After a quick stay in Ica we headed southeast to Nazca to see UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Nazca Lines. Once again, the landscape was very desolate. It amazes me how after visiting more than 100 countries, everywhere is different and yet similar. The drive to Nazca reminded me of driving through Eygpt, an entire continent away.
After just over two hours we arrived in Nazca and were picked up by our hotel owner. After dropping off our bags in the room, we were taken directly to the Nazca airport.
For a whopping $90USD per person, we opted for an aerial view of the Nazca Lines. After paying the 25 soles airport tax and getting a quick rundown from the pilot, we buckled ourselves into a tiny, four-seater plane and took off.
In just 30 minutes we were able to see all of the famous figures that are posted all over Peru; the hummingbird, monkey waving to outer space, spider, monkey, whale etc. Flying over the Nazca Desert it’s easy to believe that there are hundreds of these geoglyphs ranging in size and shape. It was a clear day but still they were not so prominent or as big as I had expected. The largest figures are up to 200m (660ft) across, and yet still they didn’t live up to my fantasy. In this case, the photos posted all around Peru were much clearer and nicer than seeing them in real life.
The entire Nazca desert floor is covered in a wide variety of shapes, lines, animals and plants. Many are hard to distinguish and the whole Nazca Line phenomenon is a mystery of how and why they were created.
Ironically the best part was the airplane ride. I felt like I wasn’t in an airplane but a little hovercraft which somehow felt safe despite the huge G forces, constantly shaking and blaring hum of the engine. The intense G-forces caused by sharp turns are what cause a lot of people to get sick during this short flight. I’m actually really glad it was such a small plane because it made at much more personal. It sure felt like we were really on an Indiana Jones adventure.
The extensive flat land around was a slight comfort if the engine died and we needed to make a crash landing. Yes, there goes my endless worst-case-scenerio worries again. I had to let out a few excited screams when the pilot would tip to such an intense angle to view the lines. It was so mind boggling that I could be in a plane at such a slant, that my excitement overpowered the fear. We were practically sideways in the air!
The pilot really impressed me with his flying precision. He informed us before taking off that he would place the geoglyphs just under the tip of the wing. Because the lines are quite faint and the entire landscape is so barren and brown, the geogplyphs can get slightly lost unless you know what you’re looking for.
Once again Peru impressed me with its ability to be touristic without feeling it. Even at Machu Picchu, I never felt it was over crowded by tours or tourists. While viewing the Nazca lines we were the only airplane out there, making it still feel very personal.
Although the appearance was not as impressive as I expected, I don’t want you to think I underestimate the history and importance of the Nazca Lines. I am absolutely WOWED by them and the mysterious 2,000+ year old history behind them. There is no doubt that they are an incredible signature of the past and what mankind is capable of. It just reminds me how little we know about the world we live in and that I want to discover as much of it as I can.
Although I still enjoyed it and am glad I did it, if you’re humming and hawing about this stop, I would not recommend it. If you’ve budgeted for it, go for it. If it’s out of your budget don’t stress too much. In my opinion, there are far better and cheaper things to do in Peru.
Sometimes the hype around a site can lead to unrealistic expectations, for me this was one of them. All I can say is, thank gosh Machu Picchu was even more fabulous than I could’ve imagined!
Of course I couldn’t leave my book at home. “Backpacks and Bra Straps” was with me the entire time. Don’t forget to get your copy on Amazon!
- I would say don’t pay more than $100 to see the lines. There are dozens of tour operators in Nazca, I mean, the town is basically only there because of the tourism that the lines bring. Don’t worry about booking a day before or even the day of. We were there in Peru’s high season and had zero problem booking a day in advance and the price included getting picked up and dropped off at our hotel.
- I’ve read a few forums where people say they paid over $300 to do the Nazca Lines as a day tour that included lunch. I’m sorry but I can’t see how it could ever be worth that. I mean, your lunch would have to cost more than $200 to be worth its value and who wants to spend that much on a meal? Unless you’re getting a private jet and served lunch on it…. please don’t pay that much.
- If you cannot afford this activity, don’t beat yourself up about it, it was definitely not my favourite or most memorable experience. If I can give any advice on this, please don’t starve yourself to save the money or sleep on the street for three days (one of the travellers we met was doing exactly that!) to be able to afford it.
- This tip is from Kees: Don’t take pictures or videos while in the plane. It makes you feel sick.
- Apparently a lot of people get sick in the tiny plane. There are barf bags available in front of every seat. Don’t eat too much or too little before this flight. I took a Gravol and had no problem.
- The plane is very small, just four passengers so it gets cramped, and hot.
- You can get a STAMP in your passport for the Nazca Flight, don’t forget to ask for it.
Categories: Savannah Grace