A Beginner's Guide to the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are now an iconic part of Peru’s culture- even the official logo for Peru comes from these designs. Created sometime between 500 BC and 500 AD, these ancient geoglyphs of birds, monkeys, spiders and more can be found in the Nazca Desert in the south of Peru. Due to the dry, windless and stable desert climate, they have remained almost perfectly preserved since their creation, and are now further protected since becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Along with the many culturally-rich destinations in Peru, the Nazca Lines represent a remarkable part of Peru’s living history and should top every traveler’s bucket list. To help you better understand travel to the Nazca Lines, we’ve created this beginner’s guide from some of the frequently-asked questions we received to help you start your planning!
What exactly are the Nazca Lines?
Seen from above, they are very large-scale designs formed by shallow lines carved into the ground. The collection of designs includes hundreds of individual figures, such as monkeys, hummingbirds, fish, trees, lizards, sharks, and a candelabra. Some are simple lines or geometric shapes. The largest are over 200 meters (660 feet) across, and the plateau of collections spans over 80 km (50 miles).
How to get to Nazca (from Pariwana Hostel Lima)
1. Hire private transportation (you can ask at the hostel) from Pariwana Lima to Pisco (a 3.5-hour drive) or from Lima to Ica ( a 4-hour drive). In these cities, you can fly over the Nazca Lines. From Pisco, it costs about $184 and from Ica the cost is about $179 USD.
1. Take a higher-end bus, like Cruz del Sur or Oltursa (you can purchase tickets at Pariwana), from Lima to Nazca. Fly over the Nazca Lines in Nazca, and then either stay the night or return the same day (which makes for a very long day trip).
1. Take a local bus ( Soyuz, 35 soles) or Cial (around 50 soles) from Lima to Nazca. Take a flight over the lines, and then return to Lima or stay overnight in Nazca (or towns nearby)
What many people decide to do is make a multi-day trip to Nazca, stopping first at Paracas for a tour to the Ballestas Islands. Then they go that day to Huacachina to do the famous dune buggy and sandboarding tour, which explores the beautiful dunes of Huacachina. Then they stay the night over there (or in Paracas) and then the next day go to Nazca for the flight over the lines.
This is the most enjoyable option. The price for this depends on whether you want a private driver, expensive upscale hotels, etc., and can vary.
What is the best way to see the Nazca Lines?
For a long time it was a popular belief that the only possible way to observe the Nasca Lines was by flying over them. While this is still hands down the best way to fully appreciate them, many of them can also be seen from atop surrounding foothills, or from a locally-run lookout tower that was recently built. Even though the lines lay on the ground, UNESCO protections prevent visitors from walking up to them.
The best way to see the Nazca Lines is to take a plan tour which usually costs less than $150. Flying for 30 minutes, you will be able to see all of them clearly (and photograph them from the plane), while having a guide point out significant designs.
How much time do I need to visit the Nazca Lines?
One day is plenty sufficient to allot for the Nazca Lines. Oftentimes, visitors interpret this to mean there isn’t much to see, which is far from true. One of the reasons this destination is so popular is that there is a ton to see, but with the affordability and frequency of plane tours, you can see all of it in one efficient plane ride across the plateau rather than through days of land tours.
We recommend combining your trip to the Nazca Lines with visits to nearby Paracas National Reserve, the brandy country of Pisco, or a trip to the largest sand dune in the world at the desert oasis of Huacachina. You can stay in the city of Ica for the night, and very easily connect to any of these destinations.
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