Ever since I saw a documentary on the mysterious lines that can be found around the town of Nazca I wanted to see them for myself. In fact they were one of the main reasons I had for wanting to visit Peru. They’re just such curious and unusual things…
Best seen from the air, in fact from the air is about the only way to see them properly. We arrived at the airport which I think deals exclusively in sightseeing flights and started negotiating prices which more or less turned out to be useless as the price is exactly for same from all companies. However not all companies had a plane with this crazy design. They should have made us pay extra for that! (Wait what is this? A warplane? Seems a bit out of place for such an innocuous trip)
All eight of us including the two pilots hopped into our fearsome tiger (?) shark (?) plane and we were soon in the air. Although I was happy to be up considering the wait we had to allow the fog to clear, this soon evaporated as I pretty much immediately felt sick. Perhaps chocolate cake for breakfast was not the best idea after all….
The landscape is as arid as can be. Although clearly there has been running water at some point or these patterns would have never been made. However that could literally have been thousands of years ago. Nowadays its pretty safe to say that the area gets virtually no rain
That’s a curious road with a very sharp, right-angled turn and wait is that a whale drawn in the desert? And is that whale wearing a small party hat? These are the Nazca Lines, well at least some of them
The desert is teeming with them. The crazy part is that they are around 2000 years old! Some even older than that
Some of them are enormous and the longest runs in a perfect straight line for tens of kilometres. There are many patterns in the desert but there is no mistaking these human-made lines for anything else
But what is their purpose? A landing strip for aliens? Why would aliens need a runway though? That is one of the wackier theories…
But how else to explain this clear depiction of an astronaut? While aliens are highly unlikely there is no definite theory for what or why the lines were made in the first place. Perhaps for the gods? Perhaps a giant art installation?
There are not just lines of course (the lines are absolutely everywhere) but there are more than 70 ‘geoglyphs’ depicting animals and plants. Here is the one of the more famous ones, the monkey
Lines spreading in every direction. I was feeling pretty sick at this point. So much banking, first on one side and then to the other so that each passenger could get a good look at the lines. I tried my very best to focus on the horizon
This gives an idea of the setting of the lines and the geoglyph of the spider (centre). There are some many lines sometimes it was difficult to spot patterns straight away
A close-up of the spider
For things so large and so enduring the construction is relatively simple: apparently it only involves clearing about 10 cm of the top surface of loose rocks to reveal the lighter coloured stones below. With no rain and no wind they have remained intact. There’s a parrot in this picture believe it or not. The largest pattern is 380 m in length
Mine and probably everyone else’s favourite; the Hummingbird. One of the clearest and most striking
The incredible and almost unbelievable thing is that these lines lay mostly undiscovered for centuries. It was only with the advent of flight and planes that we could truly understand their scope. In fact the legend is that they were only ‘discovered’ by pilots once commercial flights passed over in the 1930s. Of course while they can be observed from the ground you cannot fully appreciate them down there. Therefore perhaps it’s not too surprising that they built the Pan-American Highway straight through! Poor lizard got its tail entirely cut off!
Cue cheesy line…We too have made our lines, perhaps eons in the future archaeologists will wonder what our ‘modern’ civilisation used them for
Some of the final glyphs I didn’t photograph. By this point I was losing the battle in the fight against my nausea. Imagine trying to look through your camera viewfinder at full zoom when you’re banking incredibly steeply. It’s a pity but I knew if I tried looking in that viewfinder with a madly bouncing image one more time I was bound to be sick. In the end I threw up as we were landing, I thought I was going to make it but the pilot added in one last turn and that was it for me…. A bizarre, mysterious and incredible day, totally worth it all. (P.s. I was the only one to be sick…oh the shame!)
Next up: Deserts sandy and rocky