Monday, January 29, 2007

The Nazca Lines and Back to Lima in One Day

Good day again to you all and a very happy and belated new year! I wish you all the very best for the year and hope that you all manage to get out and travel to some extraordinary places in 2007. It has been sometime since my last post – and this is mostly due to the fact that we’ve been busy working on the new class adventure travel website – It is also partly due to the fact that my family and I have spent a lot of time traveling around Latin America looking out for new tours, destinations, and new offices for CAT – in such places as Chile and Costa Rica. My first entry for the year however concerns itself with the Nazca Lines and how getting there, seeing the awesome sight of the lines, and getting back to Lima can now be done in one day.

Approximately 2000 years ago the Nazca Culture – for one reason or another (the theories are endless) – decided it would be in their best interest to carve giant geometric designs, patterns, and stylized animal figures into the surface of a rather flat, inhospitable, and barren plain. Whether in fact the Nazca people created the lines to appease the gods, or whether they made them simply in order to confuse us is largely immaterial, especially as the reasons behind their creation have been debated for so long that any hope of finding a concrete explanation for their existence seems to have disappeared. What hasn’t disappeared however, are the lines – and after 2000 years they are as resplendent, mind boggling, and impressive as ever.

The town of Nazca lies about 450 kilometers south of Lima and the amazing geoglyphs, located on the plateau outside of town never fail to dazzle me. What does annoy me is that if you’re on a limited time frame it’s a difficult site to see. Traditionally one has always had to take a bus from Lima to Nazca which takes roughly seven hours. It actually took me nine hours to get there by bus a couple of years ago. What this means is that unless you really want to spend some time exploring the region –you’re looking at a two day trip at the very least. If the bus is fast you can get there and back in 14 hours. It’s a large price to pay considering the Cessna flight over the lines only lasts 30 minutes. This rather time consuming, line viewing haul is no longer necessary though.

I recently discovered – to my pleasure I should add – that it is now possible to see the Nazca Lines in one day from Lima. A flight in the morning takes you to Ica – where you board a Cessna and fly directly over to the Nazca Lines. The trip over the lines lasts a little longer owing to the distance, and after returning to Ica one can enjoy a little seafood lunch, lounge about comfortably at the swimming pools at Las Dunas hotel, and even try some famous Huacachina sand-boarding before returning to Lima on a late afternoon flight.

I did this trip recently and found it to be not only a great way to get to see the lines, but also found it to be rather relaxing. It’s a little fast paced, but you are given plenty of time to sit around and catch up on some reading. I’d recommend this trip to anyone pressed for time while traveling in Peru, as well as for those who like to get things done comfortably and quickly. On the other hand there is a lot to be said about Nazca and other sites in the area. The Hacienda Cantayo, located on the outskirts of town, is possibly one of the finest hotels in Peru and is definitely one of my personal favorites. Another reason to stay in Nazca is to see the rather eerie - although fascinating - ancient bone cemetery of Chauchilla on the outskirts of town. So there are things to see and do in the area if you want to take your time. It is however, nice to know that we now have the option of getting down to Nazca, seeing the lines, and getting back to Lima in a day.

I hope this helps anyone interested. Keep on traveling!


By the way, I noticed that you can now find the Nazca Lines on Google Earth if you look hard enough. For those of you interested, search the Nazca Plain that lies in the vicinity of 14°41'00" S and 75°07'00" W.


David, UK said...

Hi Bart
This sounds really good. I saw the lines in 2005 by the more traditional method of spending a night in the hotel directly opposite the airfield. I had a feeling I was going to read about you doing it in the earlier way you describe and I was preparing myself to write saying how distasteful I found it! However you have certainly found a way of cracking the problem for those with a time limit.

Maria Teresa said...

Hi Bart,

Really wonderful trip report! Especially useful tips for those who would like to see the Nazca Lines but don't have a lot of time.

Thanks for sharing!