience to use small plane as all passengers had been asked to be weighted in order to calculate and seat everyone and balance the whole plane. My flight was about 10 persons including two pilots, I was lucky to sit at the end of the plane next to exit so I had a very large legroom in such small plane. The flight from Pisco to see Nazca lines took around 30 minutes, then captain started to fly lower and informed us to see the famous Nazca lines. The experience was very fun as the plane has to fly up and down in circles in order to let all passengers in different side of the plane to see the lines. Captain always started with “On the left/right! On the left/right! Look at the shadow of the plane...1...2...3…that’s the Monkey/Alien/etc.” I felt like I was on roller-coaster while sightseeing and no surprised! Two passengers had airsickness and vomited.

I have nothing to say about Nazca lines as they are the real wonder of ancient civilization, but I was a bit surprised to discover that they are actually quite hard to notice and see the lines even from not too high sky, so the theory of creating these lines for alien to see, for me is questionable. While Nazca lines are already a great sight, the experience from flying was even more fantastic, but again it was really depended on each person’s ability to handle small plane and spiral way of flying! But there is no alternative way to see the lines so bear it and have fun.


Joyce - July 2008

Still unknown why they are made, the Nasca lines form an interesting phenomenon. There are several agencies in town that will fly above the lines for an excellent view. Take some travel sickness medicine before you go because the plane will make lots of turns so everybody can see well...

From the air the figures look pretty small, but if you want to see how big they are you can go to the lookout tower on the highway just outside the town. From there you can see the "hands" and "tree" figures that are right next to the highway and from this close you can see how big the lines really are.


Solivagant - June 2005

No visit to Peru would be complete without over-flying the Nazca lines – I won’t describe the Lines or provide a photo of them as there is so much on the Web/in guide books about them. Instead those intending to take a flight might be interested in the attached photo from our visit as long ago as 1984.

On arrival at the town of Nazca you have a number of different flying companies to choose from. In theory prices are “fixed” but, depending on the season etc, it is quite possible to shop around on the evening before and get both a “reduced fare” and a reasonably firm flight departure time. We chose Aeroica. At the airport (a rather grand term for what was an airstrip then - it may be better now!) planes are doing continuous take off and landings for the 40 minute flights. The engine on our plane wouldn’t start with the turn of the propeller from the (ageing!) ground-staff so the pilot got out and did it himself. He was, however, unaware that the chocks had been removed and, with the engine successfully started, the plane started to trundle pilot-less down the runway full of passengers! Various bystanders hung onto the tail and tried to stop it but succeeded only in turning it so that it crashed into the “terminal building”! There were no injuries so this result was no doubt better than some possible alternative outcomes!

Now Aeroica still flies “the Lines”! Its Web site has rather pleasant Peruvian music and a nice map of the Lines together with a prebooking feature. Even this particular De Havilland Beaver plane must have been repaired as there is a “planespotter’s” site on the Web with a photo of it (same number!) dated 23 March 1986.

We did fly that morning – although my wife refused to go in a different plane from myself on the basis that it was better if both of us died together! Whether the “unsafe” practice adopted by the pilot (I wonder happened to him!) was typical of other safety concerns and whether all such issues have been fully rectified I know not.

But it is a GREAT trip – a lot of tight turns so, if you get airsick, you will on this flight! Arrange a (licensed!) taxi out to the airstrip and allow time to see the other sights on the way such as the Cemetery. I have some rather disturbing photos of desiccated bodies sitting in the rainless desert where tomb robbers had left them – hopefully the Peruvian authorities have got control over this now.


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Site Info

Full name: Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa

Site History

  • 2016 - Name change

    from 'Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana' to 'Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa'
  •  
  • 1994 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
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Locations

The site has 1 locations.

  • Nasca Lines

Connections

The site has 15 connections.

Geography

  • Antipodes points LINES AND GEOGLYPHS OF NASCA AND PAMPAS DE JUMANA=TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR S14 43 33 W75 08 55 = N14 23 18 E104 41 2
  • Pan-American Highway  Observation tower is along the highway

Human Activity

Individual People

  • Erich von Däniken 
  • Female Archaeologists  Maria Reiche (1903- 1998) "a German mathematician, archaeologist and technical translator who carried out research into the Nazca Lines in Peru, beginning in 1940, and had success in gaining recognition and preservation of the property." (Wiki)

Timeline

  • Built in the 2nd century BC The third phase, which represents the great majority of the geoglyphs, is the Nazca phase proper (200 BC-AD 500). (AB ev)

Trivia

  • Best seen from the sky 
  • Discovered from the Air "were first spotted when commercial aircraft started to fly over the region within the late 1920s. Some of the passengers reported seeing some sort of pictures on the desert surface below."
  • Fatal Accidents or 'disasters' Seven tourists died in a plane crash while viewing the Lines (feb 2010). Five tourists had suffered the same fate in april 2008.
  • Indiana Jones movie Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process

  • Name changes 2016 - from 'Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana' to 'Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa'