Aside from Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines were a primary reason I was so excited to visit Peru. These ancient lines crisscross the desert making geometric shapes, animals, and what look to be roads or airstrips. Their existence has been known since the early days of aviation in the area when people from planes reported seeing small airstrips in the desert as they flew over.
I originally thought the Nazca Lines were simply (really not so simple) shapes of animals but I learned that there are designs that extend for many kilometers across the desert. Many look like grids or even roads and I can only imagine the time that went into making them. The more amazing part of the story is that the lines are not discernible from the ground. You could walk right across them and not even know you passed anything but from an elevation an extensive system of grids, shapes, and animals becomes clear. The reason they were made is still a mystery as the invention of airplanes was thousands of years away, so who was it the people of Nazca intended to view their impressive work?
Two Options For Viewing the Nazca Lines
When I finally arrived in Nazca I was battling a bit of a stomach bug so I was having a bit of a debate on how I should see the Nazca Lines. There are two options. The first option is to pay about $85 to take a very small plane and fly over a large portion of the lines. The second option is only a cheap taxi drive away to a small elevated stand on the side of the highway where you can climb up to see two of the designs. My debate was the fact that every other traveler told me that the small plane would more than make your stomach flip and given that mine was already troubled I certainly had to think about it.
In the end I decided to risk it. I mean why would I let the risk of hurling stop me from experiencing something as great as the Nazca Lines to their fullest? So I made my way to the airport and climbed into a tiny 7 seater Cesna airplane with 5 other brave souls and 2 pilots for the trip.
Flying Over the Nazca Lines is Rough on the Stomach
In the end I didn’t end up getting sick though it was only seconds away a number of times during the flight. To make sure everyone on the flight sees all of the designs the pilot flys circles highly tilted to one side and then flips the plane around and does circles on the other side. It must be what it would be like to go through the spin cycle in a washing machine. If you go, I highly recommend taking some Dramamine beforehand so you can enjoy the ride a bit more.