Perhaps you’ve heard of the Nazca lines? It’s one of the world’s remaining mysteries. The lines consist of 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 spectacular animal and plant drawings. The area containing the lines is over 500 square kilometers, that’s right, a huge area. The scale of the drawings is such that you cannot visualize the drawings unless you are airborne. For example, there is a 180 meter long lizard and a condor with a 130 meter wingspan.
(In the above photo, you can see the hummingbird drawing, 93 meters/204 feet long. It’s in the middle of the photo with the beak pointing to the left.)
It is believed that these drawings were created during a period of hundreds of years between 400 BC and 700 AD. But those who have studied the lines are not certain exactly who created them, how they created them with such precision or for what purpose they were created. The most common explanation is that the ancient Nazca civilization created the drawings as some form of offering to the Gods, most likely seeking more rainfall.
(In this one you can see the drawing they call Hands just to the right of center and the Tree on the left side with the roots pointing down and the limbs extending up and to the right. In the upper center is the Mirador (lookout) tower that sits along the highway leading to Nazca.)
The best way to see the lines is by means of an over flight. This, of course, is a major tourist activity here in Nazca. We signed up for a flight to occur early in the day. Most of the planes are configured for 4 passengers plus the 2 pilots. Every plane has two pilots for safety. We were on a plane with 6 passengers. The flight lasts about 30 minutes and they give you the opportunity to view 13 or 14 of the drawings. For each drawing they make a pass with a dip to the right and to the left so that the passengers on both sides are able to get a good view. All of the pictures that we have here are pictures that Valerie took herself through the window of the airplane. It’s quite a spectacular sight.
(This is from the main plaza in Nazca. In the background you can see Cerro Blanco towering above the surrounding hills.)
Another interesting sight around Nazca is Cerro Blanco, the tallest sand dune in the world. The summit tops out at 2,078 meters above sea level, but more importantly, from the base to the top is 1,176 meters, about 3,880 feet of sand dune. Our guide book says that it takes about 3 hours to climb it but we’re not able to confirm that. We learned from our sand boarding experience that it is exhausting to climb in the sand.
From Nazca, we will take an overnight bus trip across the Andes to Cusco, the capital of the Inca civilization.