The beautiful and mysterious Nazca Lines
Along the same highway that brings you from Lima to Cusco lays a high plateau that dazzles the imagination. Backpackers traveling through will probably make their way to the far end of the plateau, where the small city of Nazca is located. The city itself has plenty of hostels and hotels, but there are also a number of camping options if you have the appropriate gear.
From the main square, head toward the northeastern corner, straight down that road until you reach a dry river bed. There, you can camp. Just remember that there’s always safety in numbers.
Why are you in Nazca in the first place? Well, you’re probably here to see the Nazca lines. In the high plateau, called the Pampas de Jumana, stretching 80 kilometers north all the way to the city of Palpa, you’ll find a seemingly empty space that is furiously protected. Over the empty vastness are hundreds of lines and drawings that can only be appreciated from the air.
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Actually, you can opt to return to the plateau and climb up the surrounding hills to get a view of some of the lines. The visible lines stretch into the horizon and you might wonder how they got them so straight. Or, you can pay 2 sols to climb the mirador in order to see two smaller designs.
However, the most popular way to see the line is by plane. The small airport in Nazca offers $20 tours over the lines. It is from the air that you really get an idea of the breadth of the project, which is said to have been completed by the Nazca people between 400 and 650 AD.
From the plane, you’ll get to see how big the pictures actually are. The simple lines themselves are the longest, and can be seen from space satellites! You’ll see those lines along with drawings of hummingbirds, sharks, llamas, lizards, spiders, monkeys and fish. The dry and windless climate has preserved the lines well enough, although the pampas is still rigorously protected.
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The lines were made by moving the red rock of the land to reveal the light-colored ground beneath. This aerial adventure will surely test your imagination, but will give you lasting memories, and lasting photos!