Peru - Nazca

Centuries ago, 50 square kms of desert floor were covered by vast drawings, figures of mammals, insects and deities, just two hours from Ica.

The Nazca Lines, discovered in 1927, are the most extraordinary legacy left by a culture that flourished in 300 BC. These lines are a series of complex designs up to 300 meters (984 feet) long which can only be seen in their true dimension at an altitude of at least 1500 feet. The Nazca culture is believed to be incapable of manned flight. Still the question remains as to how they crafted the drawings, what technology they used, and what purpose the lines served.

Theories abound regarding these mysterious etchings, ranging from landing strips for aliens to a giant seismograph. The most probable theory is that of MarĂ­a Reiche, a German researcher who dedicated her life to studying the lines. Ms Reiche believed that the lines were part of a vast astronomic calendar whose figures marked different solar phases. Ms Reiche. affectionately nicknamed the Angel of the Plains by the local inhabitants. was the first to discover the ancient technique of digging into the tough and dry desert floor and covering the track with stones brought from distant sites. The component of natural plaster existing in the area helped to preserve the drawings for thousands of years. The hummingbird, the spider. the condor and the monkey, are among the more than 30 figures etched into the plain.

The Nazca Plains (four areas in total: Palpa, Ingenio, Nazca and Socos) lie in the department of Ica, some 460 km (285 miles) south of Lima. The lines that decorate the desert floor like an embroidery of the gods have been declared a Mankind Heritage Site by UNESCO and the ancient mystery of the figures still waits to be unraveled.





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