Peru is a treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage sites. There’s Machu Picchu, of course, and the historic centers of Cusco, Lima, and Arequipa, among many others.
One UNESCO site I had always wanted to see in Peru is the Nazca lines (or Nasca lines)—those ancient geoglyphs (large artworks etched on the ground that are best viewed from above) whose purpose remains a mystery.
Located in the town of Nazca, five hours from Peru and 14 hours from Cusco, the lines are best appreciated from the air, although there are also a few that you can see from the watchtower.
I had initially planned on seeing the Nazca lines this year, when I planned to be back in Peru from February to May, but when Tinggly.com offered to let me experience it last November, I jumped at the chance. Tinggly offers an experience gift box, which currently offers three different collections and 350+ experiences in more than 100 countries. Flying over the Nazca lines is just one of the experiences they offer.
I reserved taking the experience of flying over the Nazca lines on my last few days in Peru. After spending two weeks in Cusco, I bought a bus ticket for Nasca online. I remember being worried; I was scheduled to arrive at 5am. At such an early hour, could I find Aero Paracas with whom I was supposed to fly?
I need not have worried. As part of the ticket booked, Tinggly arranged to have me picked up at the bus station and delivered to the airport. Finally, I can see the Nazca lines!
The small plane accommodated only five passengers. Each one, of course, had a window seat to better see the lines down below.
In all, our flight took only 30 minutes, and that included going by each line twice, so that all passengers could see it from their window. (Warning: the plane’s movement can make you queasy. None of us threw up but I’ve read of others who did! Be prepared.)
While there are hundreds of Nazca lines, ranging from people and animals to mere lines on the desert ground, the tour only covers 12 figures, which were done by the ancient Peruvians removing the reddish layer of pebbles and exposing the grayish or whitish ground underneath.
We flew over the Whale, the Trapezoids, Astronaut, Monkey, Dog, Hummingbird, Spider, Condor, Tree, Hands, Alcatraz, and Parrot. Some of the lines were pretty faint, while others were more distinctive, like the hummingbird below.
What were the Nazca lines for? Nobody knew. When it was first mentioned in La Chronica del Peru (The Chronicle of Peru), a 1553 book by Pedro Cieza de León, they were thought of as trail markers. It took hundreds of years before archaeologists finally considered it worth studying.
Theories with regards to its purpose and origin abound. Some researchers thought that the illustrations were forms of worship to the mountains and nature in general, while others theorized that they were created by aliens.
Others have also said that the Nazca lines were merely creative expressions of art, just the ancient Peruvians showing their artistic skills and talents. The fact that their canvas is the windless and dry plateau of Nazca, which preserved their artwork for centuries, is indeed fortuitous.
What makes the Nazca lines so fascinating? Aside from the fact that the illustrations are not only of animals found in the area, there are also others that are not endemic in the area, like an orca and some large birds. How did they learn of these animals? What message were they trying to deliver, and to whom? I doubt if we’ll ever know!
If you’re ever in Peru, do consider flying over the Nazca lines, and marvel at the art, history, and the beauty of nature molded by time and the elements.
Disclosure: While Tinggly sponsored my Nazca flight, all opinions are mine alone.