Positioned in a small coastal valley, the colonial town of Nazca is famous for the strange lines and geometrical figures etched into the desert floor. At up to 200m in length with no two image the same, these etchings, spread over 500 square kilometres of the Nazca plain, are one of the great mysterious of South America. The motifs of a spider monkey and hummingbird, to name but a few, are completed in one continuous line and best observed from above. Flying over them is definitely the most spectacular way to do it though a viewing tower enables those on a budget to get a bird’s eye view of the mysterious drawings. No one really knows what these lines mean though the most popular theory speculates that they were an astronomical calendar used to plan harvests around seasonal changes.Read More
Most visitors to the lines base themselves in Nazca and explore the handful of attractions in town. The fascinating Museo Antonini covers the evolution of Nazca culture (influential between 500 and 800 AD) and comprises the Bisambra aqueduct, one of the many subterranean Inca aqueducts that keep the Nazca valley green and fertile. South of the River Tierras Blancas that runs through Nazca, is a gold processing operation where you can watch how gold dust is extracted from ground rocks. It’s fascinating to watch, especially as the mines are practically in someone’s back garden.
Further southeast of Nazca, the Chauchilla Cemetery makes a rewarding day trip with thousands of graves scattered about the desert landscape. Opened by grave robbers, these dusty tombs reveal mummified skeletons with skin and hair largely intact, as well as pieces of fabric and fragments of pottery.