Found in the heart of the Ica coastal desert of southern Peru, the Nazca lines are a collection of enormous geoglyphs. They comprise of a number of shallow incisions or depressions made into the desert floor. Most of the carvings were constructed more than 2000 years ago by the Nazca culture, which is believed to have been influenced and inspired by the earlier works of the Paracas culture. Many scholars have found it relatively easy to determine how they were construction. However, its use remains shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless, people still continue to theorize, mainly settling on either religious beliefs or astronomical reasons. In 1994 it was officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since 2022, the total number of geoglyphs discovered amounted to 358. There designs are mostly zoomorphic and the other shapes include flowers and trees. The Nasca lines are located between the towns of Nasca and Palpa. Today the Nazca Lines have become a hugely popular tourist attraction and a must see for all passing through. Most tours start from Lima and include the desert oasis of Huacachina, the Ballestas Island in Paracas and the Bodegas in Ica.
History of the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines’ first published discovery was by Pedro Cieza de León in 1553. With the rise of aviation came increased reports of the strange carvings in the desert from the Peruvian military and civilian pilots flying over the area.
With the increase in sightings came interest from explorers. In 1927, the Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejía Xesspe stumbled across the Nazca Lines on foot. This inspired him to spend years studying the lines and eventually report on his findings at a 1939 conference in Lima.
Paul Kosok, an American historian, was the first foreign scholar to study the geoglyphs. He was investigating the theory that the strange carvings were used as irrigation pipes by the Nazcas. Having taken to the skies, he noticed that some of the lines actually resembled a bird. This discovery led to extensive research into why the ancient Nazca people had gone to such lengths to create these fascinating carvings. More scholars joined the search, which led to the rise of several theories about how the Nasza lines came to be and what they were used for.
Nazca Lines Theories
A popular theory relates to celestial bodies and where they rise on significant dates. Many believe that the Nazca Lines point to where these constellations will rise on important days to the Nazca people. This theory is also supported by the unusually elongated skulls that were found here.
Prof. Kosak investigated the theory that the mysterious carvings may have been used as irrigation systems to boost agricultural output in the middle of the vast desert. Some archaeologists have also theorized that the carvings may have been a way of worshiping the gods in return for water from the mountains.
Some theories are definitely more obscure than others and there is no definite answer as to the origins of the Nazca Lines. However, if you consider how advanced this civilization was for its time, it´s not difficult to fathomed that this civilization were more than capable of drawing their own lines for whatever reason. The Nazca and Paracas civilization are responsible for developing a very sophisticated water irrigation system, building pyramids and designing the most intricate and colorful pottery of the time.
How to Get There
Nazca is located in the Ica desert, about a 6 or 7 hour drive from the capital and a short 3 hour drive form Huacachina. Unfortunately there are no trains or planes to Nazca, meaning the only way to reach the fascinating geoglyphs is by road.
You can join a tour from Lima or Huacachina to the desert town.
Where to Stay
As Nazca is a major stop for tourists in Peru, there are many accommodation options available in town. You can choose anything from economical hostels to luxury hotels and everything in between.
How to See the Nazca Lines
The most popular way of observing the Nazca Lines is, without a doubt, from the air. As the tour has grown in popularity with tourists, flight services have become readily available. Meaning anyone can see the wonderful geoglyphs from the skies, in all their glory! Flights last for 30 minutes, and are usually informative. They have bilingual guides so you can make the most of your Nazca Lines experience. Tour operators tend to run several morning and afternoon services with varying plane sizes. You and your whole group can enjoy the wonderful carvings together from the sky!
If flying isn’t quite your thing or you’re sticking to a tight budget, don’t worry! You can actually check out the Nazca Lines from an observation tower. Its a lot cheaper and the price always includes the transportation. The view isn’t quite as spectacular as it is from a plane, but it’s definitely a fantastic experience if you can’t get a flight.
For tours and flights over the Nazca Lines, check out the following link. Sam Corporations.
We have many tour package to Machu Picchu, see more information here!
Found in the heart of the Ica coastal desert of southern Peru, the Nazca lines are a collection of enormous geoglyphs. They comprise of a number of shallow incisions or depressions made into the desert floor. Most of the carvings were constructed mor...