Posted by: robinson2000 | March 1, 2011

Tracing the Nazca Lines

25th-28th February – Following a quick whirl wind tour of Lima, we bid farewell to the sprawling metropolis and headed South on the Pan-American Highway along the barren coastal desert to the town of Nazca.

After a chaotic time at the bus terminal, we boarded a luxurious double-decker bus that we paid top dollar for and began the 8 hour journey through the beautiful desert with the Pacific Ocean on our right and the Andes Mountain range on our left. We arrived tired, stiff and with grumbling stomachs around 9.30 at night and decided to walk the 300 metres to a hostel we had picked out from our guidebook. The map directed us away from the brightly lit main high street and up a dark road leading to a T-junction which we turned right on to where our hostel supposedly was. Unfortunately the tarmac on the road had been completely dug up, the street lamps were off and there were some undesirable characters loitering about. The street would make a great film set for a war film, or a run down ghetto scene from The Wire. Stupidly we plodded on a few metres ahead of Spicer and unsurprisingly found our hostel boarded up. At the same moment a pimped up car rolled by, complete with heavy base and huge spoiler, and stopped next to Spicer. Fearing the worst we walked back towards the car but was relieved to find a bubbly Peruvian girl driving, who told us the hostel had been closed sometime due to road works and offered to take us across town to another hotel. Eventually we found a room and headed to the nearest restaurant to gorge on steaks and chips.

In the morning Nazca seemed a much nicer place. Our Hotel over looked the Plaza de Armas which featured a water fountain in the centre with hedge designs of some of the mysterious geometrical figures that scatter the landscape around Nazca. The famous figures are known worldwide as the Nazca Lines and include large numbers of lines, geometrical shapes, andesigns such as a spider, a monkey and birds. The lines, best seen from the air, cover a vast area with some of the animals being over a 100 metres long.

The sun was blazing by the time we left our hotel room so we headed to a museum that housed discoveries from the pre-Inca city Cahuachi which the Nazca people inhabited. The museum was expensive and actually quite boring so we made a quick exit and headed to the Maria Reiche Planetarium at the other end of town. The planetarium was built in honour of Maria Reiche who spent 40 years studying the Nazca Lines until she died in 1998, aged 95. The tour began with a slide show projected onto the domed ceiling of the planetarium which demonstrated some of Maria Reiche´s theories. It kept me entertained and interested for the duration of the show but the theories made some very loose links between the designs and astronomy. One claimed that the amazing spider design was linked to a cluster of 4 stars arranged in a rectangle. Another plausible theory was that the lines pointed to water sources in the mountains. At the end of the tour we were shown Maria Reiche´s bedroom (again quite boring) and then allowed to look at a couple of stars through a telescope. Not the most enthralling of days but we had the Nazca Lines to look forward to the next day.

We rose bright and early the following day in order to get to the airport by 8am and grab a flight into the desert. We arrived to find only 2 airline companies running flights and both charging a whopping $100 for the 30 minute flight. Expecting a $50-$80 flight, we didn´t have the cash to fly that day so we headed back to Nazca and spent the day sunning ourselves around a swimming pool. Apparently due to fuel shortages the price of a flight has increased dramatically. One company, that has since closed down, were so short of fuel that they only took enough to take the plane part of the way and thought they could glide back to the airport on return. Unfortunately this brilliant idea was flawed and the plane crash landed somewhere in the desert killing all on board.

We headed back to the airport early the following day with high hopes of flying over the Nazca Lines. We paid the extortionate $100 for a flight but before we were able to fly, myself and Spicer had cleverly forgotten our passports which meant a quick taxi ride back to the hotel. Finally after much waiting and faffing about, including a weigh in, (if you were over the limit they charged you double) we were able to board the small 5 seater plane waiting on the tarmac with 2 pilots in the cockpit who were cracking jokes the whole journey. The take off was pretty smooth but as soon as we were away from the airport the turbulence started to kick in. As we flew over the first design, a whale, the pilot tipped the wings to give us a better view also causing the plane to spiral down in a stomach jolting manoeuver. After a few minutes of this I was feeling horrendous and we still had about 10 designs to see. Sweat started beading from my forehead and I had to take deep breaths to ward off the sickness in my stomach. After 30 minutes of this expensive form of torture we finally headed back to base to everyone’s relief. From what Spicer said the lines were pretty amazing but I was concentrating too hard on remaining conscious to enjoy them unfortunately.

Once we returned to the hotel we hastily checked out, bought an expensive bus ticket to Cusco for that evening, and relaxed by the pool practising back flips for the rest of the day. We boarded the bus at 8pm that evening and didn´t arrive in Cusco till 3pm the following afternoon (a bum numbing 19 hours!). We should have arrived much earlier but we broke down for about 6 hours in the dead of night. Cusco seems a nice place but much sleep and food are needed before I can enjoy it.

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  1. […] the amount of lines and there was very little substantiating evidence for these assertions. Still, Ben convinced the chap to whip out his telescope to peer at a slightly magnified version of the […]

  2. Sorry that you didn’t get to enjoy the Nazca Lines. $100 seems to be a bit much for a high altitude theme park ride!!! Hope the Inca Trail experience is more rewarding.

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