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Peru Destinations

Nazca Lines

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Nazca LinesNazca Lines Information

For many years Nazca Lines have been a mystery, not even scientists or archaelogists can explain how these lines were formed. These old geoglyphs are located in the desert of Nazca. These are not ordinary lines, these lines were drawn or traced with perfection showing different designs inside the surface area. The size and complexity of these geoglyphs, suggest some kind of mysterious origin. These shapes can be geometrical or have a zoomorphic iconography. Their approximate size covers the area of 750 Km². These lines were traced only once. In 1994 UNESCO registered them as a World Heritage. These strange and amazing figures were discovered in 1927 near Nazca, one the driest regions of the world on the south plains of the region of Ica.

The extraordinary conservation of these lines is mainly due to two natural factors: The zone where they are located receives less than 1 liter/m2 of rain each year and the soil composition has high plaster content which is mixed with morning dew and rocks on the soil avoiding corrosion.

The lines you can see are the following:

  • Big bird: (305 m long and 54 width) making this the biggest of all.
  • Lizard: (188m) It is cut in half by the Panamericana Sur road. Its paws were cut during the construction of this road.
  • Pelican: (138m)
  • Monkey: (135m) it is peculiar because it has only 9 fingers on both hands.
  • Condor: (135m)
  • Hummingbird: The distance between its wings is of 66m
  • Hands: (5m) similar to the monkey you can find 9 fingers in both.
  • Flower: (76m)
  • Spider: (46m)
  • Human Figure: (40m) also known as the astronaut.
  • These shapes can be found among others.

What Makes the Nasca Lines One of Peru’s Most Enigmatic Enigmas?

As an aircraft soars above the arid expanse of southern Peru, the monotonous, pale terrain of rocks and sand undergoes a fascinating transformation. The unremarkable landscape, adorned in varying shades of tan and rust-red, gradually metamorphoses. Subtle white lines emerge, weaving intricate patterns across a desert where rainfall is a rarity, measuring less than an inch annually. The scenery unfolds as these lines coalesce to craft uncomplicated geometric motifs: trapezoids, straight lines, rectangles, triangles, and intricate swirls. Among them, certain swirls and zigzags take on recognizable forms: a hummingbird, a spider, a monkey.

What Are The Nazca Lines

These enigmatic engravings are none other than the world-renowned Nasca lines—a mystery that has captivated minds for more than eight decades. How were they crafted? What purpose did they serve? Could extraterrestrial forces have played a role?

Situated in the Peruvian region just a little over 200 miles to the southeast of Lima, near the contemporary town of Nasca, these enigmatic markings abound. In total, there are more than 800 straight lines, 300 geometric patterns, and 70 depictions of animals and plants, known as biomorphs. Some of the straight lines extend up to an astounding 30 miles in length, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1,200 feet (equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building).

The lines revealed

In 1926, Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe embarked on the first systematic study of the enigmatic lines. However, these enigmatic geoglyphs remained largely hidden from ground-level view, only gaining public attention after the advent of commercial aviation in the 1930s. It was during this time that American professor Paul Kosok made a significant breakthrough when, on June 22, 1941, just one day after the winter solstice, he found himself standing at the base of one of these intriguing lines. After a full day of meticulous examination, Kosok was captivated as he observed the sunset aligning perfectly with the mysterious line. This astonishing discovery led Kosok to dub the sprawling 310-square-mile expanse of high desert as “the world’s largest astronomical manuscript.”

Nazca Lines Tour

Following in Kosok’s footsteps, the German researcher Maria Reiche, known as the “Lady of the Lines,” dedicated four decades of her life to the meticulous study of these enigmatic geoglyphs. She ardently championed her theories regarding the astronomical and calendrical significance of the lines, earning recognition when she received a National Geographic grant in 1974 for her diligent work. Reiche was a tireless guardian of the site, living in a modest house near the desert to personally safeguard the lines from the potential damage caused by thoughtless visitors.

What do the lines represent?

The lines, often referred to as geoglyphs, are intricate ground drawings created by removing rocks and earth to form a “negative” image. Over time, the rocks covering the desert have undergone oxidation and weathering, resulting in a deep rust color. When the top 12-15 inches of rock are carefully removed, a light-colored, high-contrast sand is revealed. These remarkable designs have endured for 500 to 2000 years due to the region’s minimal rainfall, wind, and erosion.

How Old Are The Nazca Lines

Researchers attribute the creation of most lines to the Nasca people, who thrived from approximately A.D. 1 to 700.

In certain parts of the pampa, the landscape resembles a well-worn chalkboard, with lines overlapping one another and designs intersected by straight lines of both ancient and more recent origins.

You can see these lines from a gazer (mirador) or from the air, flying on a light plane. The latter is the best option to see the designs, such as the humming bird, the spider, and the monkey. Maria Reiche, a German researcher who spent all her life studying these figures, said that these lines, 15 to 20 cm deep, were an enormous astronomical calendar used to track down the different solar phases. She also said that the chalk from the desert plains is a magical and natural preserver of these images. it is absolutely very difficult to decipher the mystery but it is definitely impossible not to be enchanted by it.

Here in Nazca you can do a lot adventure tours and visit another touristic places like: Pyramids of Cahuachi, Antonini Museum, Chauchilla Cemetery and The Aqueducts of Cantalloc.

Location: 420 km. south of Lima.

Altitude: 550 MAMSL

The following tours include a visit to Nazca Lines:

Related Treks:

Inca Trail Hike
Lares Trek 4 Days
3 Day Machu Picchu Trek

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