Peru | Nazca Lines: One Small Plane Later…

The Nazca outing did not have the best start. We almost slept through our stop, and actually did end up being dropped off well outside Nazca, which is, by the way, in the absolute middle of nowhere. So, naturally, we walked to Nazca at the lovely hour of 4am. A series of disasters later, we figured out that it was impossible to find a flight over the Nazca Lines, given the recent grounding of several airlines after a multitude of frightening and fatal crashes. Thus, we decided to book a tour of the viewing tower and museum, though neither of these is as satisfying or effective, and were lucky enough to run into a tour coordinator who walked us to his office and let us store our bags. In a radical twist of fortune (we had spent the morning sitting desperately at the airport and whizzing around in taxis), the man found us exiting our breakfast locale and announced frantically that 3 seats had just opened up on one of the flights. We scrounged up our cash and were quickly ushered into an airport shuttle.

Next thing we knew, we were in a rickety old 6-seater next to a Siberian and jolly Japanese man, vigorously praying for our lives. It was really a tiny little thing, hardly appearing to have many functional features, but the pilots were comfortable enough. The copilot spent the entire 40 minutes pointing out which figures were underneath us. As the plane swirled around the various Nazca formations, we squinted and searched for the strange figures. Once you get used to spotting them out, the shapes are rather clear, though the weaving and turning of the plane is certainly hard on the stomach, even for the best passengers. The shapes are numerous, among them a whale, astronaut, monkey, condor, hummingbird, and spider. They are, in fact, one of the great South American mysteries, each of them having been made from a single, continuous line by the Nazca culture, somewhere between 400 and 650 AD. They are shallow designs made by uncovering the white earth beneath the brush and hard stones of the plateau, preserved only due to the isolation and dry climate of their surroundings. Most guess that there is some religious significance to the lines, but whether they were used for rituals, irrigation, or agricultural/astronomical calendars is unknown.

After winding our way over the figures, the pilot managed a hard landing on the pebbly runway. Thankful to have landed safely, we stumbled out of the airport and made our way back to the coordinator’s office, then almost immediately boarded an Arequipa-bound bus among other tourists. Though the lines are a pretty neat sight, I would be hesitant in recommending that anyone stay in Nazca longer than necessary. It’s a run-down, dilapidated little place with little to offer in terms of aesthetic value or entertainment. Mostly, it’s just hot and unpleasant. Perhaps a little planning here would go a long way.

One Response to “Peru | Nazca Lines: One Small Plane Later…”
  1. Romas says:

    Urte, you are wild and crazy! Love you!

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